Chris and I headed into Port early on Friday morning with plans for lots of errands and to stay with friends, Dennis and Nancy, that night. We actually ended up coming back this afternoon. Our not-planned four day excursion was very productive and very fun.
First of all, it was overcast and rainy – for the last four days. It was so sweet. I was cold. I was wearing jeans. I was wearing jeans while driving around Port au Prince at 1:00 pm. I did not feel slimy. It was amazing.
Friday morning we headed to the Diahatsu dealer to check on the truck situation. Turns out the lovely people at Digicel bought out the stock that just came in. The next load arrives at the end of the month. I *think* they’re going to hold one for us?!? I don’t know, I was just the co-pilot.
I had to go renew my passport at the Canadian Embassy. What a process. I had gotten the forms and had them all guaranteed etc. while I was in Canada. Well, seems you can’t use that form for reapplying abroad. You have to use a different form. The thing is, they are almost identical with the exception of one thing. So I had to fill out the new form. But, I didn’t have anyone to guarantee it here for me because I’ve just lived here two years and no one that’s able to sign them has known me long enough. So, I had to get an exemption form, that needs to be signed by an official. The cost for them to look at all of my documents and put their John/Jane Hancock on the bottom of the paper that I have filled out is $50. The cost to renew my passport abroad is $100. The cost to renew my passport in Canada is $87. So, I will be the future owner of the most expensive passport known to man. It’s ridiculous. All because I don’t stay in Canada long enough to actually submit the forms and get the passport back. Sigh.
We went to Mega Mart to start the grocery shopping. As soon as I walked in the door I was hit with a weird reality – Christmas is coming. It’s now October. Sure, it’s a bit early to be thinking of the holidays, but they are coming.
There were shelves of Christmas decorations and the aisles were overflowing with soon to be Christmas presents. It was strange, but advantageous. In the appliance aisle we found an electric can opener. We aren’t being lazy. We’ve honestly given those nifty little crank handle numbers a good go, but they have let us down every time. I think our record for how long it’s taken to break a can opener here was about 3 hours from the time it got home. I bought a great crank one in Canada but made the mistake of stashing it in the same bag as the mosquito repellent. Bad idea. Bad, bad, bad. One of the bottles leaked and the can opener literally disintegrated. I’m so not exaggerating. Crumbled in my hand. So, we splurged and for $12 US we bought a new can opener. Chris has been begging me to use something canned so he can test it. The highlight of the whole experience for me was going through the check out process. First the guy bagging our groceries looked at it and I had to explain what it was. I hadn’t ever thought of how strange an electric can opener must look to someone who has never seen one. After we paid we had to go test it at the “testing area” to make sure it worked. Yes, it’s a lovely service offered here in Haiti, just so you don’t get ripped off. The guy at the testing counter had the same response as the grocery bagger.
I’m trying to get ready for our groups coming in a couple weeks so it was sort of a big shop for non-perishables. Caribbean, the big grocery store, switched all of their pricing recently to Gourdes, which makes sense because it is the actual currency you hold in your hand. But, everything in this country has been, and for the most part still is, priced in Haitian dollars, which is figured out by dividing Gourdes by 5. I’ve spent the last two years learning to do the auto conversion from Haitian dollars into American to see if the price is reasonable. I gave up trying on Friday because my brain couldn’t do the math. 235G for raisins…sure! 135G for ginger…great! Oiye!
We had a bread and Brie picnic in the truck in the grocery store parking lot for lunch. There is nothing yummier than fresh French bread and cheese. Mmmmm. It was pouring rain and the security guards hiding in their little security guard shack laughed hysterically when Chris whacked me with the bread for forgetting the drinks in the grocery bags which were then put in the truck lock box. Don’t worry, it was a loving whack.
We met with John McHoul to talk adoption stuff. Chris and I wanted to talk face to face and get more info on where things were at within the system. Chris and I have talked quite a bit about the whole thing, prayed about it and when we shared what we felt we should do we were encouraged to find out that John agreed with us. We believe we’re supposed to continue to move forward with getting our dossier done and take a baby in January as planned. I know some people think we’re probably pretty crazy. Maybe. But, we’re crazy people doing what we believe God is wanting us to do right now.
