Haiti Week Two

This week wasn’t quite as event-filled as last week.

I’ve been out of the house quite a bit more this week.  One day I went with Shelley to pick up the kids
from the English-speaking Christian school they attend. We took a walk and checked out a really nice house they might rent for a guesthouse.  That night we stopped at a grocery store, which was surprisingly nice. We went to dinner at the school principal’s family’s house. He grew up in Japan and made us some really yummy Japanese food.

On Saturday Shelley took me to Petionville, which is the richer part of Port Au Prince. We took her motorcycle. It was my first time on one, and I have to say, it was pretty fun. She has a driver, so it was the three of us crammed on it. We stopped first at the Hotel Montana. The hotel itself was destroyed in the earthquake, but the beautiful grounds, pool and restaurant are still there. It’s way up on a hill and has a beautiful view of the city. The crazy thing is that there are these beautiful, expensive places, and then just blocks away, people are living in total poverty.

Just down the road from there was a line of street merchants with souvenirs. Most of the souvenirs here are made from recycled oil drums. (You may have seen the tin crosses and journals that The Apparent Project sells.) They make jewelry, wall hangings, frames, etc. out of them. There were also a lot of paintings, carved things and voodoo-related items, which are weirdly all sequined. It’s weird to me that souvenirs look so much the same no matter where you go. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of the same stuff in Mexico. We also stopped a really nice home décor store, an even nicer grocery store (felt like Fred Meyer’s but smaller) and finally a rooftop restaurant, which also had an amazing view. All of those places felt like places I’ve seen in the States, in fact, probably more expensive and nicer than places I’ve been too. I didn’t expect Haiti to have stuff like that.

One day I got to hold a baby girl named Gloria. Her mom was one of the original group of four women that Shelley taught how to make jewelry. It’s awesome to see this baby who’s so healthy and even chubby and know that she would probably be starving if her mom hadn’t been able to find work.

I’ve been on a couple more neighborhood walks with Shelley now and gotten to go in a few people’s houses and hold babies. So sweet.

Other than the Petionville outing, the weekend was really relaxed. I spent most of Sunday at the Clays watching movies and knitting samples. Keziah put my hair in a bunch of funky braids so I matched Ember.

I’ve been having a little more Haitian food here and there. It’s kind of the same thing over and over but it’s pretty good. The fruit here is just like Hawaii; mangos, avocados…all my favorites. The little ones requested I make pancakes with them one night. I forget how yummy pancakes are when you make them with white flour (or in this case, Bisquick.) They just come out so much fluffier than the healthy, whole wheat-y ones. Adding chocolate chips doesn’t hurt either.

Classes are going well. They’ve all finished baby hats and now I’ve split them up to do different projects. A couple of the ladies have already completed a pair of baby shoes. We made a bunch of yarn out of jersey sheets for market bags. It came out a little too wide, so today they unraveled their bags and started cutting it thinner. I decided to take more time to fix mistakes today, since Shelley would like them to be able to sell what they’re making in class if possible. The amount they’ve learned is amazing. I’m having them do stuff that I didn’t do until I’d been knitting for years. Shirly, my wonderful translator and I figured out how to give the students some written instruction today. They want to be able to work on their projects at home, and I think it’s really helping them understand what they’re doing.  I’m picking up a few words in Creole from them, which is fun.

 They thought it was pretty funny to put a baby hat on her bun.

Shelley’s parents are here for the week, and it’s Keziah’s birthday, so the weekend will probably be busy. Of course Hurricane Isaac could change all the plans. It’s supposed to hit here on Friday night. Please pray that it will change course. A hurricane is not what the people living in tent cities need right now.