Back in the Saddle...
It's been a crazy few weeks. It's always a strange transition for me back to the United States when I'm coming from Haiti, and now it's a strange transition for me coming back to Haiti. In some respects going home, which I consider to be either place now, feels like you've never been away, and yet like you've been gone for a lifetime! What's strange here is that my life in the United States is SO entirely different from my life in Haiti. And yet, I love them both. Both have ups and downs. It was good to be in my USA home...and it's good to be back in my Haiti home.
The transitions this time have been MANY. I left my first prolonged trip in Haiti for the States as a single woman, and now I am promised to be married...that in and of itself is a strange transition.
I left Haiti, and a world of getting by for the Holiday of Thanksgiving, a time of excess, and thankfulness.
I left the United States for Haiti heading to a different part of this country I called home, and instead of being the American who can kind of speak kreyol and jokes with everyone, I was Madam Lionel. (In Haiti, when you are married...or engaged as it seems...you don't take your husbands last name necessarily. You become known as Madam "first name of your man"...so there, I am Madam Lionel.) I of course always joke when people say, "oh you're madam lionel." I say, "Actually...he's Mr. Rachel." Usually people laugh...
I was only supposed to head down to Les Cayes for a few days. I had a lot of work to do in PAP and was anxious to be back after being gone for almost two weeks. I have a rythmn at my home in PAP...or at least, as much of a rythmn as one can have here. I didn't take money with me to Les Cayes...I didn't take a lot of clothes...I didn't take a book...and I forgot my conditioner!
I had to learn a new kind of dependence in Les Cayes...Only two people that I met in Lionel's town spoke English...that's fine...we're in Haiti...it's not their language...but when everyone is speaking Kreyol at the speed of light, I found myself feeling very left in the dust. Here in PAP, my Haitian friends know that I can mostly understand what's going on if they speak slowly enough and use the right words. In Les Cayes, no one knew that...and kreyol was FLYING. I was lost. I relied upon my fiance to tell me what was going on.
I didn't have any money. No money to buy phone cards. No money to buy food. No money to buy a coke when I wanted one. I had to rely on my fiance to buy things when I needed them.
I didn't have many clothes with me...I had to rely on Lionel's sister to wash them for me.
I didn't have conditioner. Ok...there was no one to rely on for this one. I just had to give up my vanity and be ok with my crazy Haitian hair. But when you're trying to make a goI od first impression, and you don't feel like the best representation of yourself, it can be a little frustrating.
Then there was the whole election craziness. We ended up being in Les Cayes for over an entire week. I had no idea when we would be able to head back to Port Au Prince. On top of it all I had a Dr. in Haiti need help getting a medical visa. I was trying to do the paper work by using the internet I was taking from a hospital up the hill from Lionel's house twice a day. It was frustrating. I felt completely disarmed. Usually, I can make things happen. It seemed I could do anything.
The house where were staying had indoor plumbing but there was so water pump...meaning I couldn't even flush the toilet on my own for the first 4 or 5 days. This independent girl had reached her limit.
I couldn't cook, I couldn't clean, I couldn't travel, I couldn't carry my own water...I felt like a complete failure. (No one else felt this way...just me.)
I was horrible to live with.
And yet, it was good to be in Les Cayes...to learn a different side of life. To talk with people...to practice kreyol...to hear about people who want the best for their children, who need jobs, who laugh, and care about politics, who want to see more from their country.
I'll write more later about some of the political crazy going on here...and I'll tell you more about the crazy weird, frustrating, week we've had with the US Embassy and immigration, trying to get a Medical Visa for a 7 year old girl who needs heart surgery. It amazes me. Most of my frustration this week in Haiti had nothing to do with Haiti and everything to do with Americans. As a member of the Western, more developed nations, it's easy to think that everything works better in our countries that it does here...but that's simply not the case. There are so many breakdowns in American systems, and this week there is a sick little girl who is losing because of it. It's not fair that she has to grow up in Haiti with an absent father and a mother that can't care for her. It's not fair that she has a hole in her heart. It's not fair that she can't go to school. And it's not fair that the Embassy is not giving her a visa when she has doctores and families ready to pay for her every move in a three months stay in the United States. But...this is life in Haiti.
More to come.
It's good to be back.