Saturday, April 13. Arrived at the Port-au-Prince airport and through a crowd of red-shirted porters found the folks who were there to pick me up. With a stop for groceries and a SIM card the drive through heavy traffic to Léogâne, our home base, took about two hours. The amount of action on the street is incredible: tap-taps and motos weave their way around each other in constant near-catastrophe; men and women, well-dressed and shabby alike, line the sides of the road; endless vendors sell mangos and lottery tickets; lines build up at the gas stations due to the current gas shortage.
Sunday, April 14. By now I’ve met the other BGF field managers in Haiti, Ethan, Michael, and Mary. We inventory the lumber for the “kays” (houses) I’ll be building, and begin to organize the tools and hardware in the warehouse as well. We’re all staying at Delaney Bay, a volunteer compound in Léogâne that during the week houses a clinic as well.
In the mid-afternoon, we head to one of the strangest events I’ve ever been to my life. It’s a surprise Haitian baby shower, organized by the American father. It’s a surprise because the Haitian mother doesn’t know about it, and because Haitians don’t really have baby showers, preferring to celebrate after the baby is born. There are awkward speeches, followed by awkward singing and dancing and an awkward dinner.
Monday, April 15. Today is my first “work day” and I ride with Ethan and Mary up to the CODEP Depot, one of the four main BGF projects going on in the country this spring. It’s dug into the back of a steep hillside off of the main road; when finished, it will house the agricultural products of CODEP before they make their way to market. We do three or four hours of building, then return to Léogâne to continue organizing the warehouse. I have a few conversations in Kreyòl and am able to keep up by abandoning all attempts to speak correctly and contenting myself with getting my point across. Everyone seems reasonably willing to put up with this.
(pictures to come when my Internet connection allows)