Saturday, December 30, 2006


Hey, hey! It's December 30 and I finally found the camera cable! Isn't she cute?

This picture was actually taken just a couple weeks ago, but at least I'm posting something. I also caught a couple of Kalin with Joy, her mother and my sister. I found it slightly amusing that they have the same type of look on their face in both photos.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Auntie Char

I'm an aunt! Who knew that my youngest sister would fulfill everyone's wish for a great-grandchild, grandchild, etc. At least the pressure is off for a while!

I'm home now meeting my adorable niece, Kalin Joy. I'll post a picture once I find my camera cable.

This trip is also vacation. For the last two days I've taken walks with my mom. Tonight I noticed some striking resemblances to Haiti--

dirt road
barking dogs
gun shots

Okay, so the road was flat with no pot holes, the dogs were friendly pets and the gun shots were from a shooting range (did I mention this is in Michagan, home of the infamous Michigan militia?)'s amazing how things can be so similar, but strikingly different.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Irony of It All

A few months ago before I became chief, I worked at another organization, let's call it Org X. A second organization (Org Y) that had been involved in some of our work was interested in hosting an event in Haiti similar to the one that Org X hosted in the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, our budget at Org X was overstretched and we did not have funds to share for a new event. Despite this, I thought the event would be a good one and wanted to help Org Y put something together. Because of my contacts at Org X, I wrote several letters looking for funding for Org Y. One person in Org Z wrote back and said they were interested in the event.

I set up a meeting; the contact between Org Y and Org Z was made. In the meeting it was decided that Org Z would finance the event. Fantastic! I felt great. Because I helped facilitate, the Director of Org Y offered me tickets to the concert that would be held on the final night of the event. Since I had 2 friends visiting from the States and 2 other mutual friends that were all hanging out together for this past weekend, I asked for 5 tickets which I received for free.

The evening came and went. It was a very nice time. Everyone enjoyed it....I thought. The next day, one of my friends who lives here in Haiti was very upset with me because I hadn't let her pay for the tickets. She felt I was trying to show her up. She said that she has money and she could have paid for her own ticket and everyone else’s'. Of course, there's a lot more to this little conflict, but this is the relevant part to this story. The thing is that I didn't pay for the tickets! I was given them for free, but she wasn't willing to listen to my explanation.

On Monday, I received a phone call from the director of Org Y. Apparently, Org Z has failed to come through on paying for the event and she was wondering if I could do anything. What is it about money and Haiti.....makes me want to not get out of bed in the morning. Maybe I'll just move to the beach, set up a little subsistence garden and live happily by the sea until a hurricane comes.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


It's been a while since I've posted...partly due to huge life changes including a significant job change. I've had a post composed for quite a while, but I needed a catalyst to push me to post. That catalyst was Miss De's blog (who is currently visiting) and writing about it.

So, here it is from a few weeks ago...

Adventures in America

I’ve found that my life over the past few years has been a story about moving. Moving myself from place to place and moving my Stuff from place to place, although often not the same place that I move myself. The most recent moving episode is transporting my Stuff from Lexington to Memphis while I remain living in Haiti. The funny part is that eventually my Stuff (taking on it’s own life) will end up in Washington State while I still live in Haiti. So, while I have never lived in Tennessee or Washington, my Stuff will have resided both places. (This is because my Stuff now lives with my brother who moves around with the Navy.)

This week I found myself driving a U-Haul truck for seven hours across Kentucky and Tennessee. The U-Haul people first made me pay nearly an arm and a leg for ME (and a few very faithful friends!) to load, drive and unload my own belongings and then the U-Haul people tried to scare me from inside the cab of the truck with warning signs posted everywhere. “SPEED KILLS!” “Watch out for low overhangs!” “Wear your seatbelt—SPEED KILLS!” I didn’t hit any overhangs and I went slow enough to be passed by just about every vehicle on the road. So, congratulations to me for driving an overpriced U-Haul truck for seven hours to Tennessee, a place I’ll probably never live in, but my stuff will.

This newest adventure was part of my semi-annual-moving-about-the-US vacation. This isn’t intentional it’s just that all my friends and family have conspired against me to live as far apart as possible. Okay, so I’m partly to blame by choosing to live outside the US all together. So far, I’ve hit Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Illinois although the first two and the last were just the airports. By the time I’m done I’ll add Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York to the list.

This morning my brother dropped me off at 6 am at the Memphis airport, I checked my bags curbside and I proceeded to the gate—C13. I walked down the C corridor and came to a split. To the left was C1to C12 to the right C14 to C 22. No C 13! A cruel joke? The newest version of airport hell? Wandering around looking for your gate and never finding it? I re-examined my ticket. Hidden in an obscure corner of the ticket C22 was listed as the gate. So, I hadn’t had my coffee yet….

