Well, today was my last full day in Haiti. It is amazing how fast trips go! I was going to say vacations, but this really was not a vacation. Anyways, we were all on the bus this morning by 8:30am and we headed off to do some shopping. We went to a place called the Metal Art Market. We weren’t sure what to expect but it had been recommended by several people. It ended up just being a neighborhood where multiple homes sold metal art. We wandered down the street, crossing occasionally, going in and out of houses. At the first house there were two kitties! One black one that had an old sore on his head and an infected eye, and a tabby that didn’t want much to do with me. They were both pretty skinny, but so adorable! The black one was meowing and begging for attention, so I gave him some scrubs for a while. I don’t think I even looked at any art in that house, I just petted Mr. Kitty. I guess it could have been Miss Kitty…. Oh well. Moving on… Ang and I bought a few pieces of art at the various houses and then we moved on.
Our next stop was another market place that just had general souvenirs and art work. On our way there, we stopped in front of the Presidential Palace. I had heard a few people mention that building, but never really thought much of it. But it turns out, that it is this massive white building that has some major structural damage. It happened during the earthquake and it, so far, has never been fixed. In a way, it gave me a better sense of how strong the earthquake actually was. A few students stepped out of the bus to take better pictures, but as soon as the bus stopped we were surrounded by street vendors. I didn’t really want to fight my way through them, so I didn’t get off. Of course, I sort of regret that now because I wish I had better pictures!
So we left the palace and headed off to the market. We were part way there when we heard several loud pops in a row. I wasn’t really paying attention but heard a student ask if that was gunfire. We look to our left and see all these people running down the street, followed by several armed policemen. It was pretty crazy! I didn’t feel like I was in danger, and that same thing could happen in any city in the entire world. But it was still rather intense. It turned out that the market was just half a block from that area, so no one really wanted to get off the bus and walk around. Instead, we headed to lunch. We ate at a place called Muncheez. Adorable, right? Ang & I got a cheese pizza to share, and it was surprisingly delicious. After lunch, we went to a nearby hospital. The nurses got off the bus and took a quick tour of the TB clinic, while the rest of us waited.
After that, we headed back to the UN base. You would think that by now the guards would recognize us, but apparently not. It took us a few minutes to get in and then we drove to the United Nations Development Project. There we met with several people from the UNDP, and learned more about their work. They focus on the following five areas; democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, environment and energy, and HIV/AIDS. They were all very interesting and informative presentations, which was a nice way to end the trip. We were there until just after 5pm and then headed back to HHH.
We got to HHH and had to say goodbye to Herald, our interpreter. He has been so great to us! He has a great attitude and sense of humor, plus he was really patient with us! And I am sure we had to be pretty annoying! After Herald left we ate dinner and then had a quick meeting. We just talked about tomorrow and how it was going to go, and then just what would happen when we got home. We also discussed having a fund raiser for Herald. He used to rent a building and teach Haitians English, but ended up losing the building. He has been trying to open up a new school but just does not have the funds. So, we are going to try and raise $1,000 to help him start his school. Wouldn’t that be great? And it really isn’t even that much money! Hooray!
After our meeting a big group of us played a game called the Resistance. It was pretty fun. Most of them played it the last few nights, so me and Ang were a bit lost. Next time I’ll be better! I did a little bit of packing, got in the shower, and now I am just hanging out. I need to go to bed but really wanted to get my blog up. Especially since it is the last day! I am ready to go home in a lot of way, but it still kind of sucks. I’ll miss Ang (she is headed to Peru) and Greg and Michelle and really, just being a part of something. When you do a study abroad program, you are never alone! Which can be a bad thing, but when you get home it can be hard to adjust to being by yourself (not that I will always be alone, but you know what I mean!).
So, what is the main thing I will not miss? Being stared at. We get stared at everywhere we go. Not just glanced at or occasionally looked at… We get full on stares. I am sure that most Haitians have seen plenty of foreigners but I guess a bus-full of them is pretty weird. We get double takes, and pointed at, and sometimes one person in a group will see us, say something, and everyone flips around really quick to stare. I am just not a fan of it. I don’t like to be the center of attention! And while you know we will get stared at, you don’t know if the reaction will be positive or negative. Sometimes we get smiles and waves, other times we get angry hand gestures. And I don’t blame them if they aren’t happy to see us. But it is still no fun.
While there are many things I won’t miss (cold showers, weird food, sleeping under a mosquito net, sharing a room with 9 other girls, waking up early, humidity and heat, living out of a suitcase, etc) there are a few things I will miss. I’ll miss our bus driver, Olin. He is so funny. He doesn’t speak a ton of English (though I think he speaks more than he lets on) but always is laughing and trying to communicate with us. And he is such a good driver! I keep saying that if I come back to Haiti and start my own NGO I will hire him as my driver. I’ll also miss Gracie. She is the dog that is running around HHH. She is adorable! I’ve really liked having her around. And I’ll miss having a plan. I really like that I don’t have to decide what to do with my day! I just have to get up, and be on the bus. Like I said before, I’ll miss being part of a group and having adventures together.
Anyways, I need to go to bed. It is 11:30pm, which is the latest I have stayed up this whole trip! And I didn’t really do much of my packing so I better get on it. Tomorrow we don’t have to be on the bus until 9:30am and then our flight doesn’t leave until like 1pm. When we get to New York we are planning on going in the city as we have a twelve hour layover. Unless we get stuck in customs or something… Ang & I want to just hop in a cab and head off to Lombardi’s. They make the best pizza I have ever had. Delicious! But, we’ll see. Well, I’m off. Next time I write, I’ll be in the states. Crazy!
|More metal art|
|I liked this one, except for the dog is a bit creepy|
|A skinny dog, laying in the yard|
|A man making metal art|
|More metal art|
|The Presidential Palace|
|What looks to be a public park, taken over by tents|
|Us with the UNDP people we met with|
|Us with Gracie, Herald, and Olin|