In most aspects of my life, I would not consider myself to be a patient person but life here demands it. In preparing for this trip, my loved one told me to be patient with Haiti, its people and myself. I found the first week to be full of indicators of my impatience causing melodramatic ups and downs.
A day in the life of my first week looks a little something like this…
I wake up at 7:30 a.m. unless of course my ear plugs have fallen out, then I wake up at 6ish depending on the neighborhood roosters whose wake up calls I constantly underestimate. I’m excited to start a new day. I settle myself, make a trip to the bathroom, call out my round of “Bonjours” and then return. I hear Luna ring the school bell at 8 a.m. and know that soon Michele will arrive with my breakfast; a banana, bread and coffee. I eat then head to the shower. I grab my trusty blue bucket and head to the faucet outside to fill it. The clear cold water fills to the brim and I make my way back. I have a whole ingenious process for getting myself ready for the cold water. I’ll spare you the details but jumping jacks are involved. I shower. I feel great. Clean and awake, I return to my room. My mom gave me a 5x magnification mirror and I take a quick glance. Yikes, definitely not a necessity on your packing list. I obediently put broad spectrum sunscreen on my face even though I’m already sweating. I’m ready for work and hop online. In my race against my natcom credit (my Internet system) I hurriedly copy /paste all the emails I’ve received into a word document without reading them. I don’t like feeling rushed. I’m annoyed. I Disconnect. Click “safetly remove hardware”. Unplug. Yes! Take that natcom credit.
At about 1 p.m., when I know school is about to finish, I step outside to flip the sign I made in Haitian Creole to, “Silans Souple” (Silence Please) from, “Pran ak de bra” (Welcome with open arms). My eyes try to readjust. My room is dark. Electricity here is off and on…literally. I wanted to read but will need to wait until I have more light. Instead, I write my email responses in word. My computer battery is almost out and I can’t recharge it. I change tasks again. I practice self-assigned words of the week in Creole. I’m frustrated. Why am I not absorbing the language faster? I can’t remember certain words. The electricity comes on. I read some of the citizen sector literature I brought. I write down daily notes and ideas. I’m happy. I have some ideas that could work and am excited about the possibilities. I notice it’s already 5 p.m. so I emerge to see the gang.
I’m smiling. Each kid has such a unique personality. They are all such characters. I’m laughing with the kids as we play impromptu games. I feel so blessed. But then night falls, I return to my room to find that ants have infiltrated my heavy duty Ziploc bag, they’ve outsmarted me again and I get frustrated. In that moment I notice it’s hot and I’m sweating… still. I feel gross. How is it that ants can undo me? That makes me feel even more discouraged. I glance at my to-do list. I haven’t changed anything today. In fact I’m just more aware of what I need to change in myself. I miss my family, my boyfriend, my friends. Grrrr. There’s a knock on my door even though my “silans souple” sign is up. I reluctantly open it to find one of the girl’s with my towel that had been drying in the sun. “Mesi,” I force a smile. She stands there staring at me. This has become commonplace. What does she want!? She sways from side to side with a half smile. “Oui?” I ask. “Mwen renmen ou,” (I love you) she replies. My frustration melts away. I am humbled.
That’s all I need to remind me that on some days I won’t be able to impress anyone with my to-do list check marks or accomplishments. The kids just ask for my love, patience and a lot of play time. For some reason (ok reason being my ego) I struggle at times with how little is required of me on any given day. The irony is that I find even the little requirements challenging on some days. So, as will probably be the case for life, I continue to learn to practice patience…patiently.