Monday, July 23, 2012


I've been slowing packing (cleaning, purging, organizing) for the past few weeks. It's amazing what you can accumulate in 2.5 years! I've found a lot of things that I have held on to "just in case" which I actually I think is quite justified as when you live in Haiti, you never really know when you'll need something and can't just run out and buy it (body wash, shampoo, clothes patches, cough drops, etc). Turns out a lot of the "just in case" stuff was buried at the bottom of a rubbermaid and I had forgotten about it. Whoops!

I've been sorting through things and really asking myself "what do we need?". When I did this exercise in Canada, I ended up keeping a lot of stuff. When I do this now, living in Haiti, the "keep" pile is a lot smaller and the "give" pile is bigger. When I think of my neighbours around me, it's really hard for me to justify bringing home 8 pairs of shoes (all summer shoes) to Canada. It's been such a joy to bless those around me with these small gifts.

At the same time, I've been going through my clothes and have realized just how hard Haiti is on them. Getting handwashed and lined dried every week has really done a number on them - stretched, faded & worn. I do believe we'll have to do a clothes shopping trip upon arrival - especially to get seasonally appropriate clothes!

I do believe that we'll be able to get everything into 3 checked bags plus our carry-ons, which I think is pretty impressive. I moved down here with 2 checked bags and 2 carry-ons and this time Cal is with me! What I haven't accounted for is the gifts that people will want to send, namely casav which is a traditional Haitian flat bread that weighs a ton and seemingly lasts forever!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Question #3 - What has been your most challenging experience living in Haiti?

Anonymous (would love to know your name) asked me this question.

It's hard to name just one challenging experience - there have been so many (earthquake, cholera, outbreak, learning Creole, etc.). But one of the most challenging things for me on a daily basis has been learning to give up my independence and control. There are so many things that I just can't easily do for myself. As we don't have a car, we just can't decide to drive into Cap to visit someone or go out for dinner. I need someone with me to go to the market. If there is a problem with the water or electricity I have to wait for it to be fixed.I think that  I have come a long way and have learned to be more dependent on others.

Related to giving up control, with so many needs and poverty here its easy to get overwhelmed and want to fix everything. I think I have learned that it is not my place or responsibility to do that. I can do my small part, but in the grand scheme of things, only God has the power through his people to really change things.

Thanks for the questions! Keep them coming!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Question #2 - Can I see pictures of where you live?

Anonymous asked me to post some pictures of where we live and of daily life.

Here is the front of the house we live in. We live in an apartment in the walk out basement.
Our kitchen/living area

my office - i know you are jealous!
 For some pictures of daily life, check out this post.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Question #1 - What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

My Auntie Roxanna has the first question - "What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?".

We always have coffee, usually just a small cup each. My coffee consumption has dramatically decreased since moving here! Most Haitians only drink coffee in the morning, not throughout the day like North Americans do. Cal was just telling me this morning that he has just learned to "like" coffee since we've been married.
We eat eggs several times a week - boiled, scrambled or fried. It's a good extra source of protein for us. We occasionally have oatmeal or cornflakes. Cal often fries some salami. Sometimes we just have bread and avocado if we have it.
And we usually eat some fruit - bananas usually or mangos when they are in season.

During the week, Marlene (our cook) makes us lunch. It's our biggest meal of the day and she normally makes something Haitian for us. We will have rice, bean sauce, beef in creole sauce, rice and beans cooked together, fried chicken, fried plantain, beet salad, beef and corn gratin, Haitian spaghetti, macaroni casserole, Haitian stew, etc. She usually makes us fresh fruit juice as well.
It's always good and basically fills us up for the day.

I've gotten really lazy with suppers. When we were first married, I tried to make supper everyday - soup, pasta, leftovers, etc. But, I soon realized that we really didn't need to eat that much. Now that we have the dinner portions under control (if we have extras, we usually invite someone to eat with us or give it away), we don't feel obligated to eat up the leftovers. If I have lettuce, I will sometimes make a salad. Usually, Cal ends up eating something at his parents' house (they still leave food set aside for him) and I'll snack on some fried goodness that we buy down the road!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


With our time coming to a close here, you've probably noticed that I've been blogging more than before. There are a few reasons - our internet connection has been way more reliable lately (I can even upload photos), I'm not busy with groups and I partly just want to write down things so i will remember them - I gave up writing in my journal after about 4 months here!

That being said, since I haven't always been consistent, I haven't written about all aspects of life in Haiti. Many things that are everyday to me now, might be interesting to you. So, do you have any questions for me about life in Haiti? If so, leave a comment and ask me? I'll do my best to answer you!

