Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Byenvini en Haiti

“Watch out, Haiti can get its claws into you. The thing is, you feel you have a disproportionate chance to make an impact here.” That’s what my new next door neighbor, a wisened American who’s lived in Haiti for 24 years, told me last night.

My first night in the country consisted of the neighbor, my current roommate, and me, discussing my roomate’s most recent venture into the field. Both of these women are about 60, single, obvious adventurers. An image of me at that age flashed through my head... wrinkled and alone in a sweaty country? (In comparison to the three newlywed couples that surrounded me on the flight to Miami, two of which were decidedly younger than me, girls sporting obscenely large rocks, all on their way to their honeymoons.) Last night the gals and I were sipping a concoction of Haitian rum, lime, and ice (a luxury!) while rain tapped the roof outside and a breeze blew through the apartment. These women are incredible, brimming with ideas and action, from renewable energy to building a new port in the South.

In my first 18 hours, 3 power outages in the apartment, one cold shower (don’t plan on hot water… good thing this is the tropics and not Barrow, AK) and one toilet that won’t flush. Welcome home J. I’m excited to be here, excited to learn the language, and get my hands on some of the financial reports, my main function here. You won’t here much from me in coming days—I’m off to the Island of Gonave, on the inside of the claw that is Haiti. Gonave (37 miles by 19 miles) has been described as a dustbowl, and receives the highest amount of remittances in the world. I’ll also be out in a few other small towns in coming days with the Education director.

I have to say, flying in, going through customs, the visa process, I was nervous as hell. Butterflies in my stomach. Scared of Haiti. Who do I trust? I think a bit of fear is healthy, and will keep me safe. Less than a day later, I feel I’m getting my bearings, but have a ton to learn, obviously. And I shouldn’t have worried about customs. When I opened my suitcase for inspection tampons just flew out everywhere. The dear gentleman didn’t ask to search my second bag. I think I’ve just discovered a winning strategy.

For now, I’m writing from the orange and purple painted walls of the inside of Fonkoze. (www.fonkoze.org) It feels like a Clemson bonanza, only in Creole, and with good Caribbean music playing in the background. More soon, and love to all—K.

PS—for the curious, here are quick facts, courtesy our noble government: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ha.html


Jennifer said...

Sounds like my Bunny! Soak it up and enjoy the adventure... as if I ever had a doubt you would. ;)


Julie said...

What?? You don't use the keeper?? :-)