Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rat La (The Rat)

When I was deciding whether I would come to Haiti or not, I played a lot of scenarios in my head. I imagined all exciting things about coming here – meeting new people, learning a new language and culture, experiencing life in a different country, etc. I also imagined all of the risks or things that would make me uncomfortable – having to eat food I don’t like, struggling to learn a new language and not being able to communicate, getting sick, cold showers, unreliable water supply, limited electricity, living with bugs, cockroaches, spiders, rats. In my time here, I’ve experienced all of these things, good and bad and have been okay with it, until early Monday at 4:30 am.

For some reason I woke up (I usually don’t wake up during the night). I decided to go to the washroom. When I came back to my room with my flashlight in hand, I saw (and heard) something scurry across the spare bed in my room – a rat!!! I’ve seen rats in my here – but they were always outside or in other buildings, not my house, never mind my room. I let out a scream and stood frozen. I didn’t know what to do. It scurried up the wall, onto my shelves and climbed the window screen. I let out a few more screams and then ran to the stairwell to yell for Jimmy (Manno’s cousin who lives downstairs and the only other person in the house) to come because I saw a rat. Jimmy comes upstairs, pillowcase in hand and Mama isn’t far behind (she heard my screams from the other house). I show them where it is, and before they can do anything, it runs out the door, probably out the window to its home in the trees. Mama gives me a hug, tells me not to be scared and to go to sleep with my door shut. For the record, my door is always closed when I sleep, however it has quite a large gap at the bottom just the right size for a rat to sneak under. I go back to bed, curl up in a ball, afraid to leave my bed, or my room, not knowing when the rat is going to come back. I must have fallen asleep eventually, but it wasn’t very restful.

In the morning, everyone in the house knew what had happened (they heard the screams) and were making fun of me for being scared of a rat. They said “Ayiti gen anpil rat yo” (Haiti has a lot of rats) as if I didn’t know that. Apparently it doesn’t phase them when a rat scampers by them while they are sleeping. And apparently I was supposed to yell “amwe”, not just scream, so that people knew to come. Oh the things I am learning.

So, even though there are a lot of rats in Haiti, I’m not happy that they can come into my room whenever they please. I hope we can get the bottom of my door fixed, but I’m not holding my breath. Maybe someday I will be okay with rats running around my room, but it’s not going to be in the next few days. Thankfully, I’m going to house/bird sit at Steve and Nancy’s until Friday. Maybe I’ll catch on my lost sleep!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to write about Haiti

I found this article posted on another blog I read. Something to think about...

Click here to read it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Haitian Wedding

Sister Yadlee and me after the ceremony.
I went to my third Haitian wedding on Saturday. Every one that I have attended has been different, so I have yet to fully understand what a traditional Haitian wedding is like. I guess they are all different, depending on the couple, much like in Canada. I do have a few observations though.

Haitian brides look either bored or terrified during the ceremony – it seems like they would rather be anywhere else but at their own wedding.

There must be at least one choir at every wedding.

People dress up in their finest clothes – the shinier the better.

Bride and Groom during the ceremony.
There must be at least one Celine Dion song played during the ceremony – in French or English. Yesterday they played “All By Myself” – which I found a bit funny, since it was a wedding. But of course, no one else clued into that – it was a Celine Dion song and it had a nice melody!

The photographer will do anything to get a good shot of the couple – meaning they will stand at the front, blocking everyone else’s view during most of the ceremony.

The bride, groom, and their attendants get to sit in fancy chairs on the platform for the ceremony. They only stand up when it’s time to say the vows and exchange rings.

Weddings are usually in French – to show that you are intellectual – even though many of the guests aren’t able to speak French.

Haitians don’t like to linger at the reception – they eat their food and get out! I think it mostly has to do with the fact that its getting dark by that time and many people will have to walk or take public transport to get home.

Tampico is the drink of choice for any festive occasion.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Since Being Back...

I've been back in Haiti for 2 weeks and just realized that I haven't posted here to let you all know that I did indeed make it back here safely. Yep, I'm back and the trip went relatively smoothly. I had a few moments in Fort Lauderdale when I thought I wouldn't get to fly out because a tropical storm was due to approach south Florida, but we made it out even if we were a bit delayed because US Customs' computers were down (for a moment I thought I was already in Haiti!).

What's been happening since I've been back?
  • I celebrated my 30th birthday with my Haitian friends and family with pizza, popcorn, lots of ice cream and a couple of trips to Cap Haitian.
  • I said good bye to Shauna who has finished up her time in Haiti and is on her way back to Canada.
  • I endured the many comments of "ou gwo" or "you're big" after eating a North American diet for 3 + weeks. Being told "ou gwo" is actually a huge compliment in Haiti, but I don't think North Americans will ever be able to take it that way.
  • I've been to 4 futbol games so far. Now that the World Cup is over, the regular futbol leagues have commenced and everyday around 4:30 or so, life stops to go watch a match at the neighbouring town.
  • I've been enjoying my new Dell Laptop with 8 hour battery life to watch a Friends episode or two in the evening when there is no electricity.
  • and finally... Wyclef Jean is running for President of Haiti??? Not too sure what I think about that one yet.