Monday, 31 August 2009

Mousekapades (spelling?)

Last night was pretty good. There was a local soccer game between the main town and the outskirts of town. I'm not entirely sure, but I was told the Pignon, the city, won. However, I heard the outer-parts of the town won as well. This latter information came from my host brother, Wilson, though, and the entire time he was running around chasing girls. So, I'm going to go with Pignon winning.

Other than that, it was an early night. Lights out with the sun, and I stayed up to read a little bit. However, in the middle of the night I woke up to the sounds of scampering and scratching. Now, the acoustics of the house are weird. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but there could be something way far away, and it sounds like it's in my room. With that said, I tried to discount it as just another random noise outside. But then it was under my bed. I felt it. A few times, actually.

At that point, even though it was in the middle of the night, I got out my little mini, yet powerful flashlight, turned it on, and the sounds stopped. Turned off the light. The scampering started again. I did this a few times until I heard it (by this time I deduced it was a mouse. For two reasons: 1. It was squeaking. 2. I had been here a week and no mice. Time was up.) run under my door. I got out of bed and shoved a washcloth under part of the door I thought was big enough for the mouse to squish through.

Unfortunately, he/she must have been using the entire door crack because I heard it run under the door and run into something in my room. I turned on my light and actually saw it scatter under the door. At this point, I grabbed my towel/piece of cloth/whatever and shoved it under the door.

The door it was running under is attached to the kitchen of the main house on the right of my room looking out from my bed. After I shoved the cloth under my door, it started running on the plates and silverware, plastic bags, and once or twice tried to get under the door again. It was one of the most rambunctious mice I've ever dealt with. It wasn't so much scary having a mouse in the room, it was the scratching and scampering noises in the pitch dark that were more unnerving. I'll try to keep the door under wraps from now on, but my guess is that it's inevitable.

As for work, Neil is stuck in the Dominican Republic today. His car broke down, and then he locked his keys in the truck. He should probably be getting back sometime tonight. My work is going slowly. I'm thinking about working on some sort of trash management system. This is way more work than I had originally thought. I'll see how that goes. It's still sort of in my interest range.

There is also a tree nursery plan that's in the works. So, I'm putzing around on the internet and sort of reading up on business plans and waste management facilities. That's all for now.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Outskirts of the office

So far, after lunch I've gone on a walk after eating. It's a good way to get out of the office and check out this side of Pignon. Mostly, it's grassland with mango trees randomly spaced on the footpaths. There are also some seriously equipped trees with massive spikes. They could totally take out an eyeball or testicle if you got too close.

Today, Javan and I explored a bit further than we did yesterday and we ended up in someone's sugar cane field, and then their corn field without a good way out. I sort of felt like a trapped goat. Eventually, we got around, but not after mildly surprising a man and his kid working on the field. I don't know if he was actually surprised or slightly amused. His kid was laughing.

We also made our way down to the river past a couple bulls and a kid on a horse. I have still yet to be fully ok with seeing people bathing in the river. I know they don't care, but there's that first glance at a bare chested lady and I can't help looking somewhere else. However, after she asked us for money, everything else fell right into place and, naked or no, things were a-okay.

Yesterday it rained pretty hard at the end of the day. Being a fan of thunderstorms, I got fairly excited about the hour of lightening and thunder prior to the rain and then the rain came. We were all tucked under the office's over hang, waiting it out. The secretary walked out in the middle of the storm with her green umbrella. It got pretty bad after that, but she showed up for work today, so I know she made it ok.

