Let’s see………what happened after Isaac? Do I remember? Liz came to visit for a couple days! It was just like the old days with bananagrams and jokes that nobody but us understood. A lot of time to rest and watch movies. I was called up, without warning, to recite Psalm 23 in French in front of Valentin’s church. Nailed it. I hurt my neck. I tried, and failed, to mentally prepare myself for leaving my honey and coming home.
Monday I went with Wesley into Port-au-Prince. We planned to go see the national museum and his linguistics university. The tap-tap rides took about 2 hours, in traffic. When we got to the museum, we discovered it was more expensive than we had expected and twice as expensive for me because I am an étrangère. We tried to trick them into accepting my torn $20 bill, but it didn’t work, so we had to leave without seeing anything. I was bummed to say the least. But, we walked to the linguistics university so I could see where Wesley had taken classes, though it is dramatically different after the earthquake. It was extremely hot and I’m pretty sure we were both dehydrated when we returned. I was feeling dizzy and nauseated. Even though some of our plans didn’t work out, we enjoyed a day out together and I was happy with that.
Ok…I never run out of Andrea-gets sick or injured-stories:
That night, Monday night, I felt really weak. I went to sleep feeling nauseous. In the middle of the night, I woke up to go to the bathroom. I was feeling pretty terrible and, when I sat down, nearly passed out and the flashlight slipped through my fingers and clattered to the floor. It was pitch-black because there was no electricity so, when I panicked and tried to get out of my room to find help, I ran face first into the concrete wall. I staggered out with a bloody nose and an aching face, my body shaking and in a cold sweat. Fortunately, Valentin and Nadege were sleeping upstairs because it was too hot downstairs. They heard me when I hit the wall and fell to the floor, so they were on their way to see me. They cleaned me up and Wesley came and slept on the floor next to me. A couple hours later, I woke up vomiting, then got some on-and-off sleep. On Tuesday, my fever fluctuated between 99.5 and 102.5 F throughout the day. I watched Wall-E with Stellecy and Wesley brought me cold cloths. By 7pm my temperature was about 103 F and rising and, an hour later, when it reached 104 F, we decided I needed to go to the hospital. At the “hospital,” I sat in a wheelchair in a little room crammed with people. I could barely open my eyes because everything bounced and I barely felt them sick a needle into my hand. When I told Wesley I was thirsty, he asked the nurse if they had water and she told him he could go to the street and buy some. No water at a hospital?? Then, when the doc wanted to do a physical exam, he asked if we brought a sheet to put on the bed. Bring a sheet to a hospital?? I would never have thought that was necessary, so I laid on the bare plastic. They never even asked me what my name is. I got prescriptions that I wouldn’t have time to fill before I left early the next morning, and we went home to go to bed.
Wednesday morning, I got up at 5:45 to finish packing and leave for the airport at 6:30. I still had a 100 F fever and was physically feeling weak, but I had to make it home. The first two planes were delayed, I had to run around for my third one, then I had a 2.5 hour layover in Los Angeles…this is frustrating because it is so close to home. I made it homehome around midnight. I don’t know if there is anything I hate more than that long day of travel.
I’m back in San Diego. I think this time is harder than ever. I got to spend over two months with my favorite person and now I don’t know when we can see each other again. It’s hard, but we keep doing it.
I have never experienced a hurricane before. When I was here last year, we had a couple storms, but nothing like this. And I imagine hurricanes, like Katrina, are/were much worse. Here is my account of Hurricane Isaac in Haiti:
Things were pretty calm until late Friday night. That was when the winds picked up to a roar and the rain fell harder. I am the only person staying upstairs. I tried to be a big girl and remind myself it was just a storm, but I eventually succumbed to the child within. As I lay in bed watching the trees flop around like they were made of rubber and listen to rattling windows and doors, I was quite unsettled. It was when the locked door on the outside of my room flung open TWICE and rain blew in that I freaked out. I ended up on the couch downstairs for the night where I didn’t really sleep due to the intense roaring of Isaac.
When I went back upstairs Saturday morning, I could not open the door to my room because the wind had blown it shut so tight it was unmovable. The back door had again blown open and some of my things were wet. There are still leaves in the room that I haven’t swept out. There was a good amount of water in the main living area that had to be mopped up and mattresses on the floor that needed to dry out. I was sad because we missed the wedding of Nadege Duvil (if you remember her story from last year) that morning due to the storm. I still don’t know if it happened or not.
Saturday afternoon we went to take food and water to the tents in front of the school in Fonds-Parisiens and Vilaj Kanès. Driving up to the school was heartbreaking. The tents, and everything inside, were destroyed. The tarps were torn apart and all possessions lay wet in the mud. Everyone living there is in the school for the time being. Seeing my deaf/mute friend sitting on a bench with a kitten in front of her shredded tent tore me apart. I know that these are resilient people and they will gather up what they can to move forward but, after everything they have gone through, it just doesn’t seem fair.
We next slid through the muddy path in the truck all the way to Vilaj Kanès. The “houses” there seemed to have held up relatively well. But, for a community where most eat every two days, I can only imagine the complications this storm will bring.
