Monday, November 12, 2012

The Beauty and the Beast



Well, we made it! Leaving Washington DC at 6 am got us into Hinche, Haiti at about 5pm, and what a day it was. As Greg said, his jaw dropped and hasn't come back up yet…there is a lot to process on your first trip to Haiti. Beauty, heartache, smoke, dust and gorgeous scenery all together can overwhelm.
So far, Greg has had the experience of going to the best supermarket in port au Prince- the Deli Mart— blaring music, beggars who lost limbs in the earthquake, and all the special food we needed. Then, a 3-hour ride in the Jeep—through exhaust fumes, tent cities, dust and cooking smoke of Port au Prince, then the air clears, and you’re in the lovely, green Central Plateau, overlooking lakes. We bought avocados on a rest stop. This is the earliest in the fall I've ever visited Haiti.. Rainy Season just ended and it’s SO green. We had vistas in the rugged mountains with rippling ridges of grass glowing in the sunset as we drove north to Hinche. …goats, pigs, and chickens plentiful and fat ( for Haiti standards) after rainy season. The lush grass contrasted with some of the raggediest people at tiny stands along the highway, selling whatever they can: hard candy, fish, sugar cane, charcoal.
We had a huge, fancy 2-hour mass at the cathedral on Sunday, with about 12 priests and the bishop. There is the never-ceasing amazement that people who live in little houses and cook their food over charcoal fires and wash with water from a pump down the road, can show up dressed to the nines and looking SO lovely, for church. I can’t manage makeup for Quaker Meeting once a week.
While Greg installed wire shelving all over the midwives HQ house, I went on a mobile prenatal clinic in the pink Jeep today. We had one Haitian midwife on vacation , one not feeling well at all, and 47 women showed up. I invented the gynecology corner,

where we used our new portable table, old furniture re-arranged , and sheets for privacy so I could use my specuale, do my thing and test for STD’s.

Volunteer Jessica S. and I saw babies, mommas, and some sick ladies. It was hot, dusty, chaotic, and exhausting…but in the end, 47 women had vitamins, iron, medicines they needed. One got sent to the hospital. 3 matwons, or village birth attendants, came, and left with clean gloves for births, and much goodwill. When I got home I washed all the instruments in soap and then bleach, and dried them on Greg’s new shelves. We had corn meal and goat stew for lunch, with avocados. SO, Here we are. I think it’s another planet for my husband, who is hanging in there pretty well, considering there is no space suit that protects the mind from the turmoil of frantic, disorganization fueled by need, nor the heart from the sweetness, tenderness, loveliness and grief of Haiti. He's downstairs defrosting the frozen coils of the freezer/fridge, which we all hope very much is not broken. Meanwhile,we're drinking all the beer, as it's not getting any colder.
Bon Nuit.

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