Kris jokes about this all the time, how being on this bonding trip is like the movie “Groundhog’s Day”. Every day is pretty much the same thing with a different twist. Every morning we wake up at 7:30am, shower, head down to the hotel dining room at about 8:20 for continental breakfast of fresh local fruits (watermelon, papaya and mango), mini haitian sweet rolls, coffee, and a glass of water (and an anti-malarial). About 4 minutes after we sit down with our food, Tuchi comes to ask us if we would like eggs this morning. Yes, since we’ve been here for 12 days, we know the main hotel staff by name, and converse with them every day LOL its like a movie where the old people “live” at the hotel, and they come down every day and the hotel staff greets them and laughs at all their funny eccentricisms. (I don’t think that’s a real word, but I’m going to fight myself and leave it. Congratulations Urban Dictionary, a new word for you) Only things we are missing are a smoking jacket and a mini pomeranian with a diamond studded leash and collar. Anyway, when Tuchi comes to ask about eggs, now all we have to do is say “yes please, thank you!” and he brings back a plate of plain scrambled for me, and an omelette with ham, cheese and veggies for Kris. After breakfasting, we head back up the two flights of stairs down the hallway to the last room, and get our last minute bag packed for the day, leave a tip for housekeeping and pack up our waters. Then we FaceTime our kids at 9:00am sharp (7am their time as they get ready for school) talk for about 10 minutes then say goodbyes and get ready to head down to the waiting car. We leave at 9:30 sharp and most days stop by the Stop n’ Go to grab an extra case of water, treats for the day and food and gatorades for our driver/translator – they like Orange gatorade and a chicken pate – but they would never ask for it! We just offer it every day – and they can’t refuse! 🙂
After about a 30 min drive we arrive at the orphanage, play all morning/afternoon until 3:10pm and then say goodbyes and leave to head back to the hotel. Once back in the hotel room we kick off our tennis shoes, grab our sandals and detox for about 5 minutes then head down to the outdoor patio for dinner where we greet the dinner staff by name as well. They now bring me the breadbasket every night without asking. I’m telling you – these little dinner rolls they have here are insanely good hot with butter. They are the size of a baby’s fist (I’m not really sure why that analogy just popped out – but that’s the best I’ve got for ya) so you can eat lots of them and not feel too bad…haha! Anyway, after dinner we head back up to the hotel room where our REAL battle begins. That is the moment, about 5:30/6pm, every night when we battle …
Netflix works sometimes, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu conveniently don’t service me outside of the United States (creepy. how do they know where I am?), and I’ve already filled you in on the local TV situation. When we get signal enough to access something on netflix, we cannot push pause or stop or back or fast forward or rewind or it completely crashes and won’t reload. LOL We’ve learned our lessons the hard way. The silliest, most difficult part of this trip (embarrassingly so) is that we are “stuck” at the hotel after we get dropped off, mostly because it isn’t super safe for us to be wandering around Port-au-Prince. LOL so we stay at the hotel, and there isn’t much to do here besides fight the wifi and swim (which we have yet to do, because we’re too darn tired to really do much) and workout in the exercise room – which I took one look at and thought – why in the world would you purposefully sweat more than you are already doing just by being ALIVE here?
So – long description of Groundhogs day, but around here – we are living it! I will be glad to have some variety when we get home! 🙂
This morning though, we did have a change of pace and drove out to Delmas, another sub-community of PAP, to visit the Apparent Project. What an amazing difference 10 minutes driving makes – even 3 minutes down the road from where we are near the airport – its like a different world! Most of the streets are paved, it is much cleaner, there are hills and actual businesses and cleaner storefronts. The biggest difference we noticed were the houses. Where we are, in and near Croix-des-bouquet, the “houses” are most of the time cinderblock walls I’d guess about 7 feet tall, most of them with shanks of rebar sticking out the tops, like they were just thinking they would add on more blocks when they had the time. There aren’t “doors” on the homes, its just an empty doorway, black inside, no lights – maybe a window cutout in one wall. Many times there is corrugated metal for a roof if they are lucky, or boards or plastic, honestly I’m not sure what else they use. If a homeowner is smart here, they build an 8′ + tall wall around the house, and at the top of the wall, they cement in shards of broken bottles, broken dishes, glass, etc. sticking out of the cinderblocks. If there is not any broken glass there are rolls of barbed wire. It is the only way to stop someone from climbing over your wall and “breaking into” your house (with no door or windows…) Most homes have a HUGE solid metal rolling gate as an entry point. They roll it open and closed as needed, and if you go to visit, you bang on the gate until someone comes to open it.
