Yesterday was my first solo errand run in St. Marc. When I say solo I mean that Chris wasn’t there and I had to do all the driving/talking/finding/buying. When he asked me if I would go in and take care of everything so he could stay home and work on the Volkswagen I was a bit hesitant, but yesterday morning knew I needed to go. I needed to do it because there were just things that needed to get done, but I also needed to do it for me.
Next week starts us on two full weeks of training classes so we this week is prep time. Tomorrow and Thursday are also major holidays, with the possibility of Friday being taken too. Whenever there’s a holiday in Haiti the country basically shuts down. None of this time-and-a-half for working a stat day. This makes it challenging to do any sort of business. You basically can’t, so you have to think ahead and get everything done before. This means Chris needs to be in Port today to do Port things, and I have no vehicle. It was yesterday or nothing.
Diana, a trainer from CAWST and friend, is here and our friend Barb just needed to get out of her house/school/community for a while yesterday. So the three of us ladies hopped in the truck and made our way to St. Marc. On my list of things to do were banking, dropping off Rotary paperwork, buying chicken (in the BIG box), trying to buy a used water cooler, buying sacks of rice and beans, looking for a juicer, and getting 26 200+ page manuals photocopied for the class.
Banking, paperwork, rice…no problem. Water cooler, beans, juicer…nope, but that’s okay. Photocopying. Hmmm. We started by dropping it off at one “shop” which is actually the front gallery/patio area of a retail business where there’s a plug in and power. Basically plop a copier on the front steps of your house and you’ve got a copy shop. After Diana and I explained what we needed we were told to come back in about an hour. So we went and did some more errands, then came back. Another hour. Time for a shake shop visit where we could sit and watch the goings on of St. Marc without being harassed much. Another visit and it still wasn’t ready. My gut said to leave some of the remaining stuff and take the rest to other places. Diana and I divided the pile and I took some to one shop (aka a cargo container with steps) and she took the rest to patio copy shop #2 that just happened to be on the patio of the shake shop we were at before. So we sat. We visited. We drank cold Pepsi.
After a while I walked to patio shop #1. Preske fini. Almost finished. Cargo copier. Preske fini – bezwen trent minut. Almost finished – need 30 minutes. Back to the shake shop where we were actually impressed by the level of service we were receiving. They were making 26 piles and putting all the pages in order as they came off the machine. Barb eventually decided to catch a tap tap back to our place to get her scooter and head home before dark. Diana and I sat. We visited with each other and some locals. My favorite was the group of school kids. The one cheeky boy in the group that did the “give me a dollar” open hand thing got the response of “What, you can’t say, “Hello Madame, how are you?” This got me into a conversation with all of them where they told me what they did in school that day. By the time they left they were all giggling and laughing. It was pretty fun.
Eventually it started getting dark and part of me was getting worried. I went to go check on cargo copier, who happened to be finished. I paid my bill and as he was writing a receipt the man from patio #1 came along to get a receipt, for me, because cargo copier owned both places. So I paid bill number two and had a hand to the shake shop with cargo copier copies from patio #1 man. Two down, one to go. Eventually patio #2 were done, everything was checked and organized and it was time to pay. I was $100 short. Thankfully the guys there were entertained by this and very kind. We offered to leave some of the copies and have someone return in the morning with the balance of the bill but they told me to take everything and send someone with the money. After we got everything loaded up Diana and I made our way back home, her buried under boxes of paper.
As I was walking around St. Marc checking on my copies I realized that for the first time I wasn’t feeling afraid. It was different and refreshing. I was able to do all of the errands that I needed to and not have any problems. I could tell people for the most part what I needed and what I was looking for. I was driving. I enjoyed, for the most part, talking to the people we met. No one was obnoxious or offensive. I saw St. Marc after work when people are enjoying each other or heading home for the evening. All of this made me realize that Haiti now feels like home.
It’s amazing what you can find around a photocopier.