After getting back home and sleeping for a few hours, there was another outburst. I'm not sure how hard the rain was coming down, but I put my pillow over my head because it was coming down so hard and was super load on the tin roof. Then, as quickly as it came, it stopped; I rolled over on my bed (which I can feel the springs through, yay!) and went to sleep until the really loud rooster started making a raucous at 5:30. Good times.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

First week of work

So, not only did I get a new family, living quarters, town, bathroom, climate, etc., I also got a new job. It's funny because I've never really had a real office job. Now, it's only the second day and I know this will not be the typical office job by any means, but this is the first two days in a row that I've been parked in front of my computer looking up stuff. It's not too shabby thus far. There's actually cold water, by means of a water fountain (no on has yet to chat around it), a nice bathroom with educational reading (Neil gets the Economist, one of my favs, even though I only ever read like 3 articles in the 75 pages each week). All of my other jobs required more walking around, and no sitting. I kind of like having an office portion of the job. It's a new experience for me sharing an office. I can all of a sudden relate to all of the office jokes now, or can see myself maybe being able to relate to them.

The direction I hope to be going in with my stint in Haiti is some sort of way or another is trash, whether it be organic or non-organic. I kind of think organic would be more beneficial to the area, but I don't really know yet. It's only my second day at work. I'm pretty sure it will just run its course.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

My first night in the new digs.

Let's just say it was a bit of a surprise when I got to my new house and there was no ceiling on the shower and no door on either the toilet or the shower.

The house is in a very pleasant location and my host family, thus far has been nothing but hospitable. My room has a bed, a mosquito net, a mini bed stand that the Matt prior to me made, a table a two chairs, one which is holding my luggage/dresser of the ground. My host mother's name is Soulange (which I mentioned earlier), and there's Gran and Alix (I think that's it, but the pronunciation is a bit different). I'm not particularly clear what it was, but the second Soulange put the biggest plate of spaghetti and hotdog on my desk last night, I completely broke down and didn't eat any of it. Dinner is served in my bedroom at a little table with a chair. Eating alone, and not being hungry, and dirty and basically aimless, I had what you could say a meltdown.

Ha, the funny thing is I tried closing the door, but I got a knock and it was Soulange asking me if I was sleeping. No, then open the door. Oh man, I was totally embarrassed not only becuase I had red puffy eyes, but I didn't eat any of the gigantic plate of pasta she made me. That's when i decided to go take a shower at the guest house, a 30-min walk away, with about 45 min of sunlight left.

The shower has no windows, so I had to leave the door open, which was fine because only the older guard was around. Shower good, phone call to sister, good. Walk home, dark. I knew where I was going , but not really where to turn off. There was a woman with a chair on her head who asked where I was going and I told her, and she walked with me for awhile, and before she turned off, she shouted at someone behind us.

After walking for awhile, a man starts walking up behind me with a bottle in his hand, and I thought, well if he was going to do something, he would have already. Anyway, it turned out to be Javan's host father, and he walked me home. Oh and I forgot to mention it was lightening the entire way home, illuminating the path momentarily as I walked. Right as I got home, the whole family was out and waiting for me. Oops. And it started to rain.

Javan came over, and we chatted for awhile, and then right before he left, with lamp on his head, he lit up the biggest spider I've ever seen on my wall. He killed it, but needless to say, I was sitting in my bed for the rest of the night listening to every single sound from bug, animal or whatever else was out there. At one point there was something bright flying around and it scared the shit out of me because I was like, who's in my room. Ah, duh, it's a lightening bug.

Anyway, this is super long, and if you made it this far, good job. I think if it doesn't start raining soon, there's a soccer game in town. So, that should be exciting. Again, as for photos, I'll take some more, and then load them all up at one time. Ok, ciao ciao.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Eating un-ripe mangoes..

Thus concludes my cushy life in the guest house.

I got into Pignon on Wednesday evening and I was told that I wasn't going to be able to sleep at my house until Saturday because Soulange (I think that's how you spell her name) my "host mother" didn't have the food to feed me and needed to wait until market, which is Saturday, today. There was a group staying at the guest house from IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology). They were pretty great and nerdy engineers (if you guys read this I mean it with all sincerity).

