Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Fishing boats on the beach at Jacmel, Haiti.

I'm feeling energized and focused after my trip.  As I expected, being in a relatively wild and wooly place shook me up in a good way.  There was something in me that wanted to let go of the work world and surrender to the creative life, whether or not there was money in it for me.  Spending a little time in a place with bad water, bad roads, bad power and very little order was a bit of the hair-of-the-dog cure.

That said, it was also very good to be closer to nature.  To hear the sea washing upon the rocks day and night.  To eat fruit that fell out of the trees.  To hang out with goats.  (I always like goats.)

This is an awfully sweet picture.  I hope you'll forgive me for that.  These are actually working fishemen's rowboats.  The fishing industry in Jacmel is currently at the biblical level.

Monday, April 25, 2011

If The Shoe Fits

I suspect I've been having a bandwidth problem. I've been in Haiti for two weeks, tapped into the the humanitarian organization network, witnessing some fascinating things -- and finding myself saying very little about it publicly.

Why not? Partly because I've often been exhausted with the work of witnessing and experiencing. Reporting back is second in priority, by quite a distance. But most of what has held me back has been the weight of perceived responsibility. All these great people who want so much. All this land that begs for healing. All these questions about development, obligation, blame, solutions, forgiveness. What can little ol' mwe say about it?

I can say a lot, but it will take time before those thoughts are ready to flow. For now, I can say smaller things. I should. I will. Today, I am. Here is a big piled-up fisherman's net that was on the beach where my host, Emmet Murphy, and I went swimming with friends yesterday, Easter Sunday. Fishing is relatively simple here. Most of the boats I've seen are rowboats. Two fishermen row out in the morning; they tend their nets, they return when they return. Simple. Charming, in a way. Notice the floats on this net are made from cut up pieces of flip-flops.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Time to Think?

There's so much to say about Haiti that I'm almost blocked. Please bear with me. Poverty, anger, disease, more poverty, and a snapshot of the disaster that 21st Century economics brings down on the poor countries. Part of the game is keeping one's sanity. I'm nowhere near losing it, but I can tell when it's time to just be still and digest. I took the day off today to hang by the pool and rest. Might do it again tomorrow, we'll see. The weather is warm and sunny. A couple of days of this couldn't hurt. Thank you for your patience.

Jacmel - Thiotte

This is the main drag in the southeast of Haiti. You can tell there once was a decent road here, by the curbs that remain.

"Psalm 121" is what is written on the side of the cargo truck. That psalm reads:

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I love a place where people decorate things.  The cargo trucks in Haiti are works of art.  They are also Bible lessons. Exodus 14:14, in this case: "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bet Mechan

By the pool again. It’s beginning to feel normal. The fabulosity is wearing off. Being by the pool overlooking the sea is now merely great.

Miles Davis, Bitches Brew flowing from the laptop in front of me. Bugs are ringing in the trees. And chirping, too.

I sleep under a mosquito net, but it does not reach the floor. It’s like a mosquito jellyfish. I have strange dreams every night. Tropical places will mess with your sleep. I don’t love that, but I love how tropical places mess with your dreams.

Last night I woke up at four AM and the rain had stopped. I stepped out onto the patio and the milky way was high in the sky and dusty.

It feels to me as if each day is warmer than the last, by one degree. One degree C. There are two air conditioners in the conference room where we have our classes. I turn off one, and set the other for 28 degrees. Work is satisfying and tiring in a good way. The fact that my students here at ACDI/VOCA are so good makes it possible to teach so many consecutive hours. They are motivated to help their Haitian charges, and I’m motivated to help them help them.

Today I reached into my bag, and something grabbed my finger. It felt like a bug. It was a centipede. I got out of the car, and with the help of my driver and a nearby security guard, we emptied my bag and got the poor fellow out of there. I feel bad, because as it was scurrying around on the sidewalk, it headed back for my bag, and I scraped it away with the side of my shoe and wounded it, probably fatally. I brought it home in a jar and now it is slowly dying under the lid of a pyrex baking dish.

I want to write more, but I also want to read more. This weekend I’ll so a good deal of both. Maybe post a video or two.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

La Destinée

Port au Prince, Haiti
April, 2011

How can it be five years since I've traveled abroad? (Not counting that trip to Juarez.) It feels so familiar to be here, though I've never been here before. A different insanity from the one in the US, the near constant smell of things burning, roosters at 3:30 AM, being so obviously a stranger no matter where I go. I love it. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't matter.