Today was a very interesting day. Very interesting indeed.
This morning I loaded into the van with Mike, Oge (pronounced OJ... a driver for the Guest House,) and a group of four and headed for a town called Millier. (Pronounced Mill-yea) On our way to Millier, though, we stopped in a town called Carrefour (Kah-foo) and picked up the head cook and assistant cooks for the group working in Millier this week. It was a packed van with the luggage and the ten of us but I suppose that is the Haitian way.
Between Carrefour and Millier, though, is where the epicenter of the earthquake was. It was amazing driving through some areas and seeing literally every single building absolutely damaged. Also crazy was the cracks in the road where you see the earth shifted. Another heartbreaking scene was seeing refugee tents set up in the median on the road in one part of town. Yeah, the MEDIAN. The structures were very small and thrown together with pieces of wood, tin, and tarps. In fact, they were so small that we saw a shirtless woman bathing herself by the side of the road today, probably right outside her "home." How sad to be so cramped in your living space to have to bathe yourself in public. :( And the saddest part was seeing these areas that looked like huge cities based on the amount of buildings... and seeing very few people compared to other cities that size. I imagine many perished in those areas. Neighbors, family, friends.
Honestly, I've seen all the pictures and even driving around town you get kind of desensitized by it. But today, while we were driving through that area, it was all I could do to hold back tears. Photos cannot fully explain the damage this earthquake did - to the buildings, to the people, and to the Haitian way of life. Absolutely heartbreaking stuff. Please continue to pray for and send aid to the people of Haiti! The need is still very great.
When we finally arrived in Millier, though, we were greeted by some Haitians of the community who helped to unload the van. After unloading everything, we realized that we had not stopped at the grocery store on the way to Millier and the team still needed some bread. We asked Deena, the head cook, where to get the bread and she told us there was a bakery within walking distance that we could travel to.
So Mike, Oge, Deena, and I hiked through the Millier trails to the Millier bakery. It was amazing! It was right in the middle of nowhere (or at least, it seemed that way) and the inside reminded me of an Amish bakery almost with the tools they were using and such to make the bread. We did get a taste of the bread before bringing it to the group, though, and it was DELICIOUS. Very, very good bread. It was just a fun little excursion. However, it was hot and I had worn long pants and a long sleeved shirt to help ward off the mosquitoes because I heard they were heavy in that area. Oge kept on saying, "Beth, are you okay?" I would say, "Yes... are you okay?" And one time he responded with, "I'm cool." I asked him what his secret was to being cool... he wouldn't tell me.
After that, we said our goodbyes in Millier and headed back to the city. We went by the Presidential Palace to see if the National Museum was open but we found out it wasn't. I still haven't driven in front of the Presidential Palace, but the damage around that area was severe. The tent cities in those areas were insane. They were all over the place. In one area, there were tents set up on the sidewalks and vendors selling things in front of the tents. We also saw one demonstration march down a hill towards the Palace.
We made two quick stops at a paint shop and an tool store and then came back to the Guest House for the rest of the day around 2 p.m. When we arrived, Jammes was in the office and he once again helped me with my Kreyol. I'm really taking to it much more than I thought I would. I still can't remember the right words for things right off the top of my head... but I do understand most of the words I've learned when people use it in conversation which is fun for me. In the process of helping me, though, Jammes mentioned that he was watching the Lakers today. I found out that he's a big Lakers fan. I told him my brother was a big Lakers fan, too, and he got very excited. He asked if I was a Lakers fan and I said, "I don't really have a favorite team... but I do know that the Lakers are good!" He laughed at that. Jammes is always a bright spot in my day and so it was good to see him and talk with him a bit this afternoon.
One last thing. Today while we were driving from Millier, Oge had the radio on and I heard the song "Wavin' Flag" in Kreyol twice. "Wavin Flag" was the song the Canadians did as a benefit for Haiti... much like we did "We Are the World." However, "Wavin Flag" is much better and much more uplifting. It was very cool to me that the song has become so popular in Haiti and almost seems to be the anthem of the country right now. "When I am older, I will be stronger, They'll call me freedom, Just like a wavin flag." Although, Haiti has gone through so much and continues to go through so much, there is hope. There is great hope that the future will be better, that Haiti will be stronger. Even on nights like these, when there is much rain, and many families - some just a few feet away from my comfortable room and bed - are living in tents with dirt floors... there is hope. There is great, great hope.
God is good.
Map of Haiti: http://www.nationsonline.org/maps/haiti_map.jpg I went to Carrefour today and Millier is between Carrefour and Gressier. On Sunday I went to Arcahaie.
Photos of the day to be found here (on the page 2) and here.