Homemade Toys , Carnaval, and Leaving Les Anglais

Trip Start Jan 29, 2009
Trip End Feb 08, 2009

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Flag of Haiti  ,
Friday, February 6, 2009

 It has been a busy and stimulating week with little sleep and that would be the last night in Les Anglais. We all got to work early to finish everything we needed to do by mid-afternoon because we would be driving back to Port Salut to stay the night and then finish the drive to Port Au Prince the next morning.

Kay and I headed out with Junior and Altrex to finish the last subset of surveys in order to reach our goal of 50! We were finishing the surveys in an area just a few minutes north of the city center. The area is called Debouche two. The kids continued to be very scared of us but Junior did a great job trying to play with them so they felt more relaxed...it worked and made our job a lot easier. Overall, the area seemed to have similar answers as Digue. Most people didn't have latrines and they didn't use the wells in town but instead got their water from thr river. We were told of several deathes of children including a woman that lost seven children in her lifetime. Can you imagine losing seven young children and dealing with it?

We interviewed four houses and then we went to a house that had a little boy playing with a home made toy. He had a piece of string going through a bottle cap which had a whole in the center. He would string it around his fingers with both hands and then twist it up. After it was twisted, he would pull the string equally on both ends and the bottle cap would spin right in the middle of the string over and over again. I asked if I could try and he handed it over to me. I couldn't figure it out at first but after a couple of attempts, I GOT IT and everyone laughed. The kids obviously don't have toys like we do in the states so they always have to be creative and make them out of materials laying around. We saw some amazingly creative toys. I played catch with a little boy that made a ball out of his socks stuffed with his undershorts. One of my favorite games was to move the tire or rim down the road with a stick. It was much harder than it looked. It took me at least 10 times before I could run with the plastic rim while I pushed it with a wire that had a hook on the end. This was the hardest game yet. You can see the attached pictures. It was funny because as soon as I was able to do it...I started pushing my plastic rim down the road with the metal hook and all of the kids started running with me down the road! It was super cute.

After finishing the last surveys and meeting our goal of obtaining 50, we headed back to eat lunch. While we were eating, we had learned that the nine people taking care of us all week were volunteering their time. They cooked every meal for us, did our dishes, did our laundry (for all to see), and swept the house. We discussed tipping them and all threw a couple of bucks into a pot to be distributed between them for taking care of us all week.

So I forgot to mention the night before last, we were fortunate to be a part of the small carnival celebration that happened locally. One of the big celebrations in Haiti is called Carnival and happens once a year. The main celebration is in Port Au Prince at the end of February. Throughout February leading up to the celebration in Port Au Prince, each town has their own celebration on a certain day. Everyone dresses up in masks, paints their bodies, and runs around town showing toff heir costumes. We walked downtown to get a glimpse and everyone was gathered in the street.

There were four men painted black with black, creepy masks running around with sharp sticks in their hands. To be honest they were pretty scary. See attached pictures. I was walking toward the crowd of people when the men dressed up noticed me (I don't know how-just kiddn') so they ran over toward me and started jumping around me and yelling something in Creole. The crowd of people followed them so I was completely surrounded by the guys dressed in black with scary masks and the crowd of people on all sides. I have to be honest that I was a little uncomfortable but it was such a unique experience so I just stood there and took it all in. I took a picture of them and they were holding their hands out towards me. I didn't know what to do and I didn't have any money with me, which is what I think they were asking for. I thougth for a second and the only thing I had besides my clothes was a Coca Cola that I just opened on the walk downtown. I quickly held it up toward the one guy and he shrugged his shoulders and took the Coca Cola. I took a deep breathe and they continued to walk down the street and I was relieved. After that, a group of guys with these funny looking plastic horns came over to play for me. They were fun to listen to..unique music. Check out the pics and crazy outfits.

Continuing the day, we went to pack up our things and load the trucks. All of the kids were gathered around us and everyone knew we were leaving. I was starting to feel sad and had a little tear in my eye. One little girl, came up and sat next me for 30 minutes so I started speaking to her in what little Creole I knew after the week. I asked her what her name was and it replied Fabiola! I called her Fabby. She was sooo cute and she just sat there next me watching every move I made. I snapped a photo of her sitting on the bench next to me. She was sooo cute.

We all took one last team photo of everyone and started the 2 1/2 drive back to Port Salut. Once we pulled up to Port Salut, we were all so excited to finally jump in the Ocean after a long week of work. We didn't swim in Les Anglais for fear of the water being contaminated but this area seemed to be safe so we all jumped in. It was sooo refreshing after taking bucket/solar showers and being dirty all week. I got out of the water and took a shower with running water and a bed!!! The little things were nice to have however, we started looking at some of our pictures that night before bed and I started to feel sadness to be leaving this area after spending so much time and being so embedded in the community. They were all amazing people and I will never forget them. We went to bed in preparation for the long drive to Port Au Prince tomorrow morning.   
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