Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Rat in My Closet

I came home one night and I'd accidentally left the balcony door open. This wasn't a big deal until I climbed the stairs to my room, flicked on the light and saw a rat run into my bathroom. Realizing that there was no escape for Mr. Rat except the way he came, I just stood and stared at the bathroom thinking, "There's a rat in my bathroom. There's a rat in my bathroom! THERE'S A RAT IN MY BATHROOM!".

Not only did Mr. Rat have access to my bathroom, but also my closet with the majority of my clothes. I closed the bathroom door. I opened the door, went in, and closed the door behind me. I got up on the counter and collected all the things I would need to get ready for church in the morning. I didn't see Mr. Rat, but knew he was there somewhere. I climbed back off the counter and escaped back out the door.

Then, I realized that I have a nice pair of leather shoes in my open closet that I didn't want Mr. Rat to feast on. So, I went back in and saw Mr. Rat run into a second part of the closet which didn't have much in it. I closed that door so he was trapped in the closet, grabbed my shoes and left the bathroom again.

Before going to church the next day, I stopped at the grocery store and bought some poison. I stuck it in my purse and carried it into church, so then it became holy rat poison. (Really I just didn't want to leave in the car baking in the sun.) When I got home, I made a paper cone to dump the poison into the closet then promptly closed the door and hoped for the best.

On Monday, my housekeeper, Joseph, was assigned the task of opening the closet door.

When I returned from work, Joseph told me he'd spent a "bon ti tan" ( a good while) chasing the rat around the bathroom until he was able to kill it. I didn't ask exactly where he'd killed it or how. I'm just glad it was dead and that I was going to move out of that house in the next two weeks.

The moral of the story is: Don't leave your balcony door open for small (or in this case rabbit-sized) critters to enter, and if you do, let someone else do the dirty work.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shot at the Caribbean

Just wanted to let you know I'm alright. I was shot in the Caribbean (grocery store) parking lot, but came away with only a very minor wound. It actually turns out to be quite positive because I'm now immunized against yellow fever....

So, the real story is that I needed a yellow fever immunization for entry into Mali this summer. (Yes, I'm travelling to Mali, Kenya and Tanzania!) So, I met up with the US Embassy nurse at the Caribbean parking lot who gave me a shot. So, it is true that I was shot in the Caribbean parking lot, but it was a needle and not a gun. I guess I could also say that I was shooting up in the Caribbean parking lot...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I'm Moving!

Yes, yet again- the fifth time in two years! This time, I hope to be in the same place for a while.

The house where I am now is way to big for me. The reasons I moved there in the first place was that: a) the house was available after the last person who was in my position left the country b) Joseph, my househelp/maintanance guy lives there with his family and was well-established in the community, so moving would mean he would have to find a new place to live too c) everything in the house belongs to my employer, so moving out meant moving tons of furniture and tons of stuff accumulated over 8 years at the same time as starting a huge new job.

But, now, it's time. My landlord has been a complete ass- telling Joseph that he has to pay rent which is ridiculous because I'm the one renting the property. The house is way too big for me. I only use half of it. I think its size has contributed to feelings of depression in some way because I'm so alone in that big house. Plus I've felt really guilty paying a bunch of money for a house I hardly use.

I'm very excited about the new place. I'm getting a great deal on rent- only $300/mo and the place is brand new. It has windows all the way around. I can have a roof garden and the rooms are small enough to be cozy. I've already met most of the neighbors and they are all very welcoming. In fact, yesterday when I stopped by to talk to the construction guy who is going to take out a wall for me, I ended up with 5 other people coming in to say hi!

Here are a few pics of the current house. I did some major painting, so I'm sad to have to leave all the hard work behind!

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's May!

It's May, so it must be time for a new post. I think I can acheive a minimum of one post per month!

I'm currently on vacation in Michigan also known as 'home'. I've gotten my fill of family this past week seeing everyone come together for my youngest sister's graduation from university. After the ceremony we all went out for dinner to celebrate. My sister could only swing reservations at the swankiest Italian restaurant in town. My family is NOT a swanky family. Hot dogs and beer are more the order of the day. Reading through the menu was a bit trying since there was no spaghetti or lasagna, and ravioli was a stretch for some of the family to understand. Anyway, we made it through to dessert which I was excited to have. My dear grandmother sitting next to me says, "Dessert? Oh yeah, you're a skinny girl....(then pats my hip)....Well, except for right here..." Thanks, Grandma!

