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Update: 9/26/15

September 26, 2015
Day 22, Saturday, September 26, 2015
**** A little note here. Since I left Santo Domingo, Monday, September 14th, and arrived in Haiti, I have had no wifi. I kept my blog up on my iPad, and took some nice photos, but was shocked to discover my precious iPad was stolen in Cabaret when we visited there the following Saturday. With the help of wonderful Sammy, I rewrote the blogs, the best I could, from Monday to Saturday, and continued to record them in my notebook, and Sammy typed them up for me! I have wifi for a few minutes today in the local town, so I am glad to be able to post my blog. My blog is important to me – it is a true treasure of my travel experiences.****
Day 10, Monday, September 14, 2015
Goodbye to Santo Domingo
Took the big Caribe bus to Port au Prince. Prisca’s dad took me in … horrible ride in the heavy traffic but we arrived in good time, as we were there for 8 am and the bus was to depart at 9. I got myself a front seat right behind the diver so I could see everything really well. It was a surprise to be served some tasty food and a glass of Pepsi. It was a long trip, interesting going through the border and finally arriving 10 hours later to Polene and Despagne’s place, the Tchaka Inn. Supper was ready and a nice man from the States was there as well, who also does work in Haiti. I did not sleep well with the dogs and roosters barking and crowing throughout the night. But I made it to Haiti!!!!
Day 11, Tuesday , September 15, 2015
Tchaka Inn
It was not advisable to venture outside the closed gates at the inn, so it was a long morning not being able to do some exploring. I liked going up on the roof and looking out all around. There was a bit of a creek running behind at the bottom of the hill. It was very disgusting looking with piles and piles of old clothing lying on the banks. Women were doing laundry and children were going up and down the hill carrying jugs for water. The homes behind Tchaka Inn were really ghetto-like, all cramped together. There were people on the hill the whole was a real community gathering spot. In the afternoon I went with Polene to the airport to get Agatha, a new volunteer from Edmonton. Again the traffic was crazy! On the way home we collected her 2 girls from their school..supper..then bedtime and hopefully a better sleep! Tomorrow we are off to Desab, where we will volunteer.
Day 12, Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Wednesday morning Agatha and I hung out at the inn waiting for Fenel, the school principal at Desab, to come and get us. Desab is a small rural area with about 3500 people up into a mountainous area. The road was extremely rough, not much more than a big rutted path. We were introduced to the other volunteers; Maxwell, 20; his sister Sophie, 17 from New York; Asher, 18 and Sammy, 17, from Vermont. They seem like really nice kids. We are sleeping in a big dorm with bunk beds. We were in time for “lunch/supper”, about 2:30 pm, and then lots of the children from the area hung out with us on the huge outdoor veranda to the dorm, before we all hit the sack at about 10:00 pm. Tomorrow should be an interesting day.
Day 13, Thursday September 17, 2015
A Simpler Life
Abene is employed as coordinator for volunteer projects that happen in Desab. He helps us with everything; translating in the classroom, learning Creole, daily chores, and answers any questions we might have. Under Abene’s guidance, we went together as a teaching group into 2 classrooms to do an English lesson. Abene asked Agatha and I if we would like to see his home, a short walk from the school grounds, over the rough mountainous terrain. He has a lovely wife who was scrubbing clothes, while his five boys were playing, one of the 2 year old twins naked and a little scallywag. Very simple home, but welcoming and everyone seems happy. In the afternoon I went on a nice hike out the road heading to the closest town, Cabaret. Evening with the kids, then bedtime. A great day!
Day 14, Friday September 18, 2015
Hiking in Desab
In the morning we did our lessons as a group in the classrooms. After lunch I was lucky to go on a great hike with Agatha and Max. It was fun and of course it was very beautiful up in the mountainside. We found some limes on a tree and a couple of other things that looked edible but we weren’t sure. We met a few young kids cutting though the bushes doing family chores, carrying loads on their heads or leading goats, donkeys etc. One young lad that we see hanging out at the school, about 10, who unfortunately does not come to school, asked us if we could help hm as he was getting charcoal from an abandoned firepit, loading it into a sack to take to the market in Cabaret tomorrow. We helped him for awhile, then headed back. It is dark here soon after 7pm. Lots of kids come and hang around for a couple of hours; kids of all ages and it is pitch dark when they leave to make their way home on the hills. They are used to running around after dark with no lights. Such a different lifestyle to North American children.
Day 15 Saturday, September 19, 2015
Happy and Sad
This morning, after breakfast, I went for another nice walk, leaving at 9:00 am and planning to return by 10:00 am. Today we were having a little day trip and we were to be picked up by Arthur, an associate administrator from the school. I enjoyed the walk and met up with many interesting people and animals along the way. The road was in really rough shape today, after the huge downpour last night! I could not believe my eyes when I met the mom who had just had that new baby on the side of the road, now on the road with a donkey loaded with goods. We traveled to Cabaret (about 8km) and saw the market in full swing. We headed from there to a “beach”, but not what I expected. We were the only people there on this extremely hot day. There was no sand, only pebbles, but the water was very blue and lovely and warm. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. We had a few snacks to nibble on while there. We then headed into Cabaret to the market and since my crocs had broken, I walked barefoot into the market and rounded up a new pair of cheap rubber sandals. The others bought some things and we all purchased a few food items to put towards our supper when we got home. Unfortunately, the truck would not start. We waited around for about an hour and a half, before Arthur decided we needed to be taken back to Desab by motorcycle. I was super nervous about the motorcycle, as the traffic in Cabaret was WILD. I figured for sure this was the end for me. Three per motorcycle, including the driver, we survived the Cabaret traffic, and then onto the rocky, rutted, bumpy, curvy road. I hung on for dear life, and we made it safely. No generator again tonight, so all in darkness except for flashlights. Yummy supper was prepared by Sofie and Sammy. I was too distressed about the loss of my iPad … in Cabaret!! I was really in shock and deep distress about the disappearance of my iPad.
