The Real First Day

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Our first full day was Easter Sunday. The night was awful. There was a wedding at the church that went on until 2 in the morning. The singing was beautiful, but I needed sleep. Afterward, people remained in the streets and made noise all night long, accompanied by all the dogs in Cazale barking. But, we still managed to get up early, put on our Easter best and go for a walk around the village. Along this walk people kept yelling blanc to us (it means white) or they just stared at us.

Once the bell rang for church we went back. The church is rather large, but it was crammed full. There was fans along the ceiling, but with the amount of people in there, they did nothing. All of the Mass was done in Haitian Creole so we just sat their and smiled and went with it.

After Mass, we made our way down the huge steps of the church. My legs were barely long enough. We then began to walk to our translators mother’s house. Along the way we passed so many different kinds of houses. Some were small, probably consisting of 1 room, then there were huge houses, colorfully painted and protected by walls with either barb wire or glass shards on top and a gate. There was some little stands to buy things, a coffin maker, a blind man with a rope tied around his waist with his wife holding the other end…..at least 10 feet in front of him. Some people asked for money, the kids came running to us yelling blanc, all while baking in the 90+ degree heat.

We enjoyed lunch under a mango tree. The food was absolutely amazing. Some of the kids climbed the coconut trees and prepared them for us to drink. All seemed fine.

Then, there was a lot of people and music coming from the street. Our translator and his friends looked slightly concerned, making me nervous. It ended up being a voodoo parade. Soon after the people arrived a coffin was driven by on a motorcycle, then our translator went down and paid them not to harm us. This made me trust them even less.

After we were safe we descended down the little hill we were on to the crowd. While half of my group had wandered over to the center of the crowd, a little girl behind the rest of us cut her foot so we stopped. As I turned around to step onto the road to get our professor, 2 men almost ran into me. They weren’t just 2 men, they were carrying a human that had been sacrificed for the voodoo holiday. The person was covered by a white sheet that was stained with blood. I had a lot of emotions at that moment and all were telling me I needed to go home. As I turned around for support, the 2 behind me were wide eyed and mouth opened.

I made it to our professor who went back and bandaged up the little girl. The ceremony was pretty, full of music and dancing, but it was short lived as they carried on down the road.

After this we made our way back to the church. Along the way we stopped at the memorial for when the tonton macoutes had come to the village. It was also the anniversary for this. Our translator told us about the event given his father was placed in one of their jails and his mother had to flee with her children.

We spent the rest of our day on the roof talking and preparing for our first day at the clinic.

 

The First Few Days

Basically,  nothing exciting is going on in my life for the next week, so I am going to be telling the story of my week in Haiti. I wish I had a blog then because it was an intense week. Anyways, here are my Haiti  Chronicles.