Me with Grandpa and Grandma

Friday, April 13, 2007


Here I am back in Haiti and back to work. Bolivia was a great time. The bus adventure?? Well, the 10 hour trip out to Moro Moro went well. The trip back was another story. The bus left Moro Moro an hour late on Saturday (10 am) and arrived in Santa Cruz at noon on Sunday. Twenty -six delicious hours of me on a bus with no bathroom and lots of people with body odor. It wasn't too horrible. Compared to being on a bus in Haiti, I'll take the one in Bolivia any day. When the sun set and before it came up again I did some squatting by the road side. Luckily, I had the forsight to bring some TP.

The reason for the long ride was mudslides. I now understand what mudslides really are when they talk about them in the news. Masses of mud, rock and whole huge trees covered the road and blocked any hope of getting to Santa Cruz in a timely manner. We had to sit, along with hundreds of other busses, tractor trailers, and cars and wait for the mud to be cleared by bull dozers.

Not only were there mudslides, but several times I thought the sticky oozing mud on the roads would carry us over the road side cliffs. When I would look out the bus window and NOT see the edge of the road I decided to just look the other way and hope for the best. Let's just say I was happy to get off. And, I was told that sometime people get stuck on that road for weeks!!

I did come up with a few ways to express how long I was on the bus:
1. I was on the bus long enough to meet a nice guy. We'll be getting married next month.
2. I was on the bus long enough to now speak Spanish and Quechi fluently.
3. I was on the bus long enough that the other passengers are now fluent in English and Kreol.
4. I was on the bus long enough to shear the sheep hanging off the back of the bus and knit a sweater.

Despite the agony of the ride, I did have an angel with me. The woman in the next seat travelling with two kids kinding shared bread and peaches and juice with me the morning after sleeping scrunched up on a bus seat. I was very touched by her kindness.

Pictures to come....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Estoy en Bolivia

As I wrote last time, I've been crazy busy. Right now I'm sitting in Santa Cruz, Bolivia far far away from the office and my responsiblities in Haiti. It's great! I have time to breath and post to my blog. So, over the next week or so, I'll be posting lots of info about the past couple months because I actually have time to do it!!

To the most pressing question---why Bolivia? The real answer is work. I'm here for regional meetings which will take place all of next week, but I came a bit early to visit some programs here that are similar to what we are doing in Haiti.

I was not so excited about coming- mostly because I didn't want to pack and I was not looking forward to the overnight flight smushed into economy class. The forces that be also threw up a few road blocks to make getting here a bit of a challenge.
1. President Preval did not follow the recent time change, so now we are in Haiti Standard Time. My assistant realized this might mess up my flight times, but alas everything there went according to plan.
2. Hugo Chavez (president of Venezuela) decided to visit Haiti. This caused two roadblocks. First, there was a demonstration outside the airport that was on the verge of violence causing a huge traffic jam. Second, Chavez decided to land his plane when my plane was to be leaving causing a significant delay.

But, I'm here now without any major incidents. Tomorrow I'm heading to an area called Moro Moro, which is somewhere out in the country side. I'll be taking the bus; but, this could be a bit of an adventure. Last week someone from the organization attempted twice to take it. There were mudslides and he ended up turning around on the bus the first time, and walking 12 hours the second. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I've Been Busy

I've been so crazy busy. This can be verified by the contents of my refrigerator-- beer and butter. Until yesterday. I bought some vegetables to way lay the guilt of my overloaded schedule.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


No, not the pipe- the club-- Petionville Club. Every Wednesday night they have a happy hour which stretches into the happier hours. (The crowd really shows up around 8 or 9). Last night I went with my neighbor, Pam. At one point she said to me, "You see that short guy with the short hair? I think I know him from somewhere." Considering that we were swimming in a sea of short men with short hair, the comment was a bit comical.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Petite Goave

Allo Mes Amis!

This past weekend I went with the Port-au-Prince team for an outing to Petite Goave on Haiti's southern peninsula. The trip was fantastic and I'd encourage anyone with an open weekend to take a trip there. The hotel, Relais du l'Empereur (or something close to that) was Emperor Faustin's place of residence while he reigned in Haiti. In the 1970s and 80s it was a posh hotel for the jet set from France and the US.

The hotel is on Petite Goave's main square, but the associated beach, Cocoyer Plage, is an hour-long boat ride away (or 30 minutes in a power boat). But, worth the ride! Here are a few pics to tempt you to this little jewel in the Caribbean.

