Monday, February 23, 2009

Jacmel and Carnival

We left early Friday morning to get to Jacmel. Most of us were still fairly tired from the night before so the bus trip was a nice time for a nap. What I did see of the countryside was pretty, in a deforested kind of way. It was a very winding and curvy road. I was thankful to get a motion sickness patch from one of the nurses so I didn't vomit all over the bus. That might have put a damper on the trip.

Jacmel is a much much more mellow city than P-au-P. There was less trash in the streets and less people. When we got into the city we went straight to the place our pediatric outreach clinic would be and 6 (2 MD, 2 RN, and 2 support) set up shop. We stayed busy from 10-4pm, with only a 10 min break towards the end. Most of the children were fairly healthy. The only big problem we saw was a 2 year old with a 3 degree burn on her belly from boiling water splashing on her. Tim did a debridement and that little girl was a champ! I'm told with that type of burn since the nerves are damaged you can't really feel anything, but I know if I was on that table with Tim scraping away, I would be yelling my face off. I think the lollipop we gave her was a poor prize.

Still a Blazers fan, even in Jacmel:

After we got picked up we needed to wait for the other half of the team to come back from their rural outreach. The driver, Poeshaun and our tour guide, Bob (not his real name) took us to a hotel where they had french fries! Are you kidding me? French fries! They were amazing to say the least. If you know of my fry addiction then you know going over a week without fries was like torture.

We made it to our hotel, Hotel Cyvadier, and it was really very beautiful. Plus, air conditioning, a pool, and restaurant. Again, I felt a little like an ass for being treated so well by the Haitian staff. The rest of the night was fairly uneventful. The next day, Saturday, Bob took us around Jacmel. I have a feeling that Bob took us to places where he knew people so that we could spend money in their stores. Most of the group bought some souvenirs, I bought a $5 carved walking stick. You know, for all that walking I do. He took us through the market where Haitians come to buy food and other sundries. It was an experience that I cannot do justice by explanation alone. We got pushed and shoved, we walked through open sewage right next to stands with meat and fish, there was a lot of yelling (not in a bad way), and people giving us all strange looks. I liken it to being in the mercado in Juarez, only 100 times more people, more smells, more loudness.

I saw this basketball net in the Plaza during our tour:

After the city tour we went to a little beach for a barbeque, again put on by Bob's friends. I'm getting really spoiled by the rice, beans and fried plantains that I have almost every meal. I'll be sad to have to leave that behind for sure. Maybe I can talk Ben into making the plantains for me sometime. We sat out on the beach for most of the afternoon and were serenaded by these children wearing costumes, I assume it was because carnival was the next day.

This was a cute kid with a homemade toy:

Most of the "domesticated" animals in Haiti aren't use to much contact, so they've runaway at most of my attempts to pet them. This little mama came right over to me. One of the highlights of my trip to Jacmel for sure:

Saturday night we were suppose to go see a preCarnival showing of the masks. I went begrudingly because I was excited to see the masks on parade. However, Bob took us to a bar owned by his friends and that was it. I was annoyed to say the least. It is not my idea of a good time to sit around while everyone drinks and yells and screams. I felt duped. Luckily we didn't stay long and left after about 90 minutes. What can I say? I'm turning into a grumpy old woman at 34 years old.

Sunday afternoon was very relaxing. A small group went for a hike, and the rest of us stayed behind at the hotel. I stayed by the pool, reading and listening to music. Considering that I will be back in cold and rainy Portland in a few days I wanted to get all the sun I could.

At around 630 we headed out to Carnival. Oh my lord. It was amazing and crowded and hot and sticky and loud. We had a fantastic time, but honestly I don't think there is a way to accurately describe it if you haven't been there. I feel like I say that about a lot of Haiti, but it really is true.

We parked at one end of Carnival, at the Plaza and then walked from the Plaza to our designated stand. Haitians spend the week prior to Carnival erecting these stands for people to dance on as the bands go by. We had to basically partner up with a buddy and walk/push our way in a line. Casey, one of the occupational therapists, had brought glo-bracelets for our group to wear so we could find one another more easily. It was a harrowing experience to get to the stand but once we did we had a great time.

We returned from Carnival fairly early, which I was glad for. Today, Monday, we ate breakfast and headed back to P-au-P. It took us 3 hours to get back to the guesthouse, but it was such a relief! Especially because we're having pizza for dinner. The only chain restaurant in P-au-P, and I'm assuming all of Haiti, is Domino's. Random, but I say bring it on.


Posy Quarterman said...

You are so funny with your basketball, french fries and pizza! I remember thinking I would get sick of beans and rice in Belize but never did. I just craved it when we got home. I'm loving the blog and photos.

Melanie M. Smith said...

For our dinner tonight I was disappointed to not have fried plantains, rice and beans because I have grown accustomed to eating that for almost every meal. I'm sure Ben will be able to whip up some Creole deliciousness when I get back to Portland.