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!

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