There are a lot of things that are optional in
Yet, it’s possible to have a comfortable American-style life in
I didn’t realize to what extent I’m living the good life here until my recent trip across the country. I would love to see the reactions of some of my persnickety former colleagues if they saw the hotels I stayed in. The roads out of
Further in the North, I understood Steve’s point. Gaping holes covered the entire road, and were sometimes two feet deep. Worse than
Forsaking the good life:
And then there’s Steve. He’s Fonkoze’s Education Director I mentioned in my earlier posting about Cite Soleil. He knows
After about 6 hours and having crossed much of the country without a bathroom, I was so relieved when at dusk the guys in the truck spotted a shady banana field where they wanted to “take a break.” So I darted into the banana field, “took a break,” and came back feeling grateful! I mentioned to Steve I now understood why several other women at Fonkoze said they just don’t drink water when they are traveling outside PAP. He replied, “Yeah, my mom told me later that the first time she came to see me in
I don’t know if Steve gradually threw off the conventional trappings of an American life or if he dove in cold turkey. I also owe him my introduction to
Another note from Steve as we were almost home in PAP… by this time it was dark. “Do you go out often at night?” “Not so much.” “It’s a little scary when the headlights light up the air and you can see what you’ve been breathing all day.” It’s true that emissions controls are the least of
The cost of forsaking the good life?
If I ate deep fried dough everyday as opposed to vegetables, took my products daily to market on the Haitian roads, came home to no indoor plumbing, and shared a mattress with my four siblings, I understand why my lifespan would take a hit of 20 years. Steve noted that in the States, he had been a real health fanatic and a runner. Now, he surmises that other American colleagues here are decidedly healthier than he is.
The benefits of Steve’s Haitian lifestyle: He also shares a small room above the bakery in Cite Soleil. Rent is about $100 a year—occasional electricity (more when the gangs ruled the neighborhood, because the energy company was scared of them) no running water, bucket baths in the street. We dropped him off there yesterday when we got back to PAP. It was clear how much the neighborhood loves him, and the boys and men started swarming around and giving him hugs. He can identify with them better than anyone I’ve seen, because he is one of them. I went home and took a shower.
If I were to live here long term, would I protect myself from a Haitian reality and 49-year lifespan, under the umbrella of a good life that American money can buy? To be determined.