The hotel has 10 bedrooms, all with king-size four poster brass or mahogany beds. Every room except two have luxurious bathtubs and all the bathroom fixtures are gold-plated. Every room also has a balcony with a view facing the ocean or the mountains. One of the other impressive things is the stairway. Huge steps lead up the three flights of stairs to the bedrooms. It's good exercise, but well worth the climb!

This is a view of Cocoyer Plage. Gorgeous white sand and aqua water!

Guylene, Kurt and me drinking coconut water.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


One of my fears is electrocution. It ranks somewhere near death by fire. I thought I might experience both of these last night when the cord to a light that is connected directly to my inverter batteries began smoking....and melting ..... and letting off sparks.

This is what happened:
1. It was raining.
2. I tried to close the window.
3. The cord that is looped through the window and the fer forge had been rubbed to the bare wire over the past ??? years.
4. The bare wire connected with the metal window frame and the fer forge causing smoke and sparks.
5. I freak out.
6. I rip the light off the cord so it is no longer connected.
7. The smoke and sparks continue.
8. I turn off the invertor and search for the handy magnetic flashlight my friend Bridget gave me.
9. I run around my house frantically searching for something to touch the cord to move it away from the metal.
10. I can't find anything suitable in my state of panic, so I move the cord with my hand. I am not dead.
11. Smoke subsides but there are still sparks.
12. I call my neighbor Tim. He is at the Vervloets, so I end up talking to Stephan, a mechanical wizard.
13. He tells me I have to disconnect the wire from the invertor batteries.
14. I unpadlock the fer forge door to go outside, but can't find the key for the lock on the battery cage.
15. I find it. I stand in rainwater as I unlock the cage and listen to Stephan tell me what I'm supposed to do.
16. I don't understand what he's saying except, "Don't touch one one of the two connections because it will shock you", and "You must disconnect it or the short will drain the batteries".
17. Tim is coming home, so he will come disconnect it.
18. Thirty minutes later he arrives (its still raining).
19. He looks everything over and yanks the wires off the battery with a few, "Are you sure this is the right one?" questions.
20. The situation is resolved. The invertor works. I am not electrocuted, nor did I die by fire.

I'm adding 'must know about electrical stuff' to my list of qualifications for a good husband.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Ah, to be single and not responsible for anyone else's eating habits! Last night in the 10 minutes I was home between work and Bible study, I supped on 6 peices of pepperoni and a grenadia flavored yogurt.

I did take a loaf of apple bread that I'd made with me to share at Bible study; it was a nice supplement to the pepperoni and yogurt.

Now, you know, if I were male and single in this country someone would have made a real meal for me. I know because it has happened to several single men I've known over the years here.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Year's

Wow! I can't believe someone, let alone several someones are still looking at my blog. I figured everyone had given up on it because I never post! Thanks for hanging in there!

I had a fantastic New Year's doing absolutely nothing. I spent four days in Jacmel with Ana and her fiance and soon to be in-laws. Did I say it was fabulous? Because it was! We watched movies (which I haven't done in months). We went to the beach (which I haven't done in months). We spent New Year's Eve at a party given by Jacmel's mayor (which I haven't done in months--- okay, never.) And a new first-- driving around with the gwo police chef patrolling the city. I was given the official tour of Jacmel by none other than the Director of Police for the Southeast Department himself. Here's two pics of my New Year's Holiday. One of the beach where we were on the last day of the year and one of Valine (sister-in-law), Ana, myself, and Sonny (fiance to Ana and gwo chef).

The only stress the whole trip was trying to get back. I'd chosen to fly since it was only $55 for a round trip ticket and the trip was only 17 minutes compared to three hours in the car. I made reservations the week before, paid when I arrived at the airport and asked to verify my return trip. The lady behind the counter said she couldn't confirm it....okay. So when trying to leave on Wednesday to come back, we called ahead to verify my name was on the passenger list. Nope, it wasn't. Of course. We went to the airport since Ana was on the same flight, but was confirmed and wanted to double check my name, too. If there wasn't room, I wouldn't be able to come back to Port until the next day. Lo and behold, my name was not on the list and they said the flight was booked, but Dave Carwell happened to be there with a MAF plane! I hopped aboard, paid by $30 and was back in Port before my original flight.

When Ana's flight arrived, there were only 7 passengers! Oh, well. I still have a flight that I can use to or from Jacmel in the future, which means I just HAVE to go again!