Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ditchin' it.

Mini-adventures... in a ditch?!

Put it in the only-in-Haiti category.

I got into an argument last night with a guy (specifically, a construction foreman) about whether I was going to be allowed out of my house or not for the evening!! In recent days, a work crew has been tearing up the side of the road by my house. When I came home from work yesterday, the huge crane/tractor/digging machine was stopped near the entrance to my compound. Enough solid earth was left that I made sure the crane operator saw me, then proceeded to duck under the crane and cross the narrow bridge of street remaining to get to the entrance of the compound.

After getting home, I hastily got ready to go out. I had plans to see the movie "Ghosts of Cité Soleil." It was the first time the movie is publicly aired in Haiti, and it's a powerful documentary about gangs that controlled Cité Soleil during the end of Aristide's time in power. I was NOT going to miss this, and felt pretty lucky even to have an invitation to go!!

So only 45 minutes later when I walk out my front door, I discover... there is a MOAT (minus the water) around my residence!! The ditch diggers had continued happily along with their digging, and it was not clear how anyone was supposed to enter or exit the compound!

So I get into a bit of an exchange with the construction foreman.

Me: Eskize Monsye, fok mwen soti. Como m ka pase?
(polite tone) Scuse me sir, I need to get out. How can I get through?

Him: Uhhh li ap difisil.
Uhhh it’s going to be difficult.

Me: Ok, men eske li ka ap rete youn minit e m ka soti la?
OK, but can he (signal to crane operator) stop for a minute and I can get out through there?

Him: Gjaharku creole I don’t understand.

Meanwhile crane operator is happily digging away, all of TWO FEET from where I am standing, and I have to step back as the ground is coming out from under my feet!

Me: Monsye! Li ka rete youn minut? M ka pase la.
Can he stop for a minute? I can get through there.

Him: gksh kreyol dgkjh Ale sou lot pòt.
Garble garble Go through the other door.

Me: Nou pa GENYEN youn lot pòt!! Monsye, fok mwen soti ASWA.
(slightly less polite tone.) We don’t HAVE another door! Sir, I have to get out TONIGHT!

Meanwhile my fellow compound neighbors are gathered around, all a little big-eyed in disbelief. Finally, Foreman gets it, has the crane stop, and I kinda skip across on the last pieces of crumbling earth, sinking halfway down the ditch before mounting the other side. Gentleman that he is, he offers me his hand so I can hurdle what he must think is the impossible moat. pfff. I get on by without it, which incites his "O! Li pa vle ed mwen!" <> She doesn’t want my help!

Now how I am going to get back in later that night... remains to be seen! After the movie, I actually passed up an invitation to go out drinking cause I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to get in my front door! By then, 3 hours later, the moat had fully extended in front of the entrance to my compound. I smile at my favorite Foreman, roll up my pants, and hop on in. It’s about 8 feet deep, and 8 feet wide.

Saving the day on the other side of the moat is my skinny-ass Haitian neighbor Gustav, he literally pulls me up along the dirt out the moat! I just couldn't believe he was that strong and didn’t get tumped in with me!

And yes, the movie was worth it

By the way, the crane operator of Project Moat hit a powerline—I had a great view from the balcony of sparks everywhere and the neighbors screaming with glee! So I’ve haven't had electricity for several days and might be a bit out of touch. I’m hoping we get some sweet drainage system of this whole shebang though!!

And PPPPPPPPPPPS!! I’ve forgotten to mention it. I made my big stay-or-go decision! I’m going to Peace Corps :) I’ll be in Cameroon in June! That was a lot of stewing… condensed, but I’m happy to have made the decision and move forward full steam. There’s still plenty plenty to do and learn in Haiti, it will be a busy last two months! bisous à tous,
K :)

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