Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thank God for Oceanography.

... the class, that is. But I'll get to that in a bit.

Today was very full. I actually did quite a bit of work today so I was very happy about that. I've been feeling somewhat un-useful these past few days and it was good to finally get some "assignments" that I could really fully take on and complete... and complete well.

But I suppose I should start with first things first. I was given my list of tasks this morning but the first thing to get done was going on a shopping trip with Belorne. Belorne is also partially in charge of the Guest House in similar but different ways as Donette. Belorne's husband is also a district superintendent. She is a very joyful, happy person most of the time and such a blessing. Every time you see her, you can't help but smile!

This is all to say that I was very excited. I was happy to be spending time with Belorne and I was excited to see what a Haitian supermarket might look like. First, though, we had to stop at the gas station to get some new Culligan water jugs. It was a Texaco station up the street and whoa... that was a culture shock for me. Mostly because of one thing: they had two armed men guarding it. I thought that was nuts! It's just a gas station! Nothing to shoot people over! But then I realized that in the midst of such desperation in Haiti it might be necessary to have armed guards for security purposes. They may never shoot anyone (God willing) but it's more to be menacing enough so there is no trouble. Still, seemed very strange to me through my American eyes.

After getting the water, we went to the supermarket. It was like a mini UN in there. This particular supermarket sold MANY international products so people from all over were in there and there was very few Haitians. (Although, there were some.) I was actually shocked at some of the products they had in there. They had Dr. Pepper, Popsecret butter popcorn, and M&Ms. I almost bought all of those to have an impromptu movie night in my room. But I resisted. Seriously, though, this is the first foreign country I have ever been in that has sold Dr. Pepper! Although I did think it was hilarious that none of my Haitian friends associated with the Guest House had any idea what it was. I'm guessing it's in the Supermarket mostly for the American folks in Haiti right now.

After that, Belorne did some shopping on the street for things like rice and eggs that are much cheaper from street vendors than in the supermarkets. I stayed in the car while she shopped for those and I made some observations. First of all, the driving here is seriously NUTS. I mean, I already knew that, but having the chance to sit and observe it for a length of time... it's crazy. Hal describes it as a "constant negotiation between drivers... and vehicles have the right of way. There is no negotiation with the pedestrians. They better get out of the way... or else." This is so true. So so true. I actually saw my first wreck today and realized that I had no idea if anyone in Haiti had driving insurance or not. I'm guessing not because the cars just drove away from each other without anyone getting out of the vehicles to asses the damage and exchange claim numbers. Totally weird. I mean, they argued with each other for a bit, but then they realized they were blocking traffic and decided to stop. Very strange. Also strange is that I saw a few non-Haitians driving today. I was SHOCKED. How on earth are they driving here? How on earth does any non-Haitian know how to drive here? Although apparently, according to one of the drivers for the Guest House - Daniel - the traffic got much worse after the earthquake hit.

I also noticed that women (and some men, for that matter) carry a ridiculous amount of stuff on their heads. Yeah. It's insane. For example, I saw a woman carry a basket on it's side on her head... full of pineapples. She had one hand in the air to steady it if it began to slip... but it was staying up there even as she walked fairly briskly down the street. I was super impressed. I also saw laundry baskets on heads, baskets full of bottled sodas on heads, and much, much more. It's quite a sight... I'll post pictures tomorrow when the internet might be a bit faster.

After shopping, though, we returned to the Guest House and I got to work. I researched hurricane wind speeds for Hal as he's determining what wind speeds the transitional shelters need to be built to withstand. Very interesting stuff. Most interesting to me, though, was that the main issue with hurricanes in Haiti is not wind speeds but excessive rain that creates huge mudslides. I read some crazy, crazy things today. I'll say that much.

I also created a spreadsheet of a tool inventory for all the tools UMVIM has received here in Haiti to let groups use when they come. Hopefully we'll be able to spread out the tools appropriately so they can be used effectively.

It also rained a TON in Haiti today and many of the groups reported hitting terrible traffic. As Haiti is so hilly and there aren't good sewage/gutter systems in Haiti the streets essentially turn into rivers. One of the groups apparently had to take back roads to get back to the Guest House at times because the main roads had too much water they might have been swept away.

Anyway, that's about all I have to report. I'm still working on my Kreyol so I might write some new words/phrases to teach you all here tomorrow. Jammes gives me new words to learn every day so I'm progressing slowly but surely.

Oh, and one last thing. Eric, who is the head of the drivers at the Guest House, reported that his father passed away today. He has been ill for a very long time but he is now rejoicing in heaven. If you could say a little prayer for Eric and his family tonight, that would be wonderful. :)

I hope you all are well! Praying for God to bless all of you!



  1. I love reading your blog, as you know. But you never did really explain why you thank God for oceanograpy.

  2. Oh! Hahaha, that's true! Mostly I was just glad that I had taken the class in college because I could just read some of the official hurricane reports and gather information that way instead of reading summaries. It was sweet. And much faster!


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