une longue histoire

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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.

-Andrea

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