Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gonaives - Arriving in Haiti

It turns out there is food in Haiti, and I have yet to eat mud. It does turn out that the volunteers on site here have determined at least four classifications for mud, like the various words for "snow" an Eskimo might have. I arrived in Port-au-Prince yesterday and was met, as arranged by "a fat man named 'Big'" at the airport. I was escorted to another man who escorted me to a driver. I flashed a few of my minuscule French repertoire so that he knew everything better be on the up-and-up. Sure enough, he navigated me safely to where I was supposed to go. Driving is more like an X-game here, and I think they have taken the idea of carpooling to a new level in oddly-rigged vehicles that aggressively zip through crowded unkempt streets. Kind of makes those politicians sound a little silly about how our American roads are "falling apart." You want to see falling apart!?!? I'll show ya. We stopped briefly en route to my hotel, and two boys started tapping on my window, asking for some sort of donation. I just said, "No hablo ingles," and they just looked at me kind of funny. Finally, the one boy said, eerily, "I am sorry for you." All sorts of thoughts, mostly Ridley Scott Hollywood type thoughts, but we'll stay positive.
Today was not only a four-hour journey north to the dusty coastal town of Gonaives, but also my first day of work. My afternoon consisted of working with local Haitian teens to assembly line shovel and bucket out a three-room home from two feet of mud. Some of the standing water had little creatures living in it. Well, I'm tired and hot, so going to call it a night and think of something interesting to write for later.

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