Once on board, there were tons of seats, so I plopped myself down in an empty seat, which happened to be in the exit row. There are several good things about exit rows. First, you have lots of leg room and…. well, you have lots of leg room. There is a drawback in the fact that you might be held responsible for getting people out of the plane alive, but really, the benefit of extra leg room far outweighs that possibility. I hope. (Just don’t think about it while typing your blog from 25,000 feet while sitting in the exit row.)

I did, however, discover another small issue with sitting in the exit row. It’s called the faulty, oh-so-inadequate window shade. This was especially obvious when the 7 a.m. sun was shining so brightly. Unlike most window shades that pull down, the exit row shade pulls up and then only half way. This renders the shade practically useless unless one is trying to block out views of terra firma (which is generally obscured by clouds anyway) or the plane happens to be flying above the sun (somehow this seems unlikely). Ah, the joys of travel!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Chicken Adventures

I know the following is pre-return to Haiti material, but it was just too good not to share when I ran came across it in my computer files:

Hey, Baby, got a chicken bone?

Okay, so my life isn’t quite as exciting as it used to be in Haiti- no run-ins with policemen at 2 in the morning or breaking down in the Mothership (Toyota Land Cruiser). But, my summer in Kentucky has its own adventurous anecdotes.

After sitting on my backside for the past nine months reading thousands of pages and typing zillion page papers for grad school, I thought a little exercise would do me good. I started walking a three and a half mile route and much to my chagrin, I am the object of catcalls and horn honks every time I venture out. My sister says I get their attention because I’ve got “junk in my trunk”, since most of the attentions stems from local minorities who happen to appreciate women’s backsides. The other day a car was pulling out of a driveway as I was about to cross. The driver let me cross, then out his window said, “Baby, I don’t know why you’re doing that. You don’t need to walk.” I gave him a funny look, and then he drove off. Now, does that mean a) You don’t need to walk. I could give you a ride. b) Why don’t you ride the bus? It goes right by here. Or c) (my personal favorite) Baby, you’re body is so hot you don’t need to exercise!

Today I went to a plasma lab to try and sell some of the stuff running through my veins. I thought I could make enough cash to at least pay for gas this weekend when I go to visit Shannon. To be eligible, I had to pass a blood test and physical, pee in a cup and all that fun stuff. Unfortunately, my blood pressure was too low. It was only 87/53. It had to be at least 100 for me to donate. Apparently I haven’t done a good enough job clogging my arteries. Lessons to be learned: stop exercising, eat more chocolate and ice cream.

After having my plasma rejected, I stopped at Office Depot to send a fax. I locked my keys in my car a few weeks ago (one of those bright moments I had) and I needed to send a fax to my motor club to get a reimbursement. Getting out of the car I noticed a stick stuck in the crevice between the windshield and the hood of the car. I pulled it out and noticed something on the passenger side, too. I walked around the car and saw not a stick, but a chicken bone! Someone had eaten a spicy-barbequed chicken leg and somehow the bone ended up on my car! That’s never happened to me even in crazy-never-know-what’s-going-to-happen-next Haiti. Lessons to be learned: expect the unexpected and periodically check your car for chicken bones.

Those are my stories for now. I am having a great summer sleeping in until 10 everyday and lazily reading or sitting by the pool. Not working regularly does make the money issue a bit difficult, but I’m learning to trust God for EVERYTHING and just enjoy where I am at the moment. Life really is good when you’re content with where you are.

Life is a wonderful adventure!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

From Peon to Chief

They say power changes people. I've noticed more not in how I act since aquiring my new job as Representative, but more in how other people treat me. I don't like to tell people what I do until they ask. When people find out what my position is something changes in their eyes. I'm suddenly accorded a certain amount of respect and asked for a lot more things!

This is my last week at the old job. Today the office gave me a good bye lunch. They announced on Monday they would do it today, so around lunch time I was famished. My boss went down to check on progress in the kitchen and they told him they decided to do it tomorrow when he wouldn't be here! He thought someone might have just been pulling his leg, so he had me call down. They said it wouldn't be ready until 2:30!! (So, really, the cooks hold all the power in this office!) I'd been smelling delicious food cooking all morning and there was no way I could wait another hour and a half, so my boss and I went out for burgers (Delice Burgers, for those of you who know them!). We came back to the office and around 3 the food was finally ready. Both of us were still full from burgers and fries, but to be funny, by boss served me the first heaping plate of food and he just served himself dessert. So, there I was stuck with a second lunch. There wasn't anyway I couldn't be nice and eat some so I choked down have the plate.

