It’s been a long time since I left you, without a blog post to step to (step to 6x).
It’s Sunday afternoon in peaceful Cange over looking mountains beyond mountains. I have been here just over 4 weeks and it feels like I’ve been here 6 months. So much goes on here every day it’s really hard to explain all of it. Things are picking up as I get used to work and life here. Now that I kind of have my feet on the ground I can say I am currently based in 2 cities. The first one is Cange which is very quiet and small. Within Cange I stay in the compound which kind of feels like a campus. It’s its own world and it is the Medical world. I like staying here because it reminds me of home in the sense that it’s very easy to adapt to. I made 2 good friends here both of which are American. I am cool with the main US staff, but these 2 dudes are the realest. So that’s one of the things that make Cange cool. What I don’t like though it’s a bubble and you get caught in it. While what goes on here is real, it doesn’t always feel like reality. I am sectioned off and only see a part of what goes on in the central plateau. That is why I have been staying more where I was originally supposed to be based in Mirebalais. Mirebalais is a small city that is very hustle bustle. There I have 2 roommates, one is a Psychologist and the other dude is kind of an office manager. Both are around my age and pretty chill. Even though the house in Mirebalais is not that homey, I like that I am living with Haitians and chillin with them as well. That’s what is missing in Cange. When I am in Cange I stand out as a foreigner more. It’s probably because I am with program staff or the volunteers all the time. People in Cange automatically know what the deal is and it makes it harder to be 100% comfortable and easier to retreat to the los blancitos. In Mirebalais I am just blending in like a chameleon which is how I like it. The majority of people outside of Cange are surprised when I tell them I am American and that I’ve been here for 4 weeks. I’m making more Haitian friends by being in Mirebalais which is kind of cool. I have never had Haitian friends in Haiti except for people in my family. While my family is amazing, I have always been introduced into their way of doing things which is different from the way I do it. Everywhere I’ve lived or studied included an independent component that I’ve never had in Haiti. NYC, Rio and Bamako I’ve been able to come and go how I please — In Haiti not so much. Even though I work here I am still limited into where I can go and where, but I hope to be able to change that soon. I hope at some point I learn to drive here. Not having your own car is like not having legs in Haiti. You basically have to wait for someone to carry you around from place to place.
Work is good. Mad exhausting but good. I feel like I am all over the place. One day I’m in an all day meeting with doctors, the next day I’m doing site visits helping choose sites for youth programs. One thing I love about this gig is that I am seeing parts of the country I would never have seen otherwise. I went to a few spots this past week where I was like “wow, this country is beautiful”. One is called Seaux D’eau where there is this huge natural water fall. Another place which is a sleeper is called Marche Canard. It literally means Duck Market. We crossed this small river and then I was in this little city with Ducks waddling everywhere straight chillin. If there was some sort of leadership in Haiti, it could be a tourist hot spot. Unfortunately, that doesn’t currently exist but I’m hopeful that eventually it will. That’s another thing that has been new for me. Hope for Haiti. Watching the news about Haiti on CNN doesn’t make me hopefully. The media has a way on just showing us the worst of the worst. The Media has made it where when you mention Haiti people think starving babies, earthquake, cholera and political unrest. Do those exist? Clearly they do, but there is so much more that no one sees. I have been lucky enough to see these things and work to ameliorate those communities. Within these communities are people who are ready to work really hard to make change. Sometimes I wonder if those in power know about these people. Haiti’s 2nd round elections are in about 2 weeks. The candidates are Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly. Manigat is well respected in Haiti and has experience in politics. Michel Martelly aka Sweet Micky is respected because of popularity. Whoever wins I hope has Haiti’s best interest at heart.
I tried growing a beard. It was going well until I started looking like a hobo. Mission failed. I’ve also realized that dressed to impress Joel needs to make appearances once in a while. People here don’t play. Ladies got their toes and hair done all the time, dudes hair cuts are on point and OD on the cologne. So now I’m less inclined to look less like “who shot ya” and clean up a bit more.
So I’ve gotten into a bootleg workout routine to stop myself from blowing up like the world trade. The dudes I live with in Mirebalais wake up at 5:30 to work out in the mornings. I’ve started to join them. At first waking up at 5:30 was pretty horrible. There is nothing worse than waking up when it’s dark out. But you know what? Just like cold showers, waking up early is sadly getting easier and easier. As a matter of fact, I feel guilty when I wake up at past 6:30. This also means crashing at like 9:34 pm every night, mad sad yo. Anyways the first day we worked out and it was kind of comedic. When a Haitian person tells me you “oh I work out”, you need to witness it to see if they really work out. Moving around and making breathing noises is not working out. That’s what goes down, until this one dude Jacquelyn rolls though. This guys works with us and is a monster. The other day we had a “séance abdomineux” aka abs work out. That shit was crazy. I’m still in pain now and even laughing hurts. I still need to work on increasing my cardio while I’m out here, because carbs are winning the battle. Lately gaining weight hasn’t been concerning me, but cholesterol level has. I never had cholesterol problems in my life, but um yeah. Another dope thing about Mirebalais is that the cook (LUCY) asked me what I liked and I was like VEGITABLES and FRUIT. So she hooks it up and yam them shits down not just because it’s good, but it because I need that roughage son.
Weekend in Port-au-Prince
Last weekend was my 28th birthday. Shout out to everyone who showed me love. I really appreciated it. When I’m away from home it means even more to me. I got to spend a wonderful weekend with my family who spoiled me (as usual). Went to Pizza Garden (that’s right Pizza Garden), home of the best pizza in the western hemisphere. I chilled with my cousin and his wife (newlyweds) in their new home, saw many aunts, cousins and uncles, went to the beach and then finished it off by watching the new look New York Knicks (Stat and Melo 3x) beat the corny ass Miami Heat. What was also cool is that I got to see some New School peeps who are working in PaP. It was REAL dope seeing them because like I said before I am not used to having friends outside of my family in Haiti. However, as much as I hate to say it, Port Au Prince is done. I think PaP by far is the most depressing place in all of Haiti. We are more than a year since the earthquake and PaP is still a giant shit show. I know a year is really not that much time, but man oh man. Tent camps, NGOs, NGO SUVs and NGO workers a dominating the capital of Haiti. Haiti has become the Cancun of the humanitarian world and I guess I’m a part of it. What made me realize that I am a part of it was when I saw my friends from New School at this bar I went to with my cousin his wife and friends. I saw them and automatically wanted to chill with them. It turned out that I spent more time with them at the bar than I did with my cousin and his peeps. I couldn’t help it; I have more in common with them. But, when it was all done I took a step back and realized that I’m a part of this world. This makes me even happier that I don’t work in Port au Prince. The majority of NGO workers that working in Port au Prince, regardless of if they work hard or not are contributing to the ongoing problem. It’s similar to the gentrification that has been dominating NYC for years now. We (NGOs) are controlling the market. Everything is gear towards us and our salaries. When I bought my beer at the bar the total was given to me in US dollars. The dollar has been dominating Haiti for a while, but now it’s screwing everyone over. Also, there is nothing worse than going to a restaurant that is across the street from a tent camp. That’s rubbing it in and I wouldn’t be surprised if revolt were to take place. I’m just saying. Imagine you live in a tent with your kids and the people who are supposed to help you are at the expensive boogie restaurant across the street.
What I miss
Aside from family and friends, I miss basketball…like a lot. Knicks get Melo when Joel is in Rural Haiti. Great. I also miss going to bars and just chillin. NYC bar scene is like no other in the world. What I would do for a six point beer and a flat screen TV showing New York Knickerbockers basketball.
Next time I post, I promise for some pictures…..