Day 16 Sunday, September 20, 2015
In the morning we went to church. It was incredible to see the children and parents dressed so impeccably, when you see the children mostly in torn, raggedy, dirty clothing all the time. What is so beautiful to see in these huge families is the ten year old looking after the nine year old, the nine year old looking after the 8 year old, etc., all the way down to the baby. So lovely. There was some serious bible thumping going on, and Abene was there playing the accordion and also preaching. His wife and five children were there… he really is quite a talented fellow. We had our main meal at about 2:30 pm; rice and beans!! I decided to go for a big walk again. This time I was gone for about two hours, up the same road, which is always an interesting adventure. I also read a lot today, and I’m just loving this book, Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty. No generator again today, which really doesn’t effect us volunteers much, as we use our flashlights. Tonight Sammy put on the DVD School of Rock, with Jack Black. That was fun – to inspire us for tomorrow, as there should be lots more students, we hope! I am still fretting about the loss of my iPad. I guess it was actually stolen from me somehow, and I really, really miss it. I also really miss having wifi, and communicating regularly, with my children especially! I miss them a lot!
Day 17 Monday September 21, 2015
More Students Needed
This morning the six of us and Abene visited each of the classes and did some simple lessons and I counted the total number of students at 25!!! It seems so sad, as there are so many out there who are not coming to school. I am doing my best to find out why … there are teachers in each of the classrooms … they need students!! After returning, we did not have our “lunch” at the usual 2:30 pm slot. There was no sign of the cook. Apparently she had gone to the market, so we ate later. I headed out for another long walk – I love that; every day is so interesting. Rain again tonight. I am sleeping well here – I think about 8 hours!!
Day 18 Tuesday, September 22, 2015
We walked around to the classrooms this morning and we now have a schedule for visiting each classroom. The school is primary; preschool to grade six. They are planning to build a secondary school here too. So many kids are hanging around the grounds not attending school, which is sad. Home responsibilities and lack of money in the families is the main reason, I believe. I read a John Steinbeck book today – my first. It was called Cannery Row. Interesting! I have my long solo walks in the afternoons. I am usually gone for about two hours. I meet so many interesting folk. Today I met five cute little kids from up in the hillside. They came running down to the road when they saw me. The only one dressed normally was the oldest girl, about twelve. The others were in rags, also naked, which is pretty normal. Tonight we had a special treat of plantain soup. It was delicious, probably my favorite meal so far. It is raining again tonight. We have many leaks in our dorm, and it makes us think about the roughly constructed homes people live in here. For sure they must leak. Apparently everyone, mom, dad, and the 6-10 kids all sleep right on the floor. No “Sleep Country” mattresses, and I doubt if they even have pillows!! It is a world so apart from us at home. I really miss being in touch with my family, as there is no wifi. The teenagers are texting, calling home with their phones. I really miss keeping in touch – I usually can when I am away, and I love my kids more than anything!! I miss being MOM to my own kids.
Day 19 Wednesday, September 23, 2015
This morning we did an exercise class, and Asher led the group. These kids are very fit. I did pretty well, and Agatha finished off with some yoga. We had two classes today. Fenel, the school principal, came by today, and we had a great chat with him. He lives in Cabaret, and is busy there with school policies, etc. The school is in desperate need of financial aid. It is quite a story; staff not being paid, etc. He feels sometimes like giving up and getting himself another job, but knows it would be a huge letdown to the community where he grew up. Arthur is here as the vice principal. I went for my walk from 5 pm – 7pm, and again a great adventure. ReadingThe Pelican Brief by John Grisham now: pretty interesting!
Day 20 Thursday, September 24, 2015
We have many chores here, one being carrying rocks up a hill for the new building, which seems to be progressing very slowly. It is going to be an additional dorm with an indoor toilet. Right now we use an outdoor one. No mention of an indoor shower, but honestly, the outdoor shower is fine!! I love it! It is SO hot here everyday, the best part of the day is when you get into the shower. It is pretty rudimentary, behind a plastic curtain, you have a pail of cold water, and you pour cupfuls over your head. Aah … it is heavenly!! Finally, you feel “cool”!! Teaching activities in the morning. School is from 8 am – 12:40 pm. In the afternoon, Asher, Max, and I set up the volleyball set that Max brought. The kids loved it! Trying to bat he ball over the net was challenging, but they had a lot of fun, and will only improve with time. We could not leave it set up, as they would wreck it, and we had used the soccer field, which is in use every day with impromptu soccer games. About 5 pm, the six of us, along with Jean-O, a really nice young man who works part-time on the construction here, headed out for a fantastic hike, way, way, way up to the top of the mountain – difficult terrain, but beautiful. So surprising when we got to the top there were several families and lots of kids there!  I feel certain they will never get to school.  Another great day!
 Day 21 Friday, September 25, 2015

