Tuesday, September 21, 2010

sa ka pase

Today I woke up to a deluge of water. Actually, I went to sleep to one as well. The room I have been staying in is at the end of a row of rooms and as the end room one wall is the outside wall. There is basically no wall under the eaves of the roof until about a quarter of the way down, so plenty of water just pours in. Might open a tourist attraction to see the waterfall pouring down into my cowboy boots. A new roadside attraction! Me under my mosquito net with an led flashlight will entertain you further with shadow puppetry.

I went to tell the lady, the manman, that the dlo was coming in. I first consulted my creole book to see how to say it. la pli a ap vini nan chanm mwen. i said it a few times to get used to the sound and went to talk to her. Manman means Mom in Creole. Man man. Kind of like kava kava or tap tap. Man man! When I told her about it, she just said "un plus?" which means basically "alot?" and I said "wee" and thought something would happen, but she sent a dude to walk over and look at it, when we got in the room he was staring at the ceiling in the middle ignoring the torrent on the side. He then went outside and climbed up in the tree and waved the branches around a bit and then went back up to the front house to watch rap videos.

After a while, nothing else happened, so I looked into my book again to figure out how to ask for a different room. So I went and asked and they understood me and I got a new room.
I spent a bunch of time working on my budget and then we were supposed to go to complex bamboo to talk about getting beds made. I tried to shut my door but then it fell off its hinges.
The Manman and the Man were both gone for the day by then and I wanted to lock my door so I started to try to fix it myself. The wood was completely rotten, so there was nothing for the screws to hold on to. I managed to pound some nails into the wood using bottle caps as washers. It sort of closes now.

While I was working on my budget, Benoit was hanging out with me trying to sew patches on his jeans. The maid came and the little girl, the daughter of the manman. The maid girl really believes I am some sort of mail order catalog, I swear. Every day she is asking me for things. Yesterday she said to me "Lopi, give me the money" "The Money" Not "money"
Today she asked me for a bathing suit and some new jeans. I asked her if I am a mail order catalog. She said "oui" and I said to her "where is the money? Give me the money"
I tried to explain to her what she didn't bother asking me, which is why I am in Haiti.
Benoit helped with the translation. He is French so has an advantage with the language.
She didn't really get it, I dont think. I am sure tomorrow she is going to ask me for a Porsche or a pony or something. Maybe she will ask me for a unicorn.

We went and spoke with one of the craftsmen at Complex Bamboo. It's way more complicated than I thought it would be. My only question is when will my persistent belief that things are going to be easy die? When will the reality of making stuff happen in Haiti sink into my psyche further? I am still in a fantasy land, apparently. I dont have that much out of common with the maid girl after all. It is going to take awhile to set up bamboo bed production. I believe I can though. There is a warehouse where some craftsmen make bamboo furniture. It is owned by the govt, they take a percentage of the workers commission for allowing them to use the space. I am going to go speak with the minister tomorrow to see if they can donate the space to start making bamboo beds for orphanages...

If I can get it set up, many many beds could be produced. At the same time as making nice beds for kids, we could be giving good work for the craftsmen and creating demand for more bamboo to be grown in Haiti. All good. I think I can get this set up and then head back to Brooklyn. It will take about a month to have about twenty bunk beds made. I think they will be a good price, like around $35 bucks American per which is a whole hell of alot cheaper than the metal beds in carrefour. If I go back up to BK I can get access to "the money" and then come back down in a month to deliver beds. Nothing is instantaneous and although they need beds NOW, I am sure they will still need them then. Necessity is the manman of invention.

The two orphanages Dave took me to the other day need beds. Especially the one, poorer of the two places. It was pretty destitute, but at least with Dave's help they have a supply of food. The kids were really dirty but one of them was painting, I assume because he had paint all over his arms. The other place is the orphanage for kids with Aids and it is pretty well set up. It looks nice, its clean, there are already a bunch of beds and three nannies full time. I will help the needy one. I want to have a larger impact. I want to do so much more than I can with limited funds and limited time. There is also the problem of my own sustainability. I am sure all of this can be solved. Time. Patience has never been my strong suit. It's getting stronger though. My patience muscles are sore so that means they are getting bigger. Soon they will be huge and I will be like Buddha. Laughing all the time and dancing.

Last night I went back to this place in town by the beach where they have a big trailer set up for dj's on the weekend. This place makes great, clean food. By "clean" I mean it isnt fried and it isn't cooked in meat. It's boiled yams, bananas and avocado salad. I love it. When I got there it looked closed. Monday night is not hopping there. The chairs were wearily leaning against the tables. I went around to the side where the kitchen is and greeted the ladies. They were so nice to me. The manman there remembered me from the night before when I was trying so hard to say salt. "Sal" i kept saying, she kept saying "sauce?" i was like, no "sal"but I found out that salt is actually "sel" which is only one vowel off from what i was saying.

One vowel can ruin your whole day if you let it. Ask Vanna White.

I got a delicious meal, her kids sat with me and we communicated the best we could. I showed them my little water color and the boy, Peter was really entranced by it. He stared at it and it was like his eyes were caressing it. I drew a picture of him in red pen on my pad. He liked it, but said "pa senblan mwe" which is "it doesnt look like me" I agreed. I gave him the pad to draw on and he made two drawings of people with funny arms. One had a giant bowl of fruit on their head. He wrote by it "Pilo" and "Peter" He thought my name was Pilo, which is fine with me, I like Pilo. Maybe I should change my name again, it's been 20 years at least with Lopi.

I also went off the vegetarian wagon because I tried conch. It's called Lambi here. Oh my god it's delicious! It tastes like gourmet mushrooms.

I will call Zaka tomorrow and ask him to show me the third orphanage. I am all about wrapping this stuff up so I can return to the states. I love Haiti, but I really am beginning to think I will never get out of here. It's like trying to swim in quicksand all up in this piece. It's surreal at times. Today walking up the road in the rain the neighbor girl walked with me. She had a giant metal bowl on her head full of green bananas and a giant leaf from a palm as her umbrella. I walked with her and was washed over with this feeling of being in a dream world.

My old life was a frantic running from silence. The speechless full moon comes out now. (rumi)

thanks for reading me. for now, photos are a no go. comments are appreciated!!
My phone number in Haiti is 509 3110 7529
would love to hear from anyone out there reading this glob

1 comment:

  1. Keep it up for Pete's sake... It's history in the making. Hope you are saving it somewhere in case your computer goes insane and can't remember anything (like me).
    Went to a crazy word writing workshop this past weekend, and one excercise had us doing a 10 minute blog using only three-word sentences. Not two, or more than three... Just three. Try it for fun in your blog. It's hard.
    I love you.
    Keep it up.
    Bamboo is good.
    Beds are good.
    Come home soon?
    where is home?
    I don't know.
    I'm going nuts.
    I'm already nuts.
    Good Night Irene.
    Old Uncle Sam.