Saturday, Dec. 1
Today was another great day. We started out in our normal routine, with eggs for breakfast again. Both groups headed out around 8 to finish the last 6 water filter installations. With only 3 installs per group, we knew the morning would go by fast. My group only ended up installing 2, because the 3rd house wasn’t complete, and they wanted to finish it before having the filter permanently installed.
Both homes we visited were fairly nice. The first appeared to be home to several teens and an older gentleman, who was listening to music on a battery-operated radio. One of the boys was actually playing on an old cell phone.
The second home had quite a few big rooms with a lot of furniture, but it was very dark and musky. The dining room where we installed the filter was almost pitch black, so they screwed in a light bulb … and there was light! It was one of the few homes with electricity, although they obviously used it sparingly. The mother, father, and four adorable children watched us while we installed the filters. Like almost everyone else, they seemed very appreciative. We were done installing filters by 10:30, even with the traffic jams going through the market.
Back at the church, we played with the kids for a while, and the same girl painted over my pink and blue fingernails. We had spam, pb&j, and Pringles again for lunch, then we ventured out for an afternoon of relaxation at the beach. The views along the road outside Arcahaie were gorgeous, with the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. The beach cost $2/person, and as we headed toward the water, groups of Haitians immediately tried selling us bracelets, artwork, conch shells, etc. Most of it looked like cheap, bulk souvenirs rather than handmade crafts. A couple guys even tried selling us live crabs and lobster for $15, which they offered to cook for us! I was actually glad I didn’t have any money with me. The beach was rocky rather than sandy, so you couldn’t really lie out, but it was nice not having to deal with messy sand.
Ryan, Jacob, Matt, Hank, Robenson, and I went out on a small wooden rowboat with a local to go snorkeling. It was $5/person, but only $2.50 for Hank and me since I had my own snorkel & mask, and Hank just went for the ride. We immediately started seeing jellyfish in the water – some probably 10-12 inches in diameter. Pretty soon we started seeing lots of garbage, too. The local man kept telling us there were no jellyfish, yet we kept seeing tons of them float by. It took about 15 minutes to get to a small reef area, where we reluctantly jumped in for a few minutes but had to constantly doge jellyfish. As I was heading back to the boat, I felt a sharp sting on my upper thigh. I’d been stung by tiny jellyfish in the past, so I immediately knew what happened. I’m not sure the others believed me (maybe because of my high pain tolerance, ha!) until it started to swell up. Matt got stung on his shoulder, too. Needless to say, we didn’t stay in that spot very long. The local continued on to a better spot, where I only saw one jellyfish. Besides the occasional garbage, the water was crystal clear, and we saw was some nice coral and small creatures swimming about. I was able to dive down 5-10 feet for a few seconds at a time to get a closer look at the small fish and anemone. I’m guessing the area had been over fished though, because everywhere else I’ve snorkeled or dove has had a lot more marine life.
After we got back to the shore, Whitney (our nurse) put hydrocortisone on my sting, which helped with the pain and swelling immediately. Cold Prestige beers were waiting for us, so I enjoyed one with the group. The others had already had a couple of beers and even some Haitian rum and son-son (whatever that is), which was part of a long-running joke with Hank throughout the week. We took some group photos together and just had a great time hanging out, laughing, and telling stories.
Unfortunately we had to leave the beach around 4, but we stopped at a preschool to drop off some donations. The school was a simple concrete building with about 4 classrooms, an outdoor hallway, tiny chairs, a chalkboard, and a few old toys. We learned that this particular school cost $125/student/year, and about 36 kids attended. The attendance had dropped from about 50 students due to cost.
Next we returned to the church to see the kids anxiously waiting for us. They were always so excited to see us, with big shouts and waves and huge smiles on their faces. For dinner we filled up on fish with Congo beans, onions, and rice; fried plantain; coleslaw; and mango. We continued to hang out with the kids until dark. Our water supply had a leak in it, so we ran out after only a couple people had showered. Patrick went out and brought back a few buckets full of water so we could take bucket showers. This trip, and especially tonight, really made me realize how little water you actually need for daily tasks. I’ve heard than an average American uses 300 gallons of water a day, but I think we could probably use about a hundredth of that. Since I’ve been home I’ve vowed to take shorter showers, spend less time with the water running while doing dishes and prepping food, and just appreciating the clean water that I’m blessed with every day. We had another great devotional before heading to bed at our usual time.