Wednesday, Nov. 28
Our first night in Arcahaie I didn’t sleep that well – even with earplugs I woke up a lot from loud cars, roosters, dogs, and goats. I was wide-awake at 4 since we went to bed so early. I showered once it got light out (there’s no light bulb in the bathroom), then we had pancakes for breakfast around 7. We loaded the van with supplies for 10 filters, and Group 1 (Whitney, Curtis, Matt, Hank, and me) headed out around 8. We got into a couple of crazy traffic jams because a bridge was washed out from Hurricane Sandy, so we had to detour through the bustling marketplace.
I’d never seen anything like it – there were rows of tap-taps (taxi trucks) 3-deep, several blocks long, just stopped. Our guides got out and talked to several people for quite a while, a bunch of the vehicles backed up or squeezed through tiny spaces, and voila – we made it through and the traffic jam cleared up! On our way back we sat for a long time, then finally backed out and took a different route. James could squeeze our van through anything, and back up as well as he could go forward. After dropping off our filters, we returned around 10:30 and loaded up the next group’s supplies. They dropped off their filters and installed 6 of them that were farther out of the way, so they didn’t return until almost 3. When my group first returned there weren’t any kids around, so we had a bit of downtime. Once the kids starting arriving, we had a great time coloring, looking at the English-Creole wordbook, and playing with stickers. I had about 4 packages of stickers that lasted maybe 15 minutes – the kids started out just taking 1 sticker, but then they’d take an entire sheet and disappear with them.
Group 2 finally got back and we had tuna sandwiches, Pringles, cookies, and hand-squeezed passion fruit juice for lunch. We always felt horrible eating in front of the kids since we were told not to share, but sometimes we couldn’t eat in the church for various reasons. During lunch the kids were nearby goofing around, and one knocked over my drink. They all looked up at me with wide eyes like they were waiting for me to yell at them, which of course I didn’t. Their reaction broke my heart. After lunch we all went for a long walk to downtown Arcahaie.
The main road was very busy, so we had to stay over and watch out for vehicles. Downtown had a park with a statue and a stage they use for Flag Day. Near downtown was another marketplace. There were lots of people selling food and used items, such as shoes and books. It was very crowded and pretty run down, and we got lots of stares. No one tried to get us to buy stuff or bargain with us – probably because they weren’t used to tourists. When we said bonsoir, most everyone would respond with a smile and a greeting. Along the ocean we saw boats bringing in coal from a nearby island. One of the dogs from the church went on the entire walk with us, always staying by our side. There are tons of stray dogs in Haiti – most of them aren’t treated well, and they have to find scraps of food amongst garbage to survive. And besides their color, they all look identical.
Dinner was ready around 5:15, shortly after we returned from the walk. We had a feast tonight – fried plantain, coleslaw, fries, pasta salad, lasagna, fried chicken & pork. It was Jacob’s 18th birthday, so we even had a cake they’d picked up from a gas station. It was a bit different from American cake (more dense), but delicious. I got so sweaty today that I decided to shower in the evening, in the dark bathroom with a flashlight. We played some rummy and I was obviously tired, because I started giggling to the point of tears over something dumb. We had a nice evening devotional and went to bed by 9. I was happy to have my Nook so I could stay up and read in the dark for a while.