Sunday was another food distribution, but I had to stay home due to a migraine. We’ve been trying to save inverter power because we don’t know when they will give town power again. That means my internet access will be more limited than usual for a while.
Today, there is some sun shining through even as the wind continues. We are at the tail end of it all and I am happy we are. I have 8 more days here in Haiti before I head back home and, soon after, back to school. I hope to get out and experience a few more things before I say goodbye once again.
So, it looks like I might not be able to get any pictures up for a while. It takes too much internet upload capacity from the daily allotted amount. Looks like my words alone will have to suffice for now.
Not much has happened since the last time I wrote. My leg (bone bruise) has turns new, weird colors every day and everyone and everything seems to bump into it or jump on it or whatever. I was sick for a few days with headaches and sore throats, but am all better now. It has been hot…as usual. And that’s about it.
Hurricane Isaac is over Haiti now, causing a lot of international panic. I see facebook statuses popping up about it all over the pages of previous Haiti visitors. Until now, there has been nothing more here than strong winds and a little drizzling. Hopefully things don’t worsen much more because, as everyone imagines, many houses and tents here don’t hold up well in hurricane weather.
If any more hurricane news arises, I will write.
Oh yes! And I have memorized Psaumes 23 in French in less than 12 hours! I figured if Stellecy could do it, I could do it.
And here is a poem (minus the awesome hand motions that go along) that Stellecy and I performed at last night’s devotion:
C’est bon pour la sante.
Ils me donnent ma belle coleur.
Et mes joues rogue.
Quand j’en mange, je suis grande et forte.
Comme c’est formidable!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted and, consequently, I have forgotten most of what has happened in the time that has past.
There have been many games of Monopoly Deal, many nail polish color changes to pass time, a slew of movies that I fall asleep during 10 minutes in, and lots of daytime naps.
A couple weeks ago we did have quite the adventure. Sarah, Kaye Lee, Erik, Wesley, Frantzdy, Eben, and I went to Petionville for a fun outing. We hit the coffee shop for some mochas and then traveled up the mountain to our favorite look-out point. Unfortunately, they are doing renovations so we were not allowed to enter to take pictures. Wesley wanted to show us Fort Jacques a little higher up, so we started on a journey that resulted in all of us lost and frustrated. In the end, it was awesome up there. It was 75 degrees, there was lots of forestation and the fort was really old and interesting. We enjoyed some delicious banan peze and piklis and headed back down the mountain. We had some car trouble on the way down that meant about a 4 hour delay waiting for mechanics, etc. We made it home and we all called the day a success.
Sarah, Kaye Lee, Erik, and I cooked dinner for everyone. We made baked ziti, garlic bread, and apple pie. Everything was delicious.
Wesley got his passport last Tuesday. It was another adventure. I was shocked to learn that Haiti has ONE immigration office in the country. That means that even if you live in the farthest corner of the country, you have to travel the 8+ hours to get there if you want a passport. Not only that, but it’s not a one day, put in an application and have it mailed to you, deal. Wesley went many times, waiting for hours outside in the sun…and all this was WITH a contact on the inside. Tuesday, I went with him to pick it up. We got there around 9am when it opened and waited about 4 hours. When he got in touch with his contact, the guy was eating breakfast. So, we investigated where the agents usually eat in the area and went on a mission. We tracked him down and pretended to just bump into him on our way to eat our own meal, being hungry and tired after waiting all that time. After a little more hassle and confusion, he had his passport and hand and the both of us were insanely happy. It had been a loooooong, frustrating process for us both. We rushed on motorcycle to the Dominican embassy to get his visa so he could go to the DR with all our staff the next morning. That was easy enough. The day was a lot of walking, a lot of waiting, and a lot of sun. But I didn’t even notice because I was so happy for the end result. Oh yeah, and a guy in a tap tap told me that I am the reason Haiti is poor. Hmmmmm….
The next morning we left for the Dominican Republic. The border is a pain every time, but we made it across with everyone and reached our final destination at the very south of the island. The group was more staff (Dominican and Haitian) than group members. It was interesting working on the DR side (Pedernales) of the border as well as the Haiti side (Anses-a-Pitres.) Of course, I felt more comfortable in Anses-a-Pitres because I communicate. The border there is pretty interesting because it’s not really a border at all—just a fence. We spent the 10 days doing construction, holding a couple medical clinics (my favorite part, of course,) playing with kids, and hanging out at the beach. I didn’t know it could get hotter than here, but I’m pretty sure it was about 50 degrees hotter and 95% more humid in the south. The mosquitoes there were ruthless, too. The air-conditioned rooms almost made up for it, though.