Riding through the storm

Cal's dad got some new medication prescribed yesterday. In case you are wondering what he has, we are not sure. We know that he is anemic right now which is causing headaches, sore feet and overall weakness. He's been a bit better the past couple of days, but not back to his old self.

Anyways, I thought that we had agreed that Cal would go to Limbe to get the medication yesterday after lunch, since we didn't have it in the pharmacy in the clinic. However, when I called Cal at 3:30, he still hadn't gone so I asked him to come pick me up and we could go together.

It had been super hot and sunny yesterday. I took a quick shower when I got home and was contemplating taking the laundry off the line before we left. But it was just 4 pm, and we still had at least 3 hours of daylight left, so I left it on the line.

Cal showed up, I hopped on the bike and we were off. We got to the national road intersection and I looked to the right and noticed some very dark, menacing clouds - as if they appeared out of no where. We were going to have to make a very quick trip if we wanted to beat the storm.

Limbe is just a few miles down the road from us, takes us about 10 minutes to get there on the moto. We arrived as the wind was beginning to pick up. We turned down the street with the pharmacy and pulled up in front. Just as we got inside, the wind REALLY picked up and some rain started to fall. Cal was in discussions with the pharmacist as to whether they actually had what we needed. Apparently they didn't have the suspension prescribed, so we called the doctor to see if we could get pills instead. Yep, that was okay.

All the while I'm looking outside, seeing branches and debris flying by. People running down the street home. The sandwich board in front of the pharmacy toppled with a big bang. Calls of "siklon" or hurricane could be heard.

As Cal was finishing to pay up, I asked what our plan was - do we wait it out in Limbe or make a dash for home? He has a cousin in Limbe that we could visit, but once we got on the bike and started going, he decided we should just try to go home. I let him make the decision as he knows best and knows that Limbe is infamous for flooding quickly when a storm comes.

So off we went. It was raining, not a lot, but what was falling was very cold and hit your body hard because of the force of the wind - I thought hail was hitting me!

We weaved in and out of debris and got on the national road to home. I basically held on as tightly as I could and closed my eyes! The worst parts were in the open areas where the wind could really push you around. Cal kept asking if I was scared. I said yes and he just laughed and said everything would be fine.

By the time we were half way home, things started to lighten up. Apparently the storm had passed through Haut Limbe first. When we arrived, the streets were bare and there were branches everywhere. We arrived at Cal's family's house and delivered the medication and then Cal went to check on our laundry. Thankfully, there is always someone in our yard, so they had taking down our laundry before it was blown all over town.

The temperature dropped quite a bit in the evening - unfortunately it wasn't enough to cool down the concrete walls, so it was still a pretty warm sleep when the power went off. But oh well! We made it home safe and that is all I was concerned with!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Being sick in Haiti

Being sick is not fun. Being sick in Haiti is especially not fun.

I've had my share of sickness while in Haiti - common colds, dehydration, GI issues, malaria, etc. I'm thankful that I've escaped (knock on wood) dengue fever.

Thankfully when I've been sick, I always have 1, 2 or 3 doctors at my disposal for a house call. It's so nice not to have to get up and go sit at a clinic for hours when you feel horrible. I know, I'm spoiled - that's not the reality for Haitians here.

I'm also spoiled in that if I'm really sick, I can ask for electricity so that I have a working fan and power for my computer so that I can watch movies to pass the time when I've been confined to bed and the bathroom for several days in a row.

What I love (?) about being sick in Haiti is that you always have people to take care of you. When I lived in Canada, I had my own apartment so I was on my own if I needed something. Not here.

Part of Haitian culture is that you visit people who are sick. Most people don't go to the hospital, but stay at home and once word gets around that you are sick, people start coming by. You always have to make sure you have a chair or two available to receive guests.

The first time I got really sick, it was with malaria. I felt like crap! But, visitors came so I had to receive them, no matter how I felt or looked! Guests don't stay for long, and often not much is said. They just sit with you awhile. It annoyed me at first, but now it is something I really appreciate. The last time I was sick, Cal's dad stopped by no less than 5 times a day to check on me and make sure I was eating! People go out of their way to make sure you know that they care about you - that doesn't happen as much in North American culture, unless you are seriously ill in the hospital.

Cal's dad has been sick for the past week and a bit. We think he is getting better now. He was confined to home, which is a huge deal as he is a farmer and walks out to his garden about 30 minutes away at least once a day to check on the cows and tend the land. We've been spending a lot of time helping to take care of him and pick up some of the tasks he usually does, which includes market shopping! Cal and I have made to market trips for ourselves and his family this week. I always appreciated what his dad did for us before, but know I do all the more! Besides going to the market twice a week, he is always stopping by with fresh bananas, mangoes, plantains, pineapples, etc. Little things, but so appreciated. The other day he asked if we were eating okay, he wanted to make sure we weren't suffering since he was sick. I assured him that we were eating just fine!

