Saturday, December 21, 2013

Life is different here

In many ways Haiti is just like Canada. In many ways, it is different.

Here’s a few examples of the differences:

Housing... My mom’s house is not a typical Haitian house, it’s nicer, although far far from Cdn standards. An average poor Haitian house is 4 walls, one room, a thatch or metal roof. Middle class may have a dirt courtyard and more than one room house. Rich Haitians have more substantial fancy homes with inlaid tile and frou frou things.

Spiders are MUCH bigger. Tarantulas are common. Those are killed as soon as my mom has a photo, she knows how much my Aunt Sandra ‘adores’ them.

Cold water is never cold. Cold water is water straight out of the buckets on the roof, that have been in the heat all day. Cold is more like lukewarm/cool.

We shower here, thankfully. The shower is a concrete structure with a pipe where the water comes out, too many minerals for a shower head. Sure gets the job done and with the heat you rarely want to use the warm water, you’re thankful for a cool shower. For those following my Facebook renovation thread… how much do I wish my shower in my new home had been built this way?? Built to last!

shower spout

Shower

Lightbulbs are strange here. It makes having fancy light fixtures irrelevant, I guess the rich Haitians must bring in light fixtures and bulbs from the states. The longer the bulb the more wattage, some have 8” bulbs!

Light bulbs - This is low wattage!

Window glass doesn’t happen here, at least not panes like we’re used to. There are glass slats you could close if it’s windy or during rainy season and mom has screens. Other Haitians would have concrete blocks window blocks to allow in light

You don’t put lights over your dinner table or desk or bed. Any guesses how come? Even with window screens small no-see-em types get through the screens and REALLY like the light. Sometimes they’re here by the hundreds, like tonight. After they buzz around the light a bit they die and fall down. You don’t want that in your food, on your bed etc. Just walking under a light tonight I had 2 land in my Baileys. I don’t share well!

Paper under light to show carnage

Electricity... so at home, we pay a bill and electricity flows into our home. In Haiti EDH is the gov’t electricity and it’s rare that you actually get any. The rest of the time HATS operates by generator. When the generator is on the well pump runs and fills the big water tanks on the roof, the laundry is done and the inverter batteries charge. Then the generator goes off and we run on battery for a bit. Typically the generator runs for a few hours each morning and afternoon. If the generator runs too long the roof tanks overflow and of course too much gas is consumed. If they run on battery too long they’re drained and we have no lights. It’s a delicate balance.

Kids here are thankful! We’re doing up 150 presents for the kids that show up at church tomorrow. Most of them are a pen, pencil, notebook, ball, small toy or stuffy, bracelet, some stickers & a soap or shampoo or toothbrush. The older kids got a calculator, ruler. Each child will also get a pop, bag of cheezies and a candy bag. They will be thrilled. It’s likely the only gifts they’ll get.

Ready to make gift bags

In Canada the bank throws out the money that’s been beat to a snot. Here it’s handed back to you when you get money from the bank. I did the payroll today and both of these bills came right out of a bank roll. Others were worse. Some had 1/3 of the bill missing and some were so grungy they grossed me out to even touch them. I washed my hands A LOT!

Banks issue trashed money

The food is simple and divine. I could eat Haitian food forever. Mom has an amazing woman, Germaine, who helps out with TiLuc and cooks for groups etc. Even Jared, my non-eater, has stated that we should have Rice and Beans every day at home. Picklies, Sauce Poi, Fried Chicken (no breading and soooo good), Plantain, Eggplant Gratinee, Militon Gratinee. Fresh coconut, fresh squeezed juice. Amazing ti banane (mini bananas).

People carry on their heads. It’s SO much better for the posture than hunched over carrying bags or having a backpack pulling on your shoulders and neck!

best way to carry!

People sit in the bed of the trucks. As many as you can fit. We fit 26 in mom’s truck two years ago. Every errand my mom goes on the kids beg to go to so they can sit in the back of the truck.

Going on errands

Mom has Germaine. OMG, so jealous. I got up at 10am today (I’m writing this Friday, the day after the mountain trek). At 10am I could barely sit up. My lower back was screaming, although in a good ‘wow, you balanced on a ‘machin’ for 5 hrs on a horrendous mountain road and I’m here reminding you’ kind of way. So as long as I don’t move, I feel ok. MY back was my only owie upon awakening, inflamed upper back and ‘we’re core muscles you should use more’ lower back. It’s now 10pm. WAY past bedtime in Haiti. And I’d go to bed, although that involves going upstairs. In the past few hours my thighs have announced they were on the trek too. I can barely get myself to the bathroom, how will I get up the stairs? Anyway, I digress. Germaine. I slowly and carefully walked into the kitchen at 10am, a little embarrassed… Germaine offers me pancakes, I say I’ll eat the leftover oatmeal (cause I don’t want her to cook for me). I take it from the fridge, she takes it from me and turns to the microwave. Since the microwave is unplugged and you have to bend down to plug it in I gratefully leave her at it and go say Hi to mom. Next thing I know hot oatmeal and bowl of fresh fruit have appeared at my desk in mom’s office (where I am much of the day tackling my ‘Dana do list’). I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I ask Jared to get me a glass of cold water and before he could even move…there appears Germaine with a glass of water for me. She anticipated and tackled. I’d like to steal her. Don’t tell mom!!

3 comments:

Karen said...

Beloved daughter of mine - you may take many things from Haiti back to Canada with you, but Germaine is certainly not one of them. My children (who many want to take home with them)and Germaine are "unavailable". What on earth would I do without Germaine!!

Dickie MacDonald said...

Great Blog! Germaine is one of a kind, love her.

Keith said...

I agree - don't take Germaine, I am coming back next month!! Who would look after me? Great blogs on your trek up the mountains. Have a Merry Christmas with all the family.