On the second day, breakfast was very filling with fried eggs, white bread, cassava bread (flat bread), yams, large apricots, mangos, and very sweet coffee. After breakfast I went to help wash dishes. They washed mounds of dishes outside all day long on a long table. Haitians enjoy being hosts so I found I really had to assert myself to help.
I was walking up a hill of dirt to get across the construction area and I totally wiped out! This ended up being the perfect thing to happen…it broke the ice with one lady! She said to me later, “Ou tonbe!” (You fell!) I started to laugh and then she started rolling with laughter. We connected! This was the beginning of our friendship and it provided an entrance into the workers club!
Another time I was able to help shell beans with them. I sat down next to the ladies and shelled and enjoyed listening to them speak back and forth with each other. Soon one started singing then they all jumped in and started singing. It was very enjoyable to just listen and watch. Even though they like to host they did seem to appreciate me making the effort to help and also understand their culture. They would always say to each other in Creole, “L’ap travay!” (She is working!)
How do they prepare food?
I really enjoyed watching the food being prepared. One “kitchen” was inside and one was outside, but there was so much to prepare they also cooked in several outside areas. Usually, they had other pots cooking over charcoal in the inside kitchen along with the outside pots over fires. Haitians work so hard. My eyes were opened to how long it takes to cook anything. And they stick together…they are like one big family working together. First they have to get the wood and get that fire going. Many of the young teenagers or young adults were either peeling fruit or vegetables or carrying the water.
The lunch that day was very good with rice with beans, millet, fried plantains and okra, mangos, abriko, and 7Up. After lunch I tried to help with dishes, but it didn’t happen so I went and watched the ladies cutting up goat meat and chopping spices for supper! Womens work is never done! Supper was delicious with rice and beans, goat, papaya, mango, and grapefruit juice.
What was it like hearing the Haitian language at full capacity?
It was a good challenge! We tried our best to listen and understand, but it was difficult unless they slowed down. They speak fast like we do and it is hard to catch the whole thing. Yes, many times we said in Creole, “Slow down.” Having an entirely Creole immersion gave us a better grasp of the everyday language and common expressions they use. The repetition was good for us. Many times they would stop talking and ask, “Konprann?” (Understand?) That was always a very difficult question for us to answer! They really wanted you so much to understand everything they were saying.
The area kids started dropping by after school. We played all sorts of games with them…just hanging out with the Haitian kids was very enjoyable. Then Madam Pasté took us for a walk across the road to see a few houses and introduce us to her neighbors. The kids followed along as we held their hands. It is always interesting to see how the Haitians live.