I know I promised to write about how things are here, but I must first write about some really nice things that have happened to me this past week.
As many of you know, I hate traveling alone because I get really homesick. I was a little worried about my three months here, since I knew things were going to be so different from last time....most notably, my best friend and constant companion, Jo, was not going to be here, leaving me with a lot of alone time. I knew I would be with my colleagues during the workday, but I wondered how I would fill the rest of the space. Happily, it turns out that I forgot how many friends I really did have here!
It's quite a feeling to run into people as if you have lived here forever. I was on the back of a moto today, coming home from work, when I heard my name being called across the street....a firefighter friend of mine was on his moto calling out to me. The other day I was walking in the hotel grounds and passed a man who stopped me....it was the big beefy Haitian policeman I used to attend logistics meetings with. I was in Pinchinat, the IDP camp, the other day and visited Charlotte's tent (she is the feisty leader of one half of the camp). I hadn't told her I was returning to Haiti (we had exchanged emails while I was in Canada) and when she saw me, she jumped up and ran to me and hugged me tightly for about 2 minutes. It's hard to feel lonely at times like this.
I have also been overwhelmed by everyone's generosity towards me. Ephisien, a hospital administrator that I met only briefly last time, has offered to drive me anywhere when needed. He has a car and driver that he could be renting out for $60/day, but has made them or him and his moto, available to me whenever necessary. My young friend that I have promised to help sponsor for school (an update on this in a later blog) has also offered to drive me around anywhere. He has no job and no vehicle of his own, but always manages to borrow one if he needs to come get me (he is also giving me Creole lessons as we speed home). Both have refused my offers of paying them for gas. The other night, Ruth, my colleague and friend, spent two hours in the car with me as I tried to find a hotel room (every place in town was booked solid) even though it was really late at night and she was wanted at home. When she heard that lunch was not included in the rate, she popped by the hotel the next afternoon with a plate of food she made for me, just before I headed off to PAP for meetings. And of course, there was Mona, who cheerfully brought her houseful of guest to my rescue when I called her in the middle of her dinner party because I had no lights. What friends!
I have found it - the real Haiti...the Haiti that exists when disaster recedes...unwavering generosity from the people that can least afford it.