The project they were working on involved setting up electricity to the town's high school. They were going to set up light and outlets, but as time had it, they only set up the lights. But it's pretty awesome since no other buildings in the town are hooked up to electricity except for a few people who can afford generators. The group needed to set up the solar panels to a battery or charger or something, and then hook it up to the rest of the school and feed the wire and set up the light switches and the circuit boxes for the light bulbs. I will not look a light fixture the same way.

Not knowing much about electrical currents and blah blah blah, I stripped wire, picked up trash and fed wire to people. I did get to set up a couple light fixtures, which I thought was very exciting.

The best part of them being (apart from their amicable personalities and senses of humor) was the weir (spelling?). The weir measures the flow of water in a stream. Without being too verbose about the experience, we drove for 40 min, then walked for 40 min, in which we crossed three streams (one we had to take our shoes off, roll up our pants and wade across), and several corn fields.

The stream was in a mini valley with banana trees every where on the sloping hillsides. The stream was about 3 to 6 feet across, and very clean. We drank from it. Oops. Everything so far has been fine.

As for the cushy life...all of my meals have been prepared by the Haiti Outreach cooks, and they did a fabulous job. The bedrooms were all furnished with Ikea bedding and towels, the showers were warm to hot and the toilets flushed, and there's wi-fi.

Today, I'm moving into Soulange's house. I'm fully prepared to decorate my mini room with my tapestry and photos on a ribbon (idea from Aria). I think Javan, the other intern, and I are going to go to the market later today. That should be interesting. Oh, and I'm going to set up a bank account possibly; not sure, however, since the line is super long and it's only open until like 11:30.

Other than that, I've been getting up and 6:30, if not earlier and going to bed at like 9, since everything kind of stops when there is no sun (no electrcity).

Kids roam freely who yell "blan" and ask us to give them something. Mostly, it's just a conditioned response to seeing white people, I think, sort of like another way of saying hello. Goats roam freely as well, and sometimes even baby goats. They are highly entertaining, as are the kids.

Pignon is surrounded sort of by moutain/hills, so not as hot as in Port-au-Prince. And I have to mention that right now I have two kids peeping in the window watching me type. It's funny because there is always an audience here. It's pretty great. But, yeah, other than that it's pretty beautiful. Such a lame description, but that's all I got right now.

I'll post some photos when I find my camera chord. It's lost in the abyss of my luggage. Ciao, for now.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

First day in Haiti

Ah, yes. First day here and we already got a mini tour of part of the city. No joke, it took like 45 min to an hour to get probably 8 miles to where we were going. Crazy mad traffic.

The flight this morning was at 6:30am, and if anyone has ever needed to get on a 6:30am flight, they know how much it totally blows. It actually wasn't that bad, and there was a pretty sweet ass sunrise to watch when we got to the airport. The flights were mostly uneventful. There was a handsome young man who sat next to me who I believe asked me if I was going to Columbia. I said no, but he still gave me a present at the end of the flight: a book note (I'm too tired to think of the real word right now. A thing that holds your page...) with his e-mail on it. Oh yea, baby.

Then layover, then flight. We got out luggage without any problems and the plane wasn't even late. So, all in all it went pretty well.

The mini tour was induced by the need of the two women I am traveling with at the moment, Peg and Jewlie, board members of Haiti Outreach, to get some art pieces from the iron works area. And as I said before, it took us at least an hour to get where we were going. We got turned around a couple times, but our driver (who was super chatty, wanted to practice his english), asked people walking on the street and we found it no problem. Jewlie and Peg went hog wild and got like 10 pieces of art, all for a reasonable price of $65. I think it's reasonable since it probably took them forever to make them.

And then we can back to our hotel, which is super swanky. I'm saying, high class Haitian, and like very decent American style. They have free wi-fi which is more than Starbucks can say.

That's about it today. Sleep is something I long to return. Which reminds me, the sun sets at like 6pm every night and rises at 6am. So, I do believe that my sleep schedule will be changing a bit once I no longer have electricity. Yup, that's all for now.