Last night my job had a small get together for one of the staff that was leaving to pursue a PhD. It was a small gathering and everyone went around in a circle saying feel good things. After that we all enjoyed cold Prestige beers and Barbancourt rum. I had a few and was enjoying myself and the cool Cange breeze. While talking to some of my coworkers I noticed a group of people almost carrying a woman who could barely stay on her feet. One of my coworkers ran to go help and we all followed her. Someone brought a stretcher and we ended up carrying her to the ER and then a doctor came and started taking her blood pressure. It turns out that this woman is in the VERY late stages of breast cancer. She came from St. Marc, which is about a 3 hour drive to Cange to get seen. Anyone who has family that has had any form of cancer knows the importance of catching it early. This woman will probably die because of lack of knowledge and access. Sometimes you see patients here that have illness or injuries that you know aren’t supposed to go unnoticed for long. Here, not the case at all.
At this party I attended, one of the bigger bosses of the org was there with his son. Young kid, in college doing his thing. He had on some shiny new puma kicks that I complimented him on. This guy who is a head honcho at the org is one of like 17 kids and he’s done pretty well for himself. His younger brother works at the house I live in as what we call in Haiti “guardian or gason lakou”. His job is to receive people that come, run errands, lift heavy anything and kind of maintain “order”. Anyways, this guy is very poor. When you first look at him your first inclination is to head for the hills. His eyes are always red; he is missing his 2 front teeth and has a staring problem. However, he a really nice dude and loves his wife and 4 kids very much. His kids are around the house sometimes and they are all cute and polite. He loves to talk about them, how smart they are and how he will do anything to make sure they finish school. For me it was just a shock to realize how differently these 2 brothers live.
Dos Bwa Rouge
Last Saturday I participated in mobile clinic with visiting residents from the US, DRC, Rwanda and Port au Prince in an area called Dos Bwa Rouge. “Dos Bwa Rouge” means the back of red trees or the back of red wood. Either way that shit was far. I was asked to go on Friday to help with translating and anything else I could do. The next morning I came down to breakfast with a button down shirt, khakis, shoes and my glasses. When I got to breakfast a co-worker of mine looks at me and whispers “Um, there’s a short hike to the area we’re going to”. “Short hike” I ask? The head doctor of the org I work for tells me it’s about a 2-3 hour hike both ways. WTF? So I went back and put on shorts, a tee shirt, sneakers and contacts. So there were about 30 of us so we all went in this huge bus that the org owns. Man, just like me this bus was not ready for all of this. Once we got past the paved road in Lascahobas, we were on all types of jacked up back roads. We got to this one stream and try to cross it, uh yeah no.
The driver tells us we have to get off the bus. So I get out and land straight in a stream of water. My feet were soaked and it pretty much set the precedent for the rest of my day. We all pushed the bus and we kept going. 10 min later this happens:
We all decided it would be best to just hike the rest of the way.
Man oh man. I’ve hiked before, but this was by far the hardest shit I’ve ever done. It’s not so much the distance, but the sun. The sun in Haiti is oppressive. Haiti is not the hottest place I’ve ever been to. The winner to that is Mali. But, let me tell you Haiti is like 1.b. Here it’s all about the sun. It will always find you. You could be chillin’ under the shade, but the sun knows you have to come over eventually. Someone brought up “You know these people have to make this hike everyday”. I did not see a single Haitian person hiking up that God damn hill when we were hiking it. We decided to start hiking at 10am which is when the sun is doing pushups. At one point one woman who has comfortably sitting under a tree saw my tall, pale and white coworker struggling up the mountain. She goes “the sun is going to kill that white man.” Finally we get up to Dos Bwa Rouge where the community was waiting for us. It seems that Haitians will always tell you “Doc, I have pain here” pointing under the center of their chest. Gas. Then you’ll have the occasional 87 year old women saying “My entire body hurts”. I’m 28 and my entire body hurts and you work 5 xs as hard as me. Then you have the very serious issues – an 8 year old boy with reoccurring malnutrition or a VERY pregnant woman who is about to pop and hasn’t seen a doctor once. Despite the varieties of issues that people in Haiti have, they all have a crazy sense of humor. Towards the end of the day the visiting residents asked for some water since they’d been working nonstop. Unfortunately, we ran out of water and ad to find an alternative. The doctor that was running the mobile clinic asked a man if the town had a store that sold water. Here’s how that conversation went down:
Doctor: Hey, do you guys sell water here?
Man: We do, but we’re out of bottle water. We only have treated water.
Doctor: (long pause) what about soft drinks?
Man: Yeah, I can get you soft drinks.
Doctor: Alright, bring me the soft drinks. Are they cold?
Man: Yeah, they’re room temperature.
Doctor: Alright great!
10 minutes alter this dude comes back with a case of HOT ASS soft drinks that ranged from strawberry soda to Malt beverages (Malta) all in dusty ass bottles. The doctor and I looked at each other. I had one bottle of water left in my back pack. I put my hand on the bag just feeling it there made the thirst go away. On the way down I turned to greet some women who carrying plantains on their head and rolled my ankle on a rock.
Since I finished “The Wire” I’ve now moved on to “24”. That’s like from drinking fresh squeezed orange juicy to drinking sunny delight because it’s on sale. I don’t want to say its bad show, but the craziness of it refuses me from calling it good. The wire was a total cerebral experience, 24 hurts my eyes once I’m done watching it. The best part about 24 is that my roommate is into it as well. He dubs it in French and actually finished season one last night. His reactions are the absolute best. Watching him spaz out in the corner because Jack’s stupid ass (but fly) daughter does some dumb ass shit that puts the entire family in danger is priceless. I think after season one I am going to take a time out from 24. Next show up, Boardwalk Empire.