Where to start. Ok, one of the girls here made an announcement on Saturday night that she was going to go to a Haitian church service and anyone was welcome to go. Soon after this, another announcement was made telling us about the danger of heading to the beach during their holiday. There’s a beach that supposed to be the best beach around here, about a two hour drive through some pretty crazy mountain terrain. But this weekend happened to be Labor day weekend, and there was supposed to be massive amounts of people at that beach. They pretty much strongly suggested we not go unless we absolutely really wanted to. Abby and I crossed our names off the sign up sheet as soon as the meeting was over (Paul and Jeff, you should be proud!). So this left our morning free for church!
Church starts around 7:00, and we were forewarned that it lasted quite a while. So while we made sure everyone was ready to go, we ended up getting to the church around 7:30am. Which I guess was fine, because the church was only half full, and by the time we left the church, it was full and there were people standing in the back. There have been jokes that Haitians go by “Haitian Time,” aka, they’re always late. Anyhow, church was quite the experience. Everyone stared, of course, since there were about 8 white people who couldn’t understand of word of Creole that were sitting in their aisles. Abby and I got off to a wrong start by sitting on the wrong side of the church. I guess the men sit on one side, and the women on the other. We were promptly escorted to the women’s side of the church. There was about an hour of worship music, followed by an hour-long sermon that was being translated to us, and then another 40 minutes or so of worship music. The pastor was super nice, speaking in English to us and thanking us for the work that we’re doing in Leogane. He seemed very appreciative, and people were coming up to us after church to shake our hands. It was pretty awesome :)
But little did I know that my Sunday was about to get a heck of a lot more interesting.
We left church and headed back to our bunks. It was so hot that we were sweating while we just laid in bed. Abby and I got a bit adventurous and tried the famous Haitian egg sandwich. Yes Jeff, we bought it off the street. And it was delicious. And I haven’t gotten sick yet (and it’s already Tuesday!). It’s basically bread, a little butter spread over it, scrambled eggs, ketchup, some green leafy stuff, optional hot sauce, aaaaaaaaaand I can’t remember if there was anything else.
So there we were, laying in our bunks, not sure what to do with ourselves for the rest of the day (Sunday is free time all day). One of our bunk neighbors, Ruben, suggested we head to the beach, which sounded fantastic since it got us our of our bunks. Ruben was nice enough to wait for us to get ready, so his friends left without us, and we headed out on our own. Thank goodness one of the local Haitians, Pierre, was right outside our door as we were heading out, and he volunteered himself as our guide for the day. I honestly don’t know where we would have ended up without him. He told us how to flag down a motorcycle that acts as a taxi around here. Abby and Ruben went on one, and Pierre and I in another. So this is something most Haitians probably don’t see on a regular basis: white girl in the middle of two Haitian men on a tiny motorcycle. Ha!
Anyhow, we made it to the beach (which has cement stairs into the water), and we were able to get a table, but not before we realized that I didn’t have my wallet and we were broke. We couldn’t buy a beer–or anything else for that matter-since we had to save whatever money Abby had to get back home. So instead we just sat and looked at everyone, and then Ruben, Pierre and I decided to get in the water and play some frisbee with the locals. It was all fun and games with the little kids, but once the 14-year old boy started grabbing my leg, I was outta there and back to the table with Abby :)
And THEN comes the most interesting part. We saw two other white guys who happen to work for a major construction company doing work over here, and so we struck up a conversation and they pulled up some chairs. Their friend Brian joined us a little later, and lo-and-behold, he works for the United Nations! As those of you who know me can guess, I started asking him a ton of questions about his job, what he does, and basically any advice I could get. I even put my law school networking skills to good use and got his contact information.
Brian was cool enough to offer us a ride back into town, so we got to spend our money on a round of beer, and Brian even went to far to offer to make us dinner at the UN Headquarters…if we were interested, that is. HELL YEAH. I still don’t think that night was true. We got to see the UN HQ set up, eat in their kitchen, drank some red wine, ate some amazing food, and got to meet more really cool people. One guy I met is from Argentina, and another one was actually from Guatemala. I had such a great time talking with all of these guys, in the middle of a rain storm, in Haiti, at the UN headquarters. Yeah, that happened. To me. And yes, I took pictures of my badge and in front of the UN sign!
Anyhow, they brought us home, and I got to experience my first “rooftop club” experience. I was able to be one of the cool kids that stays up past curfew, sneaking up to the roof and just talking (in whisper voices, of course), and admiring the sky and the cool breeze. Awesomeness at it’s best.
Nothing else really happened on Sunday….except an earthquake in the middle of the night! I honestly didn’t feel it, and only woke up because everyone was walking to the middle of the courtyard. The only casualties were those caused by people freaking out, running out of their bunks, and falling onto other people. They’re obviously not from California. Abby didn’t even make it out of her bunk!
A little sidenote: Jeff should be proud of the amount of sunblock I’m wearing. I’ve been here for 6 days and I have gotten some color, but not burned. Go me! I also can’t believe my stay here is so short. This is exactly what I want to be doing, and aside from missing friends, family and my husband terribly, I honestly think I could stay here way longer if all other responsibilities weren’t waiting for me.
But alas, I am here, and taking in every single moment.