Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It’s my last day in Haiti, so it’ll be my last blog post here!  I’ve been thinking about all the things I normally do or see in Haiti that’ll just be weird to adjust to back in the states (or thankful to have back):
  1. Not sitting on a porch 24/7 on a laptop or reading and finishing a book within 2 days.
  2. Not seeing chickens and goats everywhere I go.  That includes not having chickens lay eggs in our room (the total most recent count is at 3).
  3.  Not having people stare at me, some people who laugh and others, namely children, shouting “blanc.” I’ll probably also never have children play with me like I’m a little doll, not the way the children here poke and prod me.  I’m like an Asian female version of Justin Bieber here to Haitians, where children are so enamored by my strangeness.  I used to like children so much in the beginning but sad to say, with all the harassing and name calling, my adoration for them has significantly declined.
  4. Not having children follow me everywhere I go, or just in general not seeing naked children… because half the children here run around naked.
  5.  Resuming back to having traffic rules which will be a blessing, because cars here definitely don’t follow them if they even exist.  Swerving to avoid speed bumps is common.
  6. Following #5, not fearing for my life every time I walk on the side that I’ll get hit by some sort of motor vehicle.
  7. Not having a tap-tap as my main mode of public transportation.  Plus, not having a booming bass vibrate underneath me as I lose all sense of hearing from being inside a car.
  8. On the note of #6, paying more than $1 for a 30 minute ride on public transportation.
  9. Having room in a car – whenever we’re in the hospital cars, we’re squished to no end with no wiggle room.
  10. Not having to Purell my hands right after I wash them with soap.  Clean tap water is going to be such a blessing.
  11. Being able to use tap water right out of the faucet and not having to use chlorinated drinking water to brush my teeth.
  12. Not fearing I may get some diarrheal or tropical illness any second.
  13. Waking up refreshed and with no bug bites, although I got used to the bug bites here and having little bugs crawl anywhere and everywhere.
  14. Sleeping in an open bed with no mosquito net draping over me that I somehow become wrapped up in when I wake up.
  15. Having a ceiling again – not sure if I said this already, but where I’m staying, the mission house, there is no ceiling, just a roof so all the rooms are essentially connected, and you can hear conversations everywhere since they just travel over the nonexistent ceilings.  I die.
  16. Having my own room again with real privacy, as well as having a ceiling again.
  17. Paying more than $0.15- $0.20 for a mango or any fruit for that matter.
  18. Not having the ability to haggle anything I buy.
  19. Not being surrounded by the same people 24/7.
  20. Realizing all this time that I probably didn’t get very tan, but rather it was just a “dirt tan,” and after a real shower, I’m actually still pasty.
  21. Not feeling dirty 24/7 and appreciating the feeling of cleanliness.
  22. Wearing normal clothes again – I’m already excited to return to my Anthropologie and DVF wardrobe!  I think Marc Jacobs is calling back to me.
  23. Not downing a 1 L bottle of water within 2 hours.
  24. Having regular internet, that although has been pretty amazing here, will actually be high-speed and no limit to bandwidth.
  25. TV AGAIN!!!!!  That means watching the Food Network as background.
  26. Getting a solid night of sleep without being woken up my roosters at intervals of 3 hours, including at 3 AM.  Do roosters EVER sleep??
  27. Being able to chat on the phone and text to my heart’s content.
  28. Seeing white people everywhere I go.  We noted how whenever we see other white people around, we slightly panic because it’s such an anomaly.
  29. Speaking English on the streets and having people understand me.
  30. Carrying on a conversation with someone random beyond 2 sentences.
  31. People not offering me their babies, albeit they’re very cute.
  32. Not seeing machetes which is pretty normal here.
  33.  I realized I do a lot of just staring off into space on the porch which is entirely normal… and now people will think I’m a freak if I’m just staring off into space.

I think this could go on forever.  I think it’ll be a culture shock for a full 5 minutes, and then I’ll be glad I’m back in the US.

My suitcase right now is so much emptier than what I started out with.  I’m barely bringing back any toiletries, leaving behind most of my clothes except what I’m wearing back so I’m not naked in the airport.  We just sat in a circle and did the full photo exchange.  It was actually endearing to finish our trip reminiscing on all our times here, and laughing about all the stupid ones.  Plus, it meant I got all the photos I didn’t have to take while I was here.

For the final week, we’ve been pointing out all our final things here.  Particularly for me, last Wednesday, it was my last fried plantain, yucca, and sweet potato dinner which is undoubtedly my favorite meal here, and probably the only meal here where I eat beyond what I should normally eat.  But, I allowed myself to be the most disgusting person at the table because I’ll never have this meal again.  Monday was the last French toast for breakfast which is my favorite breakfast served here.  Life is full of (food) heartbreaks.

Friday we had our last class for the community health agents.  They got certificates for taking and “passing” all the quizzes.  They seemed to really enjoy the class and were so fun to work with.

Julian had a deal since the beginning of the trip, where he had to catch a chicken.  I forget how it all started, but my PI for my project who was also here the first couple of weeks, Dr. Hyde, was part of this as well.  Anyway, the same chicken that laid an egg in our room – actually it laid a total of 3 eggs, wandered into our room so he used that as an opportunity to trap the chicken.   We closed all the doors and had the chicken trapped in the courtyard and my god, this was possibly THE funniest thing I had seen this entire trip although I did feel bad for the chicken which seemed really scared.  I recorded the incident, although half the time I was dying laughing or screaming when the chicken came near me and thought it would peck me.

Now there’s evidence that Julian fulfilled his promise.

Island life has continued since Friday.  Sunday was the last beach day to Cormier.  We were there for 8 hours, and guess what I did for 8 hours?  Sleep and read.  It was GLORIOUS.  I fell asleep for most of the day, reading Perks of Being a Wallflower in between.  Thankfully it was short so I finished it at the beach.  I had the most delicious pina colada made with actual pineapple that was blended in front of me, not some crappy mix.  The day was finished with a cheeseburger and fries, then a mixture of papaya, pineapple, and melon sorbet.  Greatest day ever.  This picture Elaine took pretty much summarizes what I do at every beach trip.

The "magnificent 7" as the electricians called us.  I did kind of love us.

For the past couple of days as well, I’ve just been relaxing, walking around Milot and enjoying the scenery one last time.  It’s my last 24 hours sitting on the porch, so I want to make the most of it.  Basically this is what I looked like for all my afternoons.  I'm only wearing a jacket because it was raining and the rare occasion I was actually a bit cold.

I'm finally saying goodbye to the CRUDEM compound and Hopital Sacre-Coeur... can't believe I'm spending my last hours right now.

This is it for me, so thank you all so much for reading my blog!  I hope everyone enjoyed reading all about my adventures in Haiti.  It’s been a life-changing 7 weeks for me and something I will never forget, from the clinical experience and visits to the village, to the culture shock and adaptations I’ve had to make.  I’ve learned so much, and it’s been incredibly humbling.

Love and can’t wait to see everyone back in the US!

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