…or how I spend my weekends.

Saturdays begin as every other day does: with the chickens. Sometime between 3 and 4 a.m. One-eyed Willy, my rooster, begins to crow and I’m relieved that the long and sleepless night is finally coming to an end. As soon as it is light I bring a large pitcher of water out to their little pen, fill their water trough and give them a big cup of their feed. If I’m running late, I hear about it. Recently one hen disappeared for a while and returned with about 10 baby chicks. That little wench, I thought, right under my nose! Those guys hop all over my feet until they’re fed. After they’ve eaten they take off to free range around the compound. At dusk they all return to their pen to roost as, apparently, chickens always come home to do.
At 8 I start my trek out to the Children’s Village where I give English classes to about 35 children. At 9 I teach the 10-11 year olds, at 9:30 the 12-13 year olds and at 10 the teens. It’s a lively two hours to be sure, but the adventure really begins on the mile and a half walk there. I pass through lots of neighborhoods in Anse-a-Galets hitting the countryside quiet of Baie Tortue–Turtle Bay–where the orphanage of Les Enfants des Jesu has a beautiful village for 80 children. Normally a white person walking around is subject to shouts of “blanc, blanc” which means “whitey.” It’s annoying but I turn a deaf ear. Sometimes kids ask for a dollar, which I never have. I’m sure by now they think I’m the poorest white person ever and they may soon have a fund raiser for me. But since I have been going out there each Saturday since last February, people are used to seeing me. Now I sometimes hear “bon jou” which is nice, or nothing, which is nicer. Once or twice I’ve heard people call me “Ayisyen” which means Haitian. That’s either a joke or a compliment. Lots of kids in town know me as “teacher Nancy” and will say hello and walk with me a bit. You get some street credibility if you are seen having a lengthy conversation with a Haitian, especially if some of it is in Creole, so I’m always grateful to run in to people I know.10620523_745768808834814_6785362340253732994_n-1
When I finish the lessons I pack up the chalk, paper, colored pencils and flashcards in my back pack and prepare to walk home. However, the 3, 4, 5 and now 6 year olds have decided they want a lesson too. The self-named “Katriyem Gwoup” (Fourth Group) is the most eager of all. By the time my back pack is zipped, 15 or 20 little peanuts are sitting at attention on the benches ready for the song or game they’ve been hearing to commence. Last Saturday they were so excited to have repeated every word of Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book that one little girl, in a fever pitch of enthusiasm, fell off her bench. Another little one got up at the same time and accidentally stepped on her. A third one fell over both of them.The thrill of “Left foot left foot, right foot right/ Feet in the day, feet in the night” ended in tears. I felt kind of  down about that until one little guy, Darlensky, came up to me, stuck his hand out and gave me a firm hand shake as he said, “samdi pwochen”–next Saturday. Yes indeed Darlensky. Looking forward to it.
Saturday afternoons are reserved for cleaning and laundry and Saturday nights are usually quiet. But last week I was thinking it would be nice to get in the Christmas groove and watch White Christmas, which I have on DVD. I hung a sheet on my back porch and invited my missionary neighbors over to watch Bing Crosby dance in drag with Danny Kaye on the “big screen.” I was surprised to find out how many others love this movie. During the final scene we all threw inhibition to the wind and joined in the chorus with Bing, Danny, Vera and Rosemary–a perfect song for a 90 degree haitian night.
Sunday mornings mean one thing for the people of La Gonave: church. Everyone goes and everyone is dressed up for it. Little boys are in suits with jackets or vests, girls in frilly dresses with lacy socks. Men and women are in their best pressed outfits. Singing is heard from every church and every other building is a church. Most services begin at 6 or 7 and last 2 to 3 hours. It’s a full morning. Haitians, employed or not, consider Sunday a true day of rest and after church the day is spent with family. In fact Sunday is often referred to as “fet”–holiday. Here at the mission when we have visiting medical or construction teams we spend Sunday afternoons at sea. By that I mean we take an old sailboat, The Wesleyana , out to the coral reef and swim or snorkel. I like to simply float in the buoyant brine and drift with the tide until Ti Met, the boat captain, says “n’ap soti”–we’re leaving. I know many of you think life is tough in Haiti. The roads are impassable; water and electricity are unreliable; typhoid, cholera and dengue fever are a constant threat. That’s all true. But true also is the tranquil sea and the mild sky of a brilliant haitian blue.1506926_741574202587608_4065601720634032002_n
Pase bon semen–have a good week and a better weekend. With love, Nancy
P.S. Last weekend I went to a wedding! Pictures and story to follow. These pictures are of Katriyem Gwoup, Ti Met at sea and on The Wesleyana with Decaid medical team.
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