West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

The team takes a break

Today in Haiti is a national holiday, commemorating the death of Jean Jacques Dessalines.  He and Touissant L’Overture together led the slave rebellion against the French, and declared independence on Jan 1, 1804.  Haiti is the only country in the western hemisphere to ever have successfully staged a slave rebellion.

With the national holiday, there was no school, so we hired our favorite driver Jonas and went to Kaliko Beach Resort.  
Fabulous Caribbean beach with blue sky, perfectly clear water and plenty of rum punch.  The kids (Ashley, James, Bailey, Sienna and Brittany – who has her Pharm D but is definitely in the “younger crowd” ) pulled their plastic chairs down to the water’s edge and proceeded to become quite sunburned, of course.  They also went hunting for conch shells and found several beautiful ones.  The “old folks” (myself, Edie, Vicky, Sherye, Linda and John) sat in the shade and enjoyed our own rum flavored drinks, while predicting the degree of sunburn the younger crowd would suffer.  Emily and Gordon, being somewhat between the two age groups, wandered between the two, Gordon taking more photos and Emily getting a pretty serious sunburn before retiring to the shade with the rest of us.

 Buffet lunch followed, with delicious fish, picliz, fresh mango, steamed vegetables, and even flan for dessert.  Vicky observed that this resort would make a great vacation spot for anyone.  

Back on the bus, Sienna convinced the driver to take us up the mountain so we could get a view of Port au Prince and also see more of the city.  Up we went, on some surprisingly well paved roads, to a hotel at the top of the mountain called L’Observatoire, which has a patio that looks out over the entire city.  The air temperature is easily 10 degrees cooler up there, and we could see the air port in the center of the city, also a single 10 story building (later we were told this is a Digicel building) and the rest which were all one to two story concrete blocks, many painted in pastel colors.  The effect of all these houses layered on top of each other, covering the mountainside, is that of a mosaic with orange, pink, and yellow blocks. 

The team was pleased to see all of it, from the beach resort to the crazy quilt of houses piled on top of each other up the mountainside, to the very elegant hotel at the top of the mountain. “A city of contrasts”, one team member said.  I am happy to see they are falling in love with this country as I have.  I am sure at least one person is not too happy about the heat, but otherwise I think she sees the beauty in the people here and the hope that we discover when we work here. 

The kids brought some of their conch shells back as souvenirs for Emily B, who stayed behind at the guest house today to catch up on some of her medical school lectures.  She looked rested and refreshed when we returned, which is a good thing because she has been studying very hard all week and trying to keep up with her school work, despite working at St Vincent’s every day.

Tomorrow is our last day with the kids; it will be hard to say good bye as always. 

Susan Nelson
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