We are praying that he gets back to good health soon, not just so he'll go to market for us, but so that we can enjoy our last few weeks with him before we go.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What I'm going miss. What I'm looking forward to.

As we've been preparing to leave Haiti, my mind is constantly thinking about things that I will miss here and what I'm looking forward to about living in Canada. Here are some of my thoughts.

I'm going to miss:
  • sunshine and heat
  • swimming in the warm ocean
  • eating fried fish and plantain at the beach
  • fresh fruit juice - orange, grapefruit, lime, papaya, passion fruit, cherry, mango, pineapple, etc.
  • eating fresh mangoes, avocados, bananas, etc.
  • greeting people with a kiss on the cheek
  • saying "amen" aloud during a church service
  • walking literally across the road to church
  • riding on a motorcycle
  • eating marinad and pikliz on the side of the road
  • the view from the top of the mountain behind our house
  • getting a pedicure for $5 or less
  • Haitian coffee
  • holding hands while walking/talking
  • showing other Canadians life in Haiti
  • always having people around
  • having someone to do my laundry and cook for me during the week
  • cheap cell phone minutes!
  • listening and dancing to kompa
  • drinking Coke out of a glass bottle
  • being a few hours drive from the Dominican Republic
  • relaxed pace of life with the emphasis on relationships
  • sleeping with just a sheet to cover
  • hearing the roar of cheers when the electricity comes on or when Brazil scores
  • warm rain
  • seeing 4 plus people riding on one motorcycles
  • walking everywhere
  • sitting on a porch and visiting

I'm looking forward to:
  • driving my car on smooth roads
  • being about to go to a restaurant or movie
  • 24 hour electricity
  • 24 hour running water
  • drinking water from the tap
  • not tasting or smelling chlorine
  • having a desk with a comfortable chair to work at
  • comfortable chairs in general!
  • strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, apricots, etc
  • eat fresh raw vegetables!
  • cooking and being able to buy meat easily 
  • a fridge that is always cold
  • reliable, fast internet
  • sleeping with a blanket
  • understanding an entire church service
  • watching the news
  • hot showers
  • knowing cultural norms and expectations
  • being able to use a debit card and not always carrying cash
  • grocery stores with more selection than a small convenience store
  • ice in drinks!
  • the occasional latte or cappuccino
  • affordable cheese
  • walking on roads/sidewalks without constantly looking where I take a step
  • clean toilets with running water and toilet paper
  • clothes that aren't stretched from hand washing and bleached from hanging in the sun.
  • shopping for new clothes!
  • "running errands" and being able to accomplish what I set out to do
  • not hearing roosters, dogs or music at all hours of the night
  • always finding gas at the gas station
  • Christmas with snow and a Christmas tree
  • Thai and Indian food
And lastly, it is our family and friends that we will miss most from Haiti and at the same time we are most looking forward to being near our family and friends in Canada!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The big news!

I left you hanging in June when I said that I would let you know our future plans after Cal got his visa. Well, Cal got his Temporary Residence Visa for Canada (valid until his passport expires in 3 years) and so... we are moving to Canada! Some of you have known this for awhile, but this is the first time I've mentioned it on the blog.

Our plan is leave Haiti the first week of August, go over to the DR for a few days and fly out of Puerto Plata on August 10 to Saskatoon.

This may seem sudden to some of you, but it's been a plan in the making for quite awhile. After Cal and I got married, we decided that we would continue to live in Haiti for the next year or two and would evaluate along the way how long we would stay. Back around the New Year, we began talking and praying about moving to Canada by the end of 2012. After the busy group season, we got to work on Cal's visa paperwork and praise the Lord he was granted the visa at the end of June.

Leaving in August makes the best sense to us as we do not have any groups confirmed for the near future, we can try to transition to the Canadian climate while it's still summer, I found a reasonable flight on WestJet and we get to miss some of the REALLY HOT SUMMER in Haiti.

As you can imagine, it is with mixed emotions that we are leaving. I often describe it to people as bittersweet. We are excited for what the future holds - being closer to my family and friends, getting Cal's permanent residence, settling down and working and hopefully starting our family someday. At the same time, we will deeply miss our family and friends here, our work with the clinic, Haitian food and culture and when it is January in Winnipeg - the heat!

Our hope is to settle down in Winnipeg eventually. I'm currently seeking employment there and will work on that more when we are back in country. Once we get settled, we'll start the LONG process of applying for Cal's Permanent Residence. Please pray that this will be a smooth process.

What are we doing before we leave? Spending time with family and friends, helping to plan a retreat for the clinic at the end of July and hopefully getting in a couple more beach days!

Please pray for us as we begin this time of transition!