I'm slightly sad to be leaving this office, but am really looking forward to starting the new job Monday. I even get a new car to drive! Ah, the perks!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Guilty Age

It's been a while, I know. I feel shamelessly guilty that I can't write a post every once in a while! Lots of life has happened since my last appearance here. I had a little accident driving down a mountain from a friends house. The truck started to fish tail on a slippery slope. I was going too fast (back to the guilty part) and I had to choose nose-diving into a ravine or hitting the side of the mountain. I went for the mountain and knocked two teeth loose on the steering wheel. Again, guilty for not wearing my seatbelt on the 5 minute journey home. But, that's what they say, right? Most accidents occur close to home.

The whole knocking-the-teeth-loose experience enabled me to to visit the dentist! I got a recommendation from someone else that knocked their teeth lose and went to see the cutest doctor I've met. So, the experience has had its upside! The office is also very nice with computorized x-rays, blue walls, classical music and a digital wall clock. I mention the clock because just yesterday when I was in for my fourth check-up with the cute dentist I noticed the date on the clock-- 5-22-- and thought to myself," Hmm, only 7 more months until I'm 30." Just the kind of experience I like to have-- sitting in a dentist's office, wondering if I'll need a root canal and thinking about my age!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What Day Is It?

If there's one thing I don't need more of, it's a calender. Haitians are fascinated with them. I find this slightly ironic because Haitians are known for being late. I guess the preoccupation with calenders may at least enourage them to only be late within a 24 hour period.

So far, I've received wall calenders from a bank, a tire store, a coffee project, a cell phone company and my own office administration. These don't include the ones I received from my own grandmother and my organization's headquarters in the States. I also have a desk calender from the above mentioned bank. It's early March and they are still rolling in. Maybe by the end of the year I'll have a nice collection- to do what with, I'm not sure. If nothing else, I definately don't have an excuse for not knowing what day it is!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

On the Other Side

Life in the Third World is always full of surprises- some to do with lack of understanding others with lack of organization or communication. On Sunday I hopped across the border to the Dominican Republic. Just over the border our small 16 passenger plane started to descend. I knew we were no where near Santo Domingo yet and wondered why we were descending. Plane trouble? Did I get on the wrong flight? Were we being taken as hostages in the latest antagonistic move between Haiti and the DR? Of course, the pilots said nothing.

We landed at a small airport in Barahona. The place seemed new, but deserted. Turns out that the Dominican authorities moved the customs office to Barahona in an attempt to get more business there and to force air companies out of the airport in Santo Domingo, which is in the process of being closed. The good thing about the unexpected stop was that it was much less hectic than going through customs in Santo Domingo and I wasn’t asked to pay a tourist tax. Maybe I was supposed to pay it, and I’ll end up being thrown in tourist jail when I try to leave. We’ll see.

I’ll be here in Santo Domingo for two weeks studying Spanish. (Language number 4—I’m starting to wonder how much space I have left on the hard drive in my brain.) During that time I’ll be on an all carb and coffee diet- not necessarily by choice. Since I’m staying with a Dominican family I’m at their mercy for two meals a day which have so far consisted of bread, cereal and pasta. I’ve also been served coffee wherever I go. I’m hopeful that drinking four or five rich cups of coffee per day with lots of local sugar is somehow medicinal.

In the meantime, it’s nice to escape Haiti for a bit and become familiar with another countries joys, problems and surprises.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The New President

Yesterday morning at 6:30 am I awoke to thousands of people marching down my street chanting Preval's name. (I have digital video to prove it!) Sometime while I was sleeping Rene Preval was declared President. I'm baffled that it took over a week to tally votes and they still didn't finish counting, yet the commission to investigate the count made a decision in less than 24 hours on how to award the presidency. On one hand I can't blame them. They had to act fast to avoid further deterioration of the situation, but on the other hand it does seem a bit fishy. What they decided to do was divide the blank votes among the candidates according to the percentage of votes each candidate already had. To justify it, they found a loophole in Haitian law-- or rather, there's no law that says they can't do it.

I do have a great sense of relief that this crisis is over. I was getting tired of being stuck in my house and counting supplies to make sure we had enough to last how ever long we might need them. Two sacks of rice, check. Fifteen gallons of drinking water, check. Matches and toilet paper, check. It gets tiring really fast! There are other little questions that nag on the mind, too, such as will I have enough minutes on my cell phone? Can I buy more and where since all the stores are closed? (Since all minutes are prepaid) If I have to evacuate what will I take?