We went to CDTI, the newest hospital in Port, to see our friend Patrick, or rather Dr. Dupont. I needed to get a letter verifying I had good vision for my drivers license. Patrick wrote the letter, and an order for our blood work for our dossier. First of all, CDTI is a beautiful facility. Its a “normal” hospital. Those don’t exist here in Haiti. At least until 6 months ago they didn’t. We know where we’ll be going now if we ever have problems. Second, we went down to the lab and got our blood taken and TB test done, and the technician was one of the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of blood taken in my time. It was very refreshing.
The TB test was what made us stay in town until today – we had to go back this morning so they could see if we reacted. We didn’t. Actually we came through the testing with flying colors. Phew. I have to be honest, as I was watching the woman fold our results and stuff the envelopes my gut lurched. I was nervous about the results. In my mind I was thinking, “What if I’ve picked up something here that I had no idea about. What if I got HIV from mosquitoes…”
On the way to Dennis & Nancy’s from the hospital I saw something really sweet and wished that I had been able to get a picture of it. There, sitting on the side of the road, were two old women. One was a marchand, a merchant. She was wearing worn looking clothes. The other was dressed in a nice blouse, dress pants, had her hair done and was wearing nice jewelery. The two were looking through a photo album and I smiled to watch the nicer dressed woman pointing to pictures and telling the other woman about them. There was so much pride in her expression. I imagine she was probably showing pictures of her kids or grandkids, probably over in North America. The thing that just got me was the fact that the two of them, opposites in appearances, were in the end, just two women sitting and looking at pictures. It was sweet.
With all the extra time on our hands we decided to enjoy the weekend. We went over to friends for dinner on Saturday night. I realized I need to a) Get some more versatile clothes so I don’t look like a grub most of the time, and b) remember to pack the non-grub clothes, even if I only think I’m going for one night. A girl just never knows.
On Sunday we did something that I feel like I haven’t done in a very long time. Almost a year actually. We went to church. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve gone to church here many times in the last year, but it wasn’t church like the church I know. We didn’t go when we were home on vacation because we were out camping. I missed it. The church that we go to here when we go is one of the best ones in our area, but it doesn’t feel like home. Yesterday morning we went to Port au Prince Fellowship, the church that John pastors. It felt like home. I was able to worship in the way that feels most natural to me. It didn’t matter that we weren’t wearing “church” clothes. It isn’t about that for John and the congregation, something that is so different from the Haitian culture. And, it’s an English church. I had forgotten how much of a gift it is to go to church in your own language. It was an incredible blessing. I now know why people here will drive 2 hours to get there. I think we’re going to try and go more often now that we know where it is and that we can go and be fed.
Church was great for another reason…I finally got to meet Dr. Jen. Jen is working at St. Damien’s in Tabbare. Jen and I have been blog stalking each other and now that she’s in Haiti we had wanted to meet. We all ended up at John & Beth’s house for lunch (YUM!) and spent hours talking. We’ve got loose plans for a “play date” next month after all our visitors leave. Woo hoo! If you want to stalk Jen’s blog go here. The picture Jen has up is better, but we both felt it necessary to take photographic proof that we met – the colliding of the Blogosphere if you will.
Between church and heading over to John & Beth’s we stopped in to see our friend Claude and his model helicopter. It was amazing to watch him fly it. It was also really cool that he invited us out to see something that he enjoys doing. It felt very “normal” in a place that usually feels anything but.
We got home today and found out that Jan Filip, our night guard, had a visit from a couple of masked thieves last night. We haven’t had problems with stuff like that in a long time. The great thing is that Jan Filip didn’t hesitate to use the tazer. We’re really proud of him. He wasn’t close enough for it to actually hit but, it was enough to scare them away. They ran. Hopefully word will now be spreading that you don’t want to come and mess with our guardian because he has this crazy thing that he tries to shoot you with.