I liked the eggs we had at breakfast this morning, but I am eating half of what I normally eat here, which isn’t such a bad thing, but I always feel “hungry” … like Sasha! We did our teaching assignments, had lunch, and while the others rested,I headed out for my daily walk. I decided to wear my newly purchased 2 dollar flip flops, as that is what the people traipsing up and down the road daily wear, if they have shoes! It was pretty difficult, and of course they are used to it. The road is in terrible condition!! Today two young boys joined up with me, and we chatted the best we could in Creole/English. I had my dictionary with me to look up the occasional word. I have not absorbed the Creole the way I should be, but I think it is because I know I am only here for three weeks, and I don’t plan to ever use Creole again! The boys were so sweet, one 12 and the other 13. They were friends.I thought they were continuing up the road, but they turned when I did. Our water was done, and it was so hot!! I saw a big rainbarrel by an empty building, so I got them to fill up my empty water bottle with the cool rain water and dump it on me and give me a shower!! They did the same to them selves. So fun!! All the kids have the most beautiful teeth. Up in the hillside here they don’t have access to sweets. It is incredible their white teeth and beautiful smiles. We are sitting around this evening chatting, reading, and playing cards with the kids; they love my Old Maid card game. First evening in many with no downpour.
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  1. Tracy Millar permalink

    Geez the lack of contact feels like you are in Survivor but without the million dollar prize. Get home!!!

  2. Denise :) permalink

    …and I thought “at least the kids would hear from mom”. Glad to receive news. ipads are replaceable. 🙂 “/

  3. Jackie Holzman permalink

    I am so very sad about the loss of your iPad…but your kids will understand. Be careful!


  4. Susan Wrightsell permalink

    Oh Kathy I am so sorry to hear about your iPad! !!!! I was worried because we hadn’t heard from you in awhile! I love reading about your adventures. Take care of yourself.

  5. Margaret Hurley permalink

    Hi Kathy

    What an experience! Too bad about the iPad. Unfortunately someone has access to all the email addresses that you had.

    We became grandparents last Sat. Sept. 19 to a beautiful boy Cole Gregory. He weighed 6lbs, 7 oz and was not due until Oct. 7. Family is adjusting well. He is a good baby.

    Take care. Look forward to reading about more adventures.

    Marg and Greg xox

    Sent from my iPad


    • Denise :) permalink

      Hi Marg: do ipads have security codes to get through before using?

      Congratulations on your new grand baby.

  6. Oh Kathy! I’m so glad you’re safe and happy to hear from you!!! I was thinking of you and worried, but figured your kids have your back! Now your blogs are back and that’s nice to see! I am sorry about your IPad, but I’m glad your ok! Your experience in Haiti is very sad to read ( with the children not having education) but I’m glad some of them get a chance to meet you and those wonderful young people you’re with!!! Maybe one day one of them will make a huge difference in place like this… I am sooo inyerested to know everythjng you’re eating there. Knowing thy rice and beans is a main meal and it doesn’t disqualify you as a visitor makes me feel grateful for our meals on our plates! For our dinner tonight we’ll have ice and beans. 🙂 you were already shaped up, after this visit you’ll be a ninja! 🙂
    Kathy, you’re a good woman!!! I will be thinking of you and waiting to here when you get home safely to your kids you miss so much. Xoxoxo

  7. Bryan Sadler permalink

    Sorry about your iPad Mom. Don’t worry!! Most importantly you are safe and sound. Love you and miss you TONS! You’re pictures should be on computer. Xoxo xoxo

  8. Janet Allan permalink

    Hi Kathy What an adventure you are having. I have enjoyed your blog and so sorry to hear that your ipad was stolen. I have not had much access to email but now we are home in Ottawa. Take care and look forward to seeing you soon. Janet

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