A little known fact about me, I’m obsessed with really cool pictures of doors and gates, so Haiti is a constant source of awe and wonder and I get SUPER frusrtated that I can’t just hop out and take great pictures of some incredible doors and gates and rusty metal walls and roofs. One of these days I’m just going to decide its worth it and go for a walk! LOL (not really, I promised Kris I wouldn’t) Anyway, there are guys who make these metal gates on the sides of the road and sell them, but the process is really labor intensive and we see them every day working on these gates. I’ll try to find a photo of them in the making, but I may only have a fully complete one to look at. People paint their metal gates lots of different colors, or just leave them original metal. Each one paints their “house number” (I think?) on the gate so everyone knows who they are/where they are – I’m only assuming it is their address, however I don’t think they have mail service here (although I could be mistaken) so not sure how useful an address would be…I guess just for telling someone where to visit you.
The difference…house below is in Delmas
Most people hang out outside their homes, either sitting outside, or standing lounging along the walls, many cook outside, or bring their businesses outside to sell. Today when we drove through Delmas, it really did look like Chuck’s produce and “World’s biggest garage sale” had a love child. There are people selling things EVERYWHERE. There are PEOPLE everywhere. There are honking cars and motorcycles and tap-taps everywhere. There are no such things as crosswalks or traffic lights! we actually saw our first traffic light of this trip in Delmas today – and it wasn’t working. It was the busiest intersection i’d ever seen and it took us about 10 minutes to cross. Just a mangled mass of cars all trying to go where they wanted to. I asked the translator if that traffic light ever worked…he said “what light?” LOL when he finally realized what I was talking about he said, “Oh, no that is never on.” hahaha he’s lived in that part of town for 15 years and hasn’t seen it work yet. 🙂
Anyway, back to Apparent Project! Such an incredible ministry! The Apparent Project was started by a lady several years ago who came to adopt a child here but when she got here, realized that so many parents were giving up their children simply because they couldn’t afford to keep them. She decided to do something about that and began the Apparent Project, which now, years later, employs over 300 haitian locals who work there to create artisan pieces such as jewelry, bags, screen printed pieces, pottery, metal work, etc. and then the on-site shop sells them in the boutique and also ships them out wholesale to other retailers all over!
I took just a couple pictures – but they even have on-site free childcare for their employees so that they can just earn a paycheck and not have to pay for childcare as well! The products are amazing, and the process is incredible! We got the full tour and got to see them working creating all the glass beads, paper beads (made from cereal boxes and magazines) and even making their own clay for the pottery pieces. They sift the dirt, mix the water, pack it into squares and actually dry it on the roof before they use it! It was a fantastic experience.
Below, after the clay is made and prepped, a team shapes it into beads and lays it on these trays to dry in the sun for approx 4 hours.
The metal art is created by local artisans and sold in the boutique, online, and at retailers all over the states!
Freshly made clay mugs drying in the sun
This woman is making clay plates on the pottery wheel.
When we left AP, we had to drive in terrible traffic to get back to the creche, so we ended up not getting there until about 1:10pm. As soon as we got out of the car, the kids came running around the corner, W leading the pack, and jumped right up into daddy’s arms with a huge smile. I asked him if he was excited to see mommy and daddy, and he said “YES!” (in English). We got a little bit of quiet time up on the balcony with just a couple of the older boys for company, eating snacks, listening to music, playing an entertaining round of dominoes! When we decided to go downstairs and play, W told Daddy he wanted to go to the car, (again, in English) and Kris asked him what he wanted to get from the car, and W leaned right up in his face really close and whispered super loud, “COOKIES!” hahaha – the past few days we’ve brought little sandwich cookies for him to share with everyone – it is one of his favorite things, to get to be the one to pass out cookies to all of his friends!
After cookies, he asked if we could sit in the car for a little bit. So we sat, and made a video for Braeden, Logan and Abby (very cute), and then read a book in English called “Bear Wants More” (some of my favorite kids’ books, I have several! I mean, my kids have several… – okay I’ll admit it, I’m a kids’ book hoarder. I absolutely love picture books, especially if the illustrations are fun and creative!) The book is about Bear and his woodland creature friends: Mouse, Hare, Badger, Raven, Wren…etc. In this book, no matter what Bear eats, he’s still hungry and wants more. We got to the page where Bear and his friends went fishing, and ate and ate and ate, but he still wanted more, and W’s face lit up and he said “Oh!” and reached into the bag in his lap – fishy crackers – and pulled out a fish and swam it over through the air over the Bear and gave Bear a bite, then over to mouse, and Hare until they had all eaten! Then I turned the page and he said “Oh No!” and flipped the page back – we had forgotten to feed a fishy cracker to badger! LOL what a cutie!
It felt like a short time with him today, but tomorrow is Saturday – no school…so we have a long day coming up. Two days left until goodbyes…