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With just about every trip I go on, things start off a bit rough. The day we were supposed to leave was just that, rough. This was my first trip without any family or close friends. I was going to a developing nation at 21 with 9 people that I had either met in my global health class or through other classes prior. To be honest I cried all morning. On top of that, we were having a storm that was freezing rain and snow. We ended up leaving later than we planned because of this. The first stop of our adventure was to our professor’s brothers house in Connecticut. We broke up in groups of 3-4 and drove down. The driver for the car I was in went about 80 the whole way. I wouldn’t say she is a bad driver, but she could be better. That combined with the ice made for a sketchy drive, but we made it to Connecticut in record time.
That afternoon we finished packing up the last of our supplies. Each of us had 2 check on bags for our stuff we were bringing to leave, like school supplies, medical equipment, toys, etc. Then we all had 2 carry-ons for our clothes and personal things. This became a problem the next morning we had to pile into a van with all of this stuff. We didn’t fit, we all had things in our lap and our professor’s husband had to drive to JFK with the rest of the bags that we couldn’t fit. Before this, our alarm clock didn’t go off so we were all running late too. Once at JFK, things got better for the time being. Of course I set off the body scanner, I always do. I had leggings and a t-shirt on so what set it off, no one knows. Our flight was nice. There wasn’t too much turbulence, but as someone who is scared of heights, it was a little anxiety provoking.
Now this is where the fun began. Seeing the mountains in the distance was breathtaking. We also went from having about 10 minutes to land to being on the ground and having to brace ourselves because it was a very fast transition. It also took a very long to get off the plane and it was so hot and humid, I thought my skin was just going to melt off. Then immigration had only 1 person working with all the planes arriving at the same time. This took at least an hour to get through. Once through, on the way to baggage claims someone was getting arrested in one of the shops, then the guys helping us at baggage claim got into a fight over who should help us. Then, to avoid anyone from going through our bags, our professor paid for us to be able to leave the airport quicker.
Once you leave the airport doors we were bombarded with a sea of people who wanted to “help” us. Everyone was yelling and there was barely any room to walk. We had a translator and his friends waiting for us, but it was almost impossible to find them. Men kept grabbing my bags and just wouldn’t leave me alone. After what seemed like forever, we all found our way to the vehicles we were going to be taking to Cazale. All our bags were piled into the back of 2 trucks and the translator and his friends sat on them as we went to the village to prevent anyone from stealing them. It was about an hour drive. One bridge had been recently destroyed due to an accident so we had to go on a new bridge that was quickly made to replace the other. Also, there are essentially no rules when driving, so it is wild.
On the way, we drove past little trailers that were police stations, the ocean that was so blue, the mountains that seemed to go on forever, and some houses, one of which had a small child outside crying at the gates, begging for his mother to let him in. Most of the kids were half naked, walking along the street that was littered with trash.
Once in Cazale we unloaded all our bags and began to settle in at our home for the week. We were staying in a church in the village. A once empty room was soon cluttered with our sleeping mats and bags. After we had a traditional Haitian meal, I highly recommend goat. We worked on saying some of the more popular phrases in Haitian Creole while sitting at a table in a small hallway.
After, we retreated to the roof. Here we watched as a mountain went up in flames. It was almost growing season, so the farmers were preparing their fields. There was also a strong scent of sage burning in the air and the sound of all the animals in the village. But it was oddly peaceful.

Motion In The Ocean

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Yesterday I set sail in Boothbay Harbor for a whale watch. Prior to hitting the rough seas, I, along with the people I was with enjoyed lobster rolls while sitting on a deck overlooking the harbor and of course had to go to Wicked Whoopies. It doesn’t matter where you go, you have to get the best food in that area.

Now, I hadn’t been on a whale watch since 1st grade. While my memories from the experience are a little blurry, I strongly remember how bad the boat rocked and I naturally was convinced we were going to capsize. Obviously that didn’t happen. It was a bit rough out there, but it was a beautiful day to be on the water. We only saw 6 whales and some harbor seals.

What really bothered me about the whole thing is hearing about how some whales are so rare to see now because they are endangered. It is not just them though, a lot of sea creatures are suffer from climate change, like the lobsters. So far this year, the ocean waters here are colder than average, therefore the majority of sea creatures are not being seen where they should be at this time. We all need to start loving are planet and everything on it, if not, nothing will be left.

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Take Me Back

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These hot, humid days make me wish I was back in Haiti. It may be a crazy place and was one of the toughest weeks of my life, but I loved it. It is such a beautiful place and the opportunity to go came at the right time in my life.

It was nice not having the internet, all the Fresh fruit for breakfast, sitting on the roof watching the sun set, playing games with kids at the clinic I volunteered at. I probably could have done without the voodoo ceremony, but it was also interesting to see.

Basically , if I’m going to be sweating to death, I’d rather be in Haiti doing it than here.

Job Search

At this point it appears Maryland is where I am most likely to get a job. I don’t exactly have fond memories of Maryland, but beggars can’t be choosers.  Last time I was there was for my class trip. I ended up getting a really bad sunburn, by really bad I mean my forehead swelled to the point it looked like I have been hit by a baseball. I also ended up getting sick which later became pneumonia. But, I am willing to give it another chance if that means I can have a job I like.