But for now, I'm back at work and things appear to be getting back to Haitian normal. There's already word that some people aren't happy with the way the election was decided, but there's always people who aren't going to be happy. Let's hope they don't cause too much of a ruckus so that Preval can establish his government and bring some stability and security to this country.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Haitian Scandal

What would Haiti be without a scandal? I've been roosting in my house for the past three days as people demonstrated in the streets. In this instance roosting includes baking cookies, quilting and studying Spanish. I did take a bit of a walk in the streets to see what the demonstrations were all about.

Near my house is a major intersection which was barricaded with random bits of whatever was available-- campaign signs, car frames, tree branches. It's interesting until you realize that you are standing around watching people watching other people. Many demonstrations here are done out of sheer boredom or the fact that someone is paying for it to happen.

Other demonstration areas were a bit more exciting including the debacle at the Montana Hotel. The Montana is usually considered to be a reprieve from the chaos, but not this past Monday. Crowds of people pushed their way in, were running around the hotel, jumping in the pool and otherwise causing chaos. The humorous part for me is that Desmond Tutu happened to be staying there as well as most of the international press and other significant VIPs. Some were air lifted off the roof, but Desmond apparently stuck it out in his room. Welcome to Haiti.

Things got really interesting last night (Tues, Feb 14) when television cameras filmed people in the city dump holding up ballots alleged to have been tossed out. Of course, the ballots they found were votes for Preval, who is leading the polls, but doesn't have the majority of votes to avoid a run-off election. There are two possibilities- first, the ballots are valid and were in fact thrown out or second, they were extra ballots that weren't used at the polling stations, had been thrown out and someone decided to mark them and call them real. Both scenarios are entirely plausible. The second is likely because there were hundreds of unused ballots left over that had been signed by the election workers (they were required to do so before the voting began). The deciding factor will be if the ballots had been folded in four, which they were supposed to be and in fact had to be in order to fit in the ballot boxes. In any case, the whole situation has caused an uproar and simply added to the chaos.

Surprisingly, there is less tension and fewer demonstrators on the streets today. On Monday and Tuesday they demonstrated because the final results hadn't been posted yet and there were accusations of 'magouy' (scheming, twisting) the election results. There were even announcements of candidates contesting the results before final results have even been posted!

At any rate, things are likely to become more interesting as time goes on. It looks like chaos, confusion and personal interests will continue to be major players in Haiti's near future. If you don't hear from me for a few days it's likely that I'm busy sitting in my house waiting out the chaos!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Haitian Elections

I spent February 7 knitting and playing x-Box. I did make it to the pool to sip a fruit punch, too. Admittedly, these probably aren't normal Election Day activities. Other people were voting to change the direction of their country. Since I wasn't eligible to vote anyway, I don't feel guilty.

Despite the gross unorganization of the elections, here are a few positives that I heard from first hand observers or saw for myself:

1. A few policemen put on their uniforms and patrolled the streets and election areas even though they weren't required to work. They were able to bring order to more than one line of waiting voters and helped ease tensions amongst the impatient.
2. The director of a school acted as a responsible citizen by posting signs for voting booths to smooth organizational problems and by using his own diesel to run a generator so that there would be light for voters and election workers.
3. As has already been widely reported, there was a massive turnout from all social classes. Some of my friends were amazed that so many upper class people took the time to stand in line with everyone else to have their vote counted.

All of these examples remind me that it is the action of individuals that can make a positive difference. We each have choices to make everyday on which actions we will take.

Now for the cynical part....
"Pa enkiet' ou. Yo pral tou'l kand menm." There are people who want Preval and others who don't. Yesterday I overheard the previous quote from someone who was telling her mother not to worry. "If Preval is president, they'll probably kill him anyway." Unfortunately, with Haiti's history this is more likely than not. Let's hope and pray that the democratic system will be allowed to work. This country needs a bit of stability for a while so that processes of development can actually work. Without a central authority and local officials to appeal to and to work with communities, development work is stuck in the mud spinning its wheels. And for Haiti, those wheels have been spinning for quite a while.

Monday, February 06, 2006

It's the day before Haitian elections (finally) and everyone is holding their collective breath. Will this be the turning point or just another noted point in the free fall? The observers are here with their plastic ID cards hanging from their necks, the press corps is perched on the balcony of the Montana Hotel and the US diplomatic contingent is armed to the teeth. Tomorrow I'll be sitting at the Kinam next to the pool while everyone else frets about the elections-- although you wouldn't believe how many people (Haitians included) who asked if and for who I would be voting! Hello! I thought they were tired of American/foreign intervention!

It's the crazy events like this that have pushed me to start this blog (and a little prodding from Bridget- credit where credit is due!). I hope you'll come back often and check in on the happenings that make my life exciting to live. Until then....