Despite much anxiety the flight(s) yesterday were completely smooth. My bag was right there at the baggage claim, and Shelley, the lady whose family I’m staying with, was right outside the airport exit to pick me up.
The Tlucek house is a little crazy. There are Shelley and Byron, the couple who run the house, and their six children. There are also two sisters, a one year old and five year old, who arrived just yesterday too. Then there are four other boys…one five year old and three teenagers. Plus the group of thirteen people that has been here for a week already, and two teenage girls who work and live in the house also. Plus at least two local friends who are visiting. Oh and I forgot two other volunteers who have been here all summer, and another girl who just arrived on Tuesday…yeah… last night we had 38 people for dinner! and apparently the week before I came it was 48. Keep in mind this house is about the size of mine.
I just missed English camp, a six week program where they had 250 kids here every day! The people here are exhausted. I wanted to find a way to be helpful so when I woke up this morning I washed dishes for what seemed like four hours. I did all the dishes from dinner the night before, and then we had lunch and I did those dishes too. But every time I walk in the kitchen the sink is still piled high!We went to a metal works village today, which is not actually a village but a gated area with about 20 shops full of handmade metal pieces. I was glad to hear we were going somewhere because I was eager to get out and see the city but I didn’t think I would be too impressed by the things I saw or want to buy anything, because I’d seen a lot of this stuff before in the cathedral giftshop and street vendors’ wares. But I was amazed. The first room I walked into, all four walls were completely covered in metal arkwork: trees, lizards, mermaids, suns, animals, everything. Some were purely decorative but some had hooks for hanging stuff, or mirrors, which I fell in love with. I walked into every shop looking at the different mirrors: circular, rectangular, heart shaped, with birds on the border or palm trees or sun rays. Small mirrors, HUGE mirrors (which I loved but no way I could fit in a suitcase), everything imaginable. I was really annoyed that I had only brought twenty bucks with me. But I got a wonderful chance to practice my Creole and another important Haitian skill: bargaining. I never had to make an offer; I just squinted and said Map panse, I’m thinking. The average asking price I got was about 25. I told all the shopowners I might come back later in the week. I didn’t get a mirror, but on the way out I did spot a big sun with swirls for rays that I got for fifteen bucks, which the veteran hagglers congratulated me on.Tomorrow morning the group of thirteen is leaving, so it will be a little quieter around here (but not too much). The day after tomorrow we are going to the beach for three days, which I didn’t even know about! I’m so excited, the only Haitian beach I’ve been to was fabulous. So I’m not industriously building houses or checking blood pressure…I’ll just say that I’m learning more about the country. By going to the beach.
Ach I know I’m writing too much but there is so much to say! Funny story…last night I wanted to take my shower so I went into the room I’m sharing with another girl named Grace to get my clothes and soap, etc. But I walked in to find the two sisters passed out on the floor. This is the one and five year old, and because it was there first night sleeping in the Tlucek house, I had been warned not to wake them up. So I couldn’t turn the light on, but it was pitch black in my room, plus the combination of fans, cords, bunk beds, and suitcases made walking really difficult. Once I finally got to the shower, the bathroom was tiny. Absolutely miniscule. The whole bathroom was not wide enough for my wingspan, and the shower itself was maybe half the size – maybe – of your average bathroom stall. And you have to climb over the toilet to get into the shower. It was a little difficult.I could tell more stories about navigating my bedroom in the dark without stepping on children but since I’ve already written a novella I will stop here…or not because I have to talk about how much I miss my friends and family. It didn’t hit me until I got here that I’m leaving them for real.