Thursday, July 5, 2012

It’s raining right now, and actually very cool and pleasant.  I just saw online that it’s in the 90s in Wayne, and supposed to get to 100 again in a couple of days.  Yikes, I never thought that it would be hotter in the northeast than Haiti.  It’s probably in the low 80s right now.  Only in Haiti would I think low 80s is pleasant and cool.

Hope everyone had a happy 4th of July!  July 4th was a personal day for me from an exhausting Monday (detailed below), and also I wasn’t feeling too good since the morning when I woke up.  I was so sad to miss the fireworks and BBQ back home, but I at least tried to be as patriotic as possible.  The last few 4th of July’s were in Boston and DC, both of which had spectacular fireworks… can’t believe I missed them.  Instead we BBQ-ed chicken, and fresh chicken, which I guess is nice and healthy but also kind of a bleh,  meeting its demise 10 meters away from me.  We also had cake which was all I needed, and like the disgusting person that I am I started scooping the frosting from the cake plate.  Kevin mentioned that I talk about food a lot nowadays hahahaha which is not surprising.  I've already told him the places we need to go to in the 4 weeks I have back in NJ and NYC.  The list definitely includes Laduree, Eataly, and Shake Shack.  It’s all I think about I guess.

This is my dinner on a Styrofoam plate.  We also got fried sweet potato, yucca, and plantains which is my favorite dinner meal here.  BBQ chicken and fried delicious things?  Sign me up any day.  On the right is cake being cut up.  I already want another piece sighhhh.  If I'm craving cake here, I'm just thinking about the number of Paris Baguette trips I'll want to make.  I hope my parents are ready for all the pastries I'll be craving!

Group picture minus Alec.  This dress was the most patriotic item of clothing I had which surprisingly worked out pretty well, sans the little pink strawberries on the dress.  Actually, then we just added Nadia to replace Alec, and Jackie as well (he’s a Haitian who works around our compound and was amazing enough to set up all this).

We enjoyed some dancing in the gazebo to American music, including but not limited to Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and obviously some Party in the USA.  The guys all almost killed themselves from Miley but the girls thoroughly enjoyed it.  Dancing involved some sprinkler, car waxing, and the duck.

Since we didn’t have fireworks, we settled for a fire on which we put some work in.  Put the 2 together, it’s kind of like fireworks right?  Amelia, Logan, and Julian earlier had gathered some sticks, and we managed to pull it off.

This past Sunday, as a celebration of reaching July 1, we had our “airing of grievances” after dinner.  We headed to the soccer field nearby, and I had an absolute blast with the group.  We brought Oreos, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and beer, sat in the middle of the field (where I’m pretty sure we also encountered some ants in our pants, oh well), and went around in a circle as we each would air a grievance.  We surprisingly shared fairly similar ones, some of which included the foods we missed although we definitely praised the food we do get here, because it’s actually good and much more than I ever expected.  Other than that I’ll keep the rest of the airing to within the group.  We did end on praises, many of which reminisced on some of the best mentors that we’ve had.  Mine was the tightness of our group.  The mix works perfectly, and we all add something different to the group.  Some Cinnamon Toast Crunch remained, but the Oreos were all killed.  I’ve eaten all the cereal by now, not surprisingly.  I may need to make another trip to the American store and get more to sustain me for the remaining 13 days.

Monday was possibly the most exhausting morning I’ve had since I’ve been here.   I was in the adult outpatient clinic with one of our mentors Selin, who is an ER physician at a hospital affiliated with Tufts.  Normally, we get 6 patients to see, 7 at most.  We received a stack of papers for 17 people.  To see 17 people in 3 hours is ridiculous, and each patient’s interview and exam takes double the time it normally takes, since we need to use a translator.  We didn’t finish until 2:00 , no breaks at all between.  Some patients had, no joke, 6 chief complaints, and because we had so many patients, we had to ask what the absolute most important problem was, because we just did not have the time to address every concern.  We also had a good feeling that most of these people were overall exaggerating their problems and actually didn’t have all these issues.  I can't even really remember what cases I saw.  The only one I remember is the one about cervical arthritis.  Otherwise, I think I was trying not to pass out from heat and not eating.

The afternoon was fairly cool (relatively aka in the 80s), so we decided to hike to the ridge.  It only took an hour round-trip but it was straight up hill, and there was no real path.  I’ve got scratches, the battle wounds to prove it.

The struggles of the uphill hike: 

We made it to the top!  We're in shock I think.

Look at how far up we are!  You can see the soccer field in the back, and our compound is right next to it.
This is my pretend smile where I look happy, but internally I was trying not to die as my heart is feverishly pounding against my chest.  Surprisingly, the way up was better than the way down.  Well, there was a trade-off.  On the way up, my heart was pounding against my chest as I tried not to pass out, but at least I never slipped.  On the way down, I slipped and nearly fell at least 10 times.  But, I felt very accomplished.  Whoever expected me to be this hiker now?  Oh who am I kidding, I went hiking maybe 5 times here just to force myself to be active.


The survivors of the hike!

Not to worry my parents, but you know how I just mentioned that I wasn’t feeling too good since yesterday morning?  Well, guess who woke up with her first case of diarrhea since being here.  Me.  I’m surprised I’ve gone 5 weeks without getting sick so really, this isn’t too bad.  I’ve avoided most foods today aside from some French toast and pineapple in the morning, and Nature Valley bars for lunch.  If I don’t eat, there’s less to come out right? 

Unfortunately, though I was feeling pretty nauseous all day, I forced myself to go out to Thibeau.  It was our last village visit to Thibeau, so I needed to get more surveys done today.  Now, we only have 2 more days in the village.

One of the homes was amazing.  The daughter’s father has a nursery, where they sell tree seedlings that have started to grow.  They had mango, cashew, orange, and a ton of other types.  I wish I could bring one back to the US.  We bought 2 for $1 to plant at the compound.

As we started walking, a mass of children started following me, Lele who is our translator, and Donna, one of the ER physicians here.  I kid you not, I was legitimately molested by children today haha.  As we interviewed another household, 10-15 children walked into the yard as well.  While I’m standing and taking notes, they started pulling and touching my hair, also stroking my arms and legs.  A lot of them were commenting on how soft my hair and skin is.  At one point, they started poking my butt and I had to jerk away and say no no.  They then started to touch my face and ears.  I had to constantly move around so they wouldn’t touch my mouth.  It was a fairly violating experience haha (not really, well, yeah I guess so actually).   Lele tried to yell at them to stop, and they would for an entire 5 seconds.  Then they resumed touching any exposed skin surface.  When we left the home, they followed us and grabbed my wrists.  Then, they started to argue who would get to hold my hand and try to push each other away.  I’ve never experienced this until now, this absolute fascination with me.  Donna was spared the attack for the most part.  They actually chose not to stroke her, but really only attacked me.  I asked Lele why they were so fascinated by me, and he said though they’ve seen “white people,” they’ve never been so close to one, so they were touching my hair and skin to see if I was real.  To them, I was a doll to play with.

When I asked for a picture, all of them clamored to be in it, and I’m pretty sure even during the picture they were still trying to touch me.

As we walked to another household to interview, they asked me what color my blood was.  I said it was red, just like yours, that all of us have red blood.  What they said next made me absolutely heartbroken.  The children said that my blood was better than theirs because of my skin color.  I had never heard that in Haiti until now, and to hear children saying it was really upsetting.  I hope that this isn’t a widespread mindset.

Less than 2 weeks left in Haiti!  Crazy...

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