So far our trip in Haiti is going wonderful. We have accomplished every task that we had planned out. On our second day we went to the local steel market in the tap tap rides. In other words we rode in wagons with swag. Even though they don't have doors or proper seats, tap taps have paintings of haitian pop artists all over them and blast some very catchy haitian tunes which most of the times are filled with profanities. At the steed market we bought several handcrafted ornaments . They ranged from images of Noah and the arc to old pagan voodoo rituals. After our shopping trip we headed back for a lunch of delicious haitian rice with meatballs. the best I have had so far. In the evening students headed to a private orphanage nearby. The experience was tough and emotional for many but everyone came out with a better understanding of the actual needs of places like those. The conditions were not bad, the children were clothed and fed and had air-conditioned rooms to sleep in. the orphanage is funded by a group of Americans who also bear the cost of the education of the kids. A setback was the way babies were handled by their caretakers . Most of them were dressed in dirty clothes and wet nappies. Their cribs were stacked up one on another which gave the feeling of a cage, which was ironic considering their situation.
On tuesday we got down to work on the HAC compound. We divided into two groups, one consisting of most of the guys and some girls started work on the roof helping out the construction workers by sanding, transferring cement blocks and buckets of sand. The second group emptied, cleaned and organized the storage room which contained educational material and medicines. That night we went up to Kenscoff, A city up in the mountains about an hour and a half away from Crois Des Bouquetes where we are staying. Kenscoff is a whole other world. That is where the influential Haitians along with the Haitian president live. Most of the influential Haitians are people who have inheritance money, hence the social ladder is almost non existent. We visited a very interesting museum which showed the history of voodoo and the origins of the people of Haiti. They also carried different ancient ornaments from different countries and I was a very happy girl when I saw Pakistani currency all the way up in a haitian museum!
After that we went to have dinner with a Haitian family. The house was a modern home perched up on the mountain, with a beautiful view of the city below. Our hostess was gracious and we had the most delicious dinner which consisted of wild turkey, Haitian fish, black Haitian rice and local beans . For desert we had homemade Banana cake and upside down pineapple cake. We washed our scrumptious meal with some wonderful Haitian tea. After the meal we all sat on the terrace and got to know each other. Most of us were in each others classes but had never talked to each other before. After an evening of laughter and good food we headed back to our compound. In our daily reflection meeting some very interesting points were made. A lot of people described their experience of the last forty eight hours as a stark contrast and eye opening. We saw two very different sides of Haiti mere miles apart form each other. Crois De Bouquetes has the extremes of poverty, homeless people and broken roads and on the other hand we have Kenscoff where the Haitian elite and most of the foreigners live. The roads are paved and homes are fancy.
We have learned a lot in our trip so far, we are enjoying the blazing Haitian sunshine with the cool mediterranean breeze, we are greeted with some angry faces yet some very welcoming ones, we have seen both the extremes of the social and economic side of Haiti. We have seen two cities in the same country yet very different. To say that during the last two days we have experienced a stark contrast in almost every aspect would not be wrong. What remains to be seen is what caused the divide, what factors widened it, and what is the solution that will bridge it.