A busy day scheduled – so it meant getting up and out of the house early today.
First stop Haiti’s version of The Home Depot. When we were up in Riviere Froide with Rick on Saturday he told me he needed more anchor screws, a gas can, and a couple of tool belts. Patrick (Rebecca’s son and our interpreter) told Rick that we could get the stuff at Home Depot – this made Rick laugh wildly…but Patrick insisted Haiti had a Home Depot. As for myself I was skeptical – for the past five years of working on service projects in Haiti I have always been told we had to buy the materials in the U.S. and ship them to Haiti because you just couldn’t get them in Haiti. Wrong again…and this was quite a revelation…
Its called Eko Depot and man it looks pretty close to Home Depot from the outside and yes inside too – we walked in to find screws, nails, tools, garden supplies, generators, and yes even your luxury lighting and gas grills. Megan and I walked around in shock and with the camera – to prove to Rick that Home Depot does exist in Haiti. They did not have the steel we shipped to Haiti – and their materials probably are a few dollars higher (Rick said what we bought came pretty close to US prices) but the idea that we could just walk in and purchase materials during future visits for future projects and not worry about shipping is just a mind blower for me! Once again I have learned something very valuable on this trip…. how to get to Home Depot and from driving around Port au Prince so much this week – I am finding I generally know where I am. It’s actually really cool. Of course I would get lost but I am starting to get the lay out down on my head. We were able to buy the screws Rick needed and the gas can – the tool belts were not the type Rick wanted so we passed on them. Went to the U.S. Dollar register - paid (got a receipt J) and left.
Next stop was to find the Murro & Filla warehouse where our generator (actually Rick’s) had been brought after clearing Customs just this past Thursday. This warehouse distributor receives shipments for Partners in Health – who shipped our generator for free thanks to a network of friend of ours – thanks Leo for getting the generator to Haiti for us. Well getting it to Haiti is tough but finding it was even trickier. The directions I was emailed weren’t exactly right which meant we wasted about an hour before finally finding the warehouse….but we did prevail and we moved on and headed out to Riviere Froide to deliver our goods and check on the progress of construction.
Before we left for RF we waited to meet Anderson – Anderson Pierre is an employee of the Makouti Cooperative and someone we have worked with since the second trip to Haiti both on LaGonave and this past January in Leogane. We called Anderson to help with the generator but we really didn’t need his help – we had it loaded before he even got there but both Megan and I wanted to see him. Anderson helped us hire a truck and driver in January when we wanted to go to the airport to try to leave Haiti – he was the person who helped us and I really like him. We hugged and chatted for a couple minutes and he is going to go up to Riviere Froide (I think) tomorrow. He was a bit panicked after the earthquake – wanted to come to the US but he seems better now and his wife is taking her final exams for nursing so I think he is okay.
The ride to RF wasn’t as bad as it seemed on Saturday-possibly because we were already through most of Port au Prince when we left the warehouse with the generator. It felt like it took about an hour to get to RF.
A tap tap full of people on their way out of Port au Prince…….
When we got there we were greeted by lots of kids – we headed up the hill to the handicapped school – Rick & Andy were plugging away at the beams (or whatever they are called) that go across the roof to hold the roof up and in place. Rick told me it was slow going for two reasons – one is the heat – it was oppressive – I was sweating streams of water just standing still – my clothes were saturated and stuck to my body and I hate to sweat to begin with. I have to tell you Rick and Andy are incredible people – how they could work as much as they have in this heat is amazing.
The second reason Rick told me it was slow going was due to the fact that the men he was training had no experience – no experience at anything…. they didn’t know what direction to turn a screw driver! I laughed but I stood back and observed the process for a long time. He was right – when they went to secure a beam Rick or Andy would have to show them where to drill and how to line it up – if they tried to do it themselves it would be crooked or not lined up even – Rick would stop them just as they would be about to screw in the screw – it was frustrating to watch – I can only guess how Rick felt – he is so mild mannered but at times I thought he was about to lose it.
It was so hot up there that when a man walked by with a pop stick Rick stopped him and begged to know where he got them from – he then sent a worker with money to go buy a bag of them. I think he needs a bronze pop stick to remember this week by. About 1:30pm they started to prep to start the roof – the sky was really getting dark and all of the sudden the sky opened up and the rain just came down and kept coming down in buckets- it was raining so hard that we were filling buckets. The children were stripping down and taking baths in the rain – with soap!
The school is a bit behind schedule – Rick thinks that the roof will be completed before he leaves on Wednesday – then he will return in 3 weeks – he thinks it will take about 2 more trips to finish it – depending on workers, etc. The man is a saint.
After it continued to pour and it seemed like little more would be done today – they put up a couple sheets of the roof but the rain was preventing them from using the power tools – Rick got zapped when he went to turn off the power strip. We headed back down the mountain – the rain had just been torrential and the roads were like rivers. The river – which is usually a stream was raging ….it was wild. We made our way down to Carrefour, which was even worse, and the port area of Port au Prince was impassable so we wove around the city a different way to get back to the Guesthouse. Patrick – our driver and interpreter has an uncanny sense of direction and really knows the city – so when an area was too deep or backed up he would head down another side street. It probably took us double the time to get back than it did in the morning to get back.
So here we are —we were about to blog earlier but it was dance time ….music went on and we were all out in the driveway doing the Haitian twist and some cha-chas – it was cool – only in Haiti can you blast music outside at night in the city….the house across the street from us (the one that was destroyed in the earthquake) had people sitting on top of it watching us and some children in the next house to our side where laughing and watching us from their balcony…we must have looked ridiculous! But it was a blast!!! I like it here – its like being immersed into a family and its Haitian culture. It American enough to be really comfortable but still you really get a look into the culture and everyday life in PAP.
Tonight we killed our third tarantula – yes it is our 3rd! I was sitting here (just about 1/2 hour ago) blogging and when I looked up I saw this big spider coming across the kitchen floor headed directly at my direction. I got up and tried to go to get Rebecca to help kill it (who am I fooling – I wasn’t getting close enough to it to kill it- so I wanted to get her so she could do it) when I tried to head toward her room the spider changed direction and came at me – so yelled for her. She came out and wacked it with her shoe - at which point Megan ran in with Patrick….Megan was upset that she didn’t get tot take a photograph before we killed it. They think they may have a nest because its really unusual to see this many spiders. Nice…..
Well its time to catch up on Facebook and email – so until tomorrow…..but here are a few memories from today