Each day in Haiti was pretty much the same for us. Wait for rides, people waiting for the clinic, long, hot, dry days. But each day there was also a new adventure.
Like the outhouse. Up the hill from the church it didn’t look (or smell) too badly from a distance. But up close — watch out! Unable to last all afternoon, Gail decided to brave it, and could barely get in the door. Lisa gave it a shot on Thursday and it took just about everything she had to endure the “squat pot.” And that was before Quinton told us that he had gone up with a flashlight to look in the hole, and saw tarantulas crawling around in there. After that,
many decided it would be better to use the bushes around back. Safer — unless, like Jesse, you forgot to check for cactus.
The first few days, we got no lunch and there were few if any drinks brought in for us. Finally, we worked that out, but then faced another dilemma. How do you drink a soda or eat a sandwich in front of all these people who have so little to eat? Most of us felt like we had to take a swig or bite in hiding, because we couldn’t bear to do it with all those eyes on us.
I asked one of our translators, Jean Enock, what he and his family usually ate when not helping out at the clinic. He told us he usually ate one meal a day, typically some rice and beans. That’s all. Known as Enock, he was in Port-au-Prince during the earthquake. He was taking a bath in his home when the tremors started, and he jumped out of the tub and ran outside naked before he pulled on a pair of shorts. I can’t imagine what kind of terror and panic there must have been that day. But that’s not the worst. Later that day, a wall fell on his father, killing him. Enock now helps care for his family, some of whom live in a tent next to the rubble that used to be his house. He was one of the most pleasant, helpful, thoughtful and easy-going people we met there.
When we were at the hotel, we were introduced to another unexpected bathroom custom. Even though we had flush toilets, you weren’t supposed to flush your toilet paper. You put it into a can next to the toilet, and they would empty it each day. If you remembered to give them your key in the morning so the housekeepers could get in there.
On Thursday, we discovered that the fish at the restaurant, red snapper, was pretty good and a good supper option. That day, a translator caught up with me and said a mother and her son wanted prayer. I later learned that the boy may have had leprosy, an ailment even the doctor hadn’t seen before. Another lady told her translator she wanted private confession, but then backed out before I had a chance to speak with her. Friday was the day we gave out lots and lots of toys, so much so that it looked like a carnival, everyone walking around holding large stuffed animals.