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  • Tom Stein

January 2020 Trip, Day 6


Today started way too early. Power went out, fans stopped, mosquitoes attacked. Mom got bit on the lip by something, so by six o'clock we were up. I was still awake from the first outage.


It was a quiet morning. Not the hussle and bussle of Port-au-Prince. Clouds are rolling in over the mountains and there is a nice breeze. Hurl is up and roaming the grounds. They are beginning to lay out the buffet breakfast. We are patiently awaiting the arrival of coffee.


Yesterday was a test of endurance. The drive took a lot out of us all. But dinner last night relaxed everyone. We drove across the street to a little cafe filled with locals watching crime shows with unsynced voice overs in creole.


We had another "I'd like," "No, not possible" episodes trying to ordering. Even after the menu is worked out, inevitably the server will return once or twice to change it. Supplies are still low all around the country. But with a few beers everyone relaxed and had a lively exchange. As is normal here food preparation took a while and we were all hungary. When I asked about bread, I got the "impossible" once again, but that was followed by small cups of Haitian peanuts. Just enough to tide us over.


Everyone began to tease Bellegarde who had ventured in first to see if we should eat there. But when the food came it was worth the wait. They also brought plates of fried plantains and fries, beet, carrot and tomato salad. That got Bellegarde back in everyone's good graces.


Today we hope to be able to see the Salesian school, which is less than a mile away. We will then travel down the coast to Cabaret and Leveque and finally back to Port-au-Prince and M25.


More later.

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We had a good meeting with the director of Cardinal Keeler Technique Ecole, the Salesian school in Gonaives. The school teaches auto repair, drafting, computer skills, typing, secretarial skills, culinary arts. They have 271 students who pay $250 per year tuition. Father asked if BonZeb could help out some of their students with tuition and the school with much needed tools, electronics and mechanics. We told him we would look into it.


Our chef this morning was a graduate of the school. The breakfast was good. After a short tour we are on our way to Arcahaie. There is a heightened anxiety level today as we pass through each town on the way. FanFan is trying to hurry us along this morning, not wanting to get back too late. So we might have to curtail our next few meetings. We will see.


More later.


Entering Cap Haitian we were surprised to see the rickshaw style tap-taps. The other thing we saw for the first time in Haiti was actual taxis. Sign and all. Cap is the second largest city in Haiti. The roads are nicer, there is more electricity and less garbage. We actually saw a small recycling plant by the sea. That is not to say there no garbage or plastic in the streets, just less. The climate is cooler, the trees greener, the cattle fatter, and the crops more lush.


The dichotomy is so transparent once back in the countryside you pass through community after community that seem poorer than their surroundings would lead you to believe. With the lush crops, abundant water, etc. How do they continue to subsist? Who actually profits from their labors? Thought: if those who work their land for a living, can not make a living, should we prosper from their labors?


Our day ended up with a tour of Joel Ducasse's farm, laboratories, fields, and his dreams. He reminds me of the nutty professor. He has a brilliant mind and is into a bit of everything. It's hard to keep up with his train of thought, but his conviction and enthusiasm are unmatched.


We had to cut the meeting short, at just two hours. He no longer has his steel turning machine, he sold it last year when he decided to add beef, goats, and mushrooms to his list of projects. Biogas cooking, biogas electric charging stations for electric motorcycles, a vetiver farm, hybrid plantains, organic crops, biowaste fertilizing, and oh so much more.


We drove down the coast to a regular little diner, Tricia and Nathan might remember the pizza. We had to dodge market crowds every few miles. But the food was good and we had a chance to meet up with Mel and talk a bit about the BonZeb farm in Leveque and his new Isuzu truck.


We made it to M25 and have the place to ourselves. That seems to be trend the last few visits.

Ran into Msgr. Pierre on our way in and his way out. He said he'd come back after his emergency visit. It's been 3 hours. I think I'll turn in and see him tomorrow.


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