Chris and I loaded up the VW and headed out of town on Friday around noon. For the record, out of the members of the Rolling family that inhabit this house, I am the one usually standing in the driveway ready to go. I would sit in the truck but I’m the designated gate closer so I have to wait in the yard…
We had a few errands to do in Port on our way up to Furcy. After a quick stop at Eko Depot to get wire for the upstairs sockets (we’re going to participate in this novel thing called “grounding” – foreign to many Boss Electric here) we stopped at a special tile store to get some tiles to fill in the floor in the kitchen where the old wall was. Sometimes my husband completely surprises me. I was thinking we would just find something white/cream that would blend and fill in the hole. He thought we should take the opportunity to add some funk to the house. This particular tile store not only sells beautiful ceramic tile, they also manufacture very cool hand painted mosaic tiles. Hmmm…plain white or cool mosaic??? Because we didn’t pre-order the tiles and we only wanted a small amount we ended up walking to the factory area in the back where they actually make the tiles. After some discussion, the office manager doing the “I’m put out because you’re asking me to think outside the box” sigh and hemming and hawing, one of the other head staff saying, “It’s 13 tiles, it’s not a problem” we were sent back to the main store to pay a whopping $5.60 US, then back to the factory to pick them up, a run around to find a box and we were on our way. The said tiles…
The process to make them is pretty cool. There are several stations all lined up. Each station has two or three guys working on them. I think one is the “boss” and the other is sort of an assistant/apprentice. There’s a smooth metal slab that gets painted in the desired pattern. I think the paint is quick drying. The apprentice clamps on the form and the boss starts to fill it with layers of cement powder and clay, then fine gravel and I think a sprinkling of water. Another piece gets clamped onto the form and the tile gets pressed really hard. The forms are removed and the tile is set to dry on a rack. Each tile takes about 5 minutes. Very cool to see an industry like that happening here. We’ve decided that any time we need to replace tiles around here in the future we’ll just go get another random pattern and see what kind of crazy, eccentric house we can put together ;)
We were up to Furcy before dark and the relaxing set in quickly. We realized that because of where we were born and grew up we are mountain people. Relaxing for us happens when we aren’t sweaty and sticky. We like jeans and sweaters with the choice of wearing shorts. We were completely lazy on Saturday morning and did nothing but sit around on the back deck reading and drinking warm beverages. It was fabulous and made us giddy for our camping trip in BC in a month.
Churchill came up Saturday afternoon and yesterday we went to visit Pere Jean Yves, a Catholic priest that has a church in Furcy proper (the house is on the outskirts). He has a nursery there where they grow vegetables, tree seedlings and plants to sell. He said that kids in the community are responsible for growing many of the flowers etc and the sale of them helps pay for their school fees because he wants them to learn the connection of working for things.
Churchill invited a few friends over for lunch and I enjoyed sitting and listening to the things that men talk about when their wives are away. Many times I was in stitches from laughing so hard. We talked about cooking and the mistresses of Haiti’s presidents past and present, cars, planes and more stories than I can remember. Haiti has 8+ million people, but in so many ways is not that big. The boujwa are a tight knit group where families intertwine and everyone knows everyone. And everyone knows everything. You can learn a lot by just listening :) We always enjoy meeting new people here because they’re always interesting.
Chris and I started making the trip home in the late afternoon. Sunday means very little traffic. It was also the final game of the America’s Cup Soccer Game. Here they call it football. If anything is important here, it’s football. The game started around 3 pm so we could trace the progress as we came down the mountain. Brazil scored their second goal as we came down into Port au Prince from Petionville. We knew this because people were driving by on scooters and waving two fingers in the air like a peace sign. You could always tell where the radios and tv’s were because there would be a crowd of people gathered. Going through Bon Rapau we passed a side street that must have had several hundred people standing and another 30 sitting on the wall, all so they could listen to the game.
Brazil won as we were going through Archaie. We knew because everyone that had been gathering around radios and tv’s took to the street – actually the main national highway – literally as we were driving through. Haitians love soccer. They also love to have a reason to celebrate en-mass. When their favorite team wins they turn into crazy people. They don’t really seem to care that they’re running in front of vehicles on the national highway.
We didn’t really hit any blockages until we got to Montrouis. Normally driving through Montrouis takes 2-3 minutes. Yesterday we traveled about 10 feet every 5 mins. When things really got going we found ourselves surrounded by several thousand people, all just having a good time. At one point a guy started yelling through our window, drunk I’m sure, but another person just gently moved him aside. Normally a mob here would leave me feeling uncomfortable but I found myself smiling most of the time to see how excited people were and to be right in the middle of something very cultural here.
After about half an hour we were in the middle of town and the truck decided it wasn’t going to start. We thought it was gas so I ran down to Mike and Marion’s to see if they had any – only 1/2 gallon and it didn’t do the trick. About a month ago we got smart and started leaving a truck key with Jean when we go away in case we run into any problems on the road. Yesterday was one of those days. We gave him a quick call and asked him to bring a jerry can from the house and rescue us. While we were waiting it started to rain and while some people headed home there was still a dedicated crowd celebrating. Jean made it through the throng fairly easily and we quickly discovered that gas wasn’t the problem, so it was time to tow.
We got across the bridge and met up with the revelers. There was a line of traffic behind us and a police officer out of uniform came to Jean’s window as sirens and lights started flashing behind us. Usually that doesn’t warrant much attention here, not like back home where you can get a ticket for not moving over. Turns out the siren wielding vehicle was a UN truck and the police officer had asked them if they could escort us through the crowd because we were towing and it would be safer for everyone. Once the officer gave them the flag they went ahead of us and parted the sea of people who were pretty excited to let us through. It’s not every day you get a full escort through a crowd here and I won’t deny it, it was pretty darn cool. From there it was just a matter of time and we pulled into the driveway. It’s funny how much your perspectives can change when you live in a place like this. You always have to anticipate that there will be problems and you just learn to go with the flow when they do arise. If anything life is always interesting here.
Today I’ve got coolers to clean, a house to tidy and some peach jam to make. I do have mission work to do but it seems unfun right now so I think I might procrastinate and save it for tomorrow. Chris was just working on the VW and apparently it was a gas problem that was easily fixed. Next time that we run out of gas and we’re not stuck in a crowd of thousands we’ll remember what we need to do :)
PS: To those stalkers that have sent an email requesting Prayer Cards – I have received the requests and you’re on the list. Check your mail in late August/ early September :)