West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Sienna at the beach

Hello!! I’m so sorry I missed so many days. The beach had no internet, then when we came home the internet was busted. I meant to catch up this afternoon but instead spent a frustrating two hours completing an alcohol edu thing for school. Anyway…(just so you know this keyboard has no enter key. So one big wall of text for you guys. Enjoy) I left off at the beach. The night before we left Shelley mentioned that she would love to leave around seven, but realistically we probably couldn’t get out the door until eight, just know that fifteen people and their stuff and food would have to be packed up first. The three youngest and most impatient children on the trip were sitting in the back of the pickup asking “when are we leaving?” way before the adults had finished packing, unpacking, and repacking the four coolers full of food several times. I could include many details of our long battle to get out the door, but just know that all fifteen of us, our backpacks containing 3 days’ clothes, and enough food for all of us for three days all drove to Zanglais in one medium sized pickup truck. The bed of the truck had a layer of all the backpacks, then we sat on top. Nine of us, anyway. Did I mention this was a five hour drive? Every few minutes water, bread, and fried plaintains were passed back through a window. It was nice for about 90 minutes…after that I tried to pretend I didn’t exist.

But man oh man was it worth the permanent damage to our tailbones. We stayed in a house at the top of a hill overlooking the shore. It was probably 20 degrees cooler than Port au Prince and gorgeous…trees and grass (grass in Haiti!) When we first walked down to the beach I was surprised to hear a BLEH-H-H-H coming from some disgruntled goats who didn’t like having to share their beach with us. The sand there is darker than most beaches, but fine and soft and free of shells and rocks. I spent most of my time in Zanglais at the beach (gee, really?) On our second morning there we saw several boys pulling in a fishing net. It took them forever, I mean hours. They were reeling in more and more and more rope for the entire morning. Gradually more people came to help them pull in an endless amount of rope. It wasn’t until the afternoon that they finally pulled their net in, which had 300-400 sizable fish in it, including a swordfish!

The boys’ (and I mean the Tlucek boys: Dom who is eight, Ben and Joe who are ten, and a friend Jeff who is fourteen. Oh and their 12 year old sister Katie) favorite activity is bogey boarding on the waves. I was their chaperone for most of the time because the adults wanted some quiet time. So I jumped over waves, or sometimes they jumped over me.

So the beach wasn’t EVENTFUL, really, but it was marvelous. I forgot to tell you how my face was black with dirt and sweat and sunscreen and bugspray after the car ride and I was STILL burned to a crisp, but I photographed it and will let the world know later.

Friday, the day after we went to the beach, I got to go to St. Vincent’s at last. It was bittersweet because it was only a one day visit, and usually I get to spend several days there. But I was very grateful to be able to visit at all. Pere Sadoni (the director, and my mom and I’s friend) told me that it was the last day of a camp for the deaf kids that some Americans had organized. Marvelous! I was very excited to talk to them about how it went, which activites they had planned, how they organized the program, but my lack of knowledge of sign language caught up with me again: the Americans were deaf. They read lips pretty well but I didn’t pursue a lengthy conversation. I spent most of the day playing the violin for anyone who cared to listen. My friend Mackenson, who plays guitar, had an essential elements book one with a lot of easy treble clef stuff in it, so we played several songs together for a few hours; it was great. I talked to Clauricianne for an hour or so, a much needed practice session for my creole. Frenel told me that he has la grippe, something I feel like I recall him saying last time also…

Pere Sadoni took me out to lunch at the Plaza hotel, a place I’ve never been before, but my mom and her medical team are planning to stay there in November. It was truly luxurious: indoors, so many fans it felt like air conditioning, real paper menus instead of handwritten posterboard scrawl, and soda. With ice. To die for.

When I returned to the school in the afternoon, after a few more hours of music and catching up with Clauricianne and Mackenson, the Americans had a party for the deaf kids. It was quite a feast: every kid and parent or guest got a full meal with rice and beans, chicken, potato salad, lasagna, and noodles, and a drink of choice, and a generous slice of cake. The volunteers who had run the camp said a few words; the one American who wasn’t deaf told the deaf American, in English, what he wanted her to say. She signed it to the group, then Pere Sadoni translated her sign into Creole for the non deaf guests. So english to sign to creole. It was very St. Vincent’s. I was sad to leave but so grateful that I had been able to visit my friends at the school, even if just for one day.

Finally caught up to today, Saturday! Slept in again, this time until eight (I really am getting atrociously lazy). The Tluceks have a new building that they want to get ready so that some of the Haitian children that are living in their house can live in the new childrens’ home instead, get some good structure, and hopefully give the Tluceks a little more peace (ha, ha). So today we cleaned. We went through bins, boxes, and duffel bags. We sorted, folded, and threw out a ton of stuff. Shelley hires a staff to help her clean and organize the house, except much of the time that staff apparently crams things into boxes and hides them in a corner to get them out of the way, hoping Shelley won’t notice. That’s how the Tluceks got their growing corners filled with mystery items: bags and bags of huge bolts of fabric, missing drills, rosters from camp, music books, coloring books, science books, beads, did I mention TONS of fabric?? I also went through hundreds of bathing suits today and carefully arranged them according to gender and size before cramming them back into a bin again. I also offered to make curtains for the new childrens’ home, with assistance…let’s hope that goes well tomorrow.

In the midst of writing this note I had to stop and kneel by the two little girls sleeping on the floor of my room and try to coax them to sleep with some hymns, which did NOT work so I uprooted myself and the borrowed computer into the foyer in the hopes that the darker lighting would get them to sleep. Of course at this point I still haven’t taken my shower, so I’ll have to either turn the light on in there and risk waking them up or search for my clothes and soap in the dark, which is what I’ll likely do…

Last fun tidbit of the evening. I cut up mangoes for dinner tonight…MAN is that a sticky, messy job. Mango up to my elbows. The front of my shirt is still COVERED in the stringy yellow stuff. I tried to take a picture but it looked like a myspace angle shot, so just use your imagination.

When I am doing something here in Haiti I imagine ways to get various friends involved. I just want to include everyone so they can enjoy it as much as I do. I think, I could think up some prograo do with this, and get this person to help…Or, wouldn’t she be good at this? This person would love playing with the baby, Onaldia. This person could pick up Creole really well. This person could cook for the whole house. May sound strange, but I miss you guys and think of you constantly!! Careful, I may try to drag you down here with me next time.

P.S. during closing prayer after dinner the baby started banging a pot on the floor, lol

sent in by Sienna Nelson

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