At the medical clinic in Anses-a-Pitres, I was able to stay with Dr. Ken Culver and observe the entire day; I also took blood pressures. We saw a lot of people with parasites and lots of skin conditions. One little girl came in that I don’t think any one of us will ever forget. Her name was Yolanda and she was 2 years old. She wore a beautiful white princess dress and was so tiny. She was emaciated, her face covered with blisters and sores, and she couldn’t even work up the energy to cry fully; it was more like a deep moan. The woman with her, whom we assumed to be the mother, was unable to answer most of the questions the doctor asked. All they knew was that she used to be a robust, healthy little girl and now she was skin and bones. They had been giving her ice and broth since she got sick. The doctor had the leave the room twice because it was so painful to see, and I had to leave the room and sob for a few minutes myself. When Ken and Valentin went back to see her a couple days later, they found out that the woman who was with her was her grandmother. The mother and the child lived in the mountains and, when the grandmother found her like that, she worried and brought her to the clinic. With medication and food given to them, they say the girl is much better and her welts and blisters are dried up. I was very happy to hear that. The look in that little girl’s eyes and her moaning cry are still with me.
At the medical clinic in Pedernales, Dominican Republic, I was on first aid duty. I enjoyed that. I cleaned up and dressed a couple cuts, a dog bite, a mild burn, and a very severe leg burn on a little girl. I translated for a couple Haitian families that came in and snuck in to observe doctors every once and a while. This little Haitian lady came in that had to be about 75 years old—barely any teeth, what appeared to be a homemade dress, and a huge smile. She said that she wasn’t feeling well, but—pumping her fists—she told us that she never stops, she never rests, she doesn’t know how to lie down. The best part was when she explained that she was so strong she could even shake “that guy,” and proceeded to reach out, grab Ken’s torso, and shake him. The look on his face was priceless and all he could say was that nothing like that has ever happened to him at a med clinic. Valentin and I just about peed our pants laughing.
We all know how injury-prone I am, right? So here it comes! On Tuesday, we were practicing for our soccer game in Haiti. I ran into Wesley with my shin and fell down. It hurt really badly, but I played for a little bit more. When I walked over for a break, I looked down and saw it had swelled a few inches. In the next few minutes I had a blue, grapefruit-size swelling near my ankle so severe that you could see the skin stretching. It freaked everyone out. Wesley started carrying me back to the hotel, then Ken decided I should get it checked out at the hospital. We went to the hospital there and the nurse kept saying it was broken. Ken didn’t think so and wanted an x-ray, making the nurse angry, but the x-ray technician was at home. They gave me a shot in my butt (a first) and we waited as somebody went in search of this guy. The nurse was super angry about having her authority questioned by outsiders. The x-ray was done and showed no broken bones YAY! I went back to the hotel, iced it, elevated it, and took advil. It took until today to look almost normal size. Blue is my favorite color, so I don’t mind having my leg like this. It should be all better soon.
We’re back in Haiti now, resting. I woke up with a migrane, but was nursed back to health with a cold press, darkness, prescription drugs, and highly caffeinated Haitian energy drinks. I’m down to a dull ache, so I should be able to do my laundry soon. I’ve come to love hand washing clothes so much that Wesley and I even made A&W Laundry Service while in the DR to wash other peoples’ clothes along with our own. Gratis.
I have lots of pictures to post, but I’ll have to wait for a better time when I won’t use up all the internet capacity to upload them.
Silence. Despite the dogs and the chickens and the mortar and pestle banging, after a group leaves it all seems like silence.
Monday we went to Kwa Kok to work on Valentin’s new church…more accurately, a temporary pavilion before the church will be built. I liked the beginning because there was work I could do without compromising my grandma back. We were moving rocks from one location to another…I just carried pebbles from one location to another. I wish I had a picture, because it probably looked kind of hilarious…the boys with there boulders and me with my pebbles. I don’t think I have ever heard my name more than the amount of times I heard it there in about ten minutes. ANDREA. ANDREA. ANDREA. Andrea doesn’t know how to sing. Andrea is dezod. Andrea, take off your glasses and blink again. I get picked on a lot because of my Creole. We showed the group around Kwa Kok and all enjoyed fresh coconuts. Yum. On our way home, we stopped by a metal artisan village that I was introduced to by Malia in December. It is really awesome. I purposefully didn’t bring money so I wouldn’t blow it all.
With a smaller group and much less stress, I really enjoyed the time with these 6 young men and women. We had some good laughs. I made them uncomfortable with the knowledge that when I pee in the bushes here I “drip dry.” I probably just made you guys all uncomfortable too. Mission accomplished. But, hey, carrying toilet paper into the bushes is a clear sign of a newb.
So, Seattle Pacific University left for home on Tuesday afternoon. We rested up on Tuesday after the group left and enjoyed smores before bed, using twigs and the flames from the gas stove. Wesley is now a fan of this crazy, American phenomenon. Yesterday was another day of rest, but we got a little stir-crazy after a few hours so we went on an adventure to a restaurant. Oh the joys of being white on the streets and tap-taps of Haiti. Put Wesley beside me and it becomes that much more interesting.
Today I will try to find something to keep me busy. Reading. Nails. Movie. Something.
Talk to you soon!
I wanted to share this quote I found on my friend Sarah Reeves’ blog. I think it is beautiful.
“For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.”
— Sam Levenson