Update Cinco from Travis

New Update from Travis:

Yeah, Yeah, they speak French/Creole here, not Spanish. Whadayah whun a do? Fight dabout it? (He’s referring to him using Spanish for his update title.)

All right, not much as changed here since last I wrote, so this is just a bunch of small stories or quips I thought I’d put on paper.

In America, we have extremely strict safety standards and practices to stifle work getting done as much as possible (sorry dad). Here, however, the locals seem to do just fine with zero safety considerations. Buses are jacked up on tires or haphazardly stacked cinder blocks so the driver can get underneath to change a tire or fix a transmission with an old rice bag and some spit. People drive as fast as possible, and the locals, including very young (like 3-4 years old!) children walk all over the streets. The kids play in the sewers and with broken glass and bazookas and stuff. Stuck in traffic, we watched a guy, on of the second story of a building, take a sledgehammer and slam it against the very concrete ledge he was standing on. Albeit, it had rebar inside, and he was knocking the concrete off, but I’m watching hit this thing, and the whole foot-wide by ten-foot long piece is just bouncing up and down. Now, they have some kind of love for rebar here, and often it’s the smooth kind. Which doesn’t stick to anything very well. Especially when bouncing up and down and getting hit with a sledgehammer. To his credit, he did not fall while I was looking.

Speaking of rebar… everyone wants it for some reason. They drag it behind bikes and cars and on carts and put it on their heads. They spend hours in the sun, breaking it out of the concrete rubble. And not just the nice straight pieces either. All the gnarly, pretzel shaped pieces too. I don’t think anyone here is melting it down or paying for it, and I have yet to see any shack built with it, so what’s the deal? Oh, and by the way, 15 pieces of rebar dragging along the road behind a bike or a car is a VERY annoying sound!

These little taxi cars (tap-taps) and buses have a lot of English words written on them and paintings of 50 cent, Jesus, Sampson, random women/men, 2 Pac… I saw one that had in English, and I quote, “Jesus is my sheep helper.” Credit for trying, I guess.

We had this scrawny little dog around here for a while, who we named Toby. Nice dog. Didn’t want to play fetch in the slightest. We’re not allowed to have pets or feed wildlife and blah, blah, blah but someone got him a flea collar. I accidentally dropped an MRE “beef patty” on the ground, and this starving dog wouldn’t eat it. In fact, he made it a point to get up and go lay down some where else. That doesn’t say much for the MRE.

I have this fully enclosed mosquito net bed, which is really awesome, because there is no where for the little bugger to get in, unless they happen to slip in while you are zipping it closed. So you’ll be laying there, imagining what air conditioning feels like, when all of a sudden you hear, or god forbid, feel, a mosquito. Your eyes pop open, and if the light’s on, you may see the little monster flying about, somehow magically in your “safe zone.” You spend the next 10 mins. smacking the air, trying to end it’s life or at least scare it out of your bed, because if you don’t, that one tiny mosquito will find 36 different places on your body to suck blood from. I swear they simply spit it out, because there is no way they can eat the much. So if you hear people clapping in the middle of the night, don’t think you are missing out on something worth clapping for (such as a good speech or someone tripping for no apparent reason).

Note to anyone sending care packages to someone in a hot climate: Things that are chocolate will melt. Summer sausage is great, if you can get it to them in a day or so. A week or two in transit, no matter how well wrapped in paper, will turn that log of meat into a rancid pipe bomb. Toys and trinkets and gag gifts are funny and cool when you buy them, but we don’t have anywhere to put them or really any use for them. We can’t hand them out to children. They just end up in the trash. The thought is there, just keep it simple. Send ice-cream! Please send cold beer, popsicles, steak, 15 Hooter waitresses with plates of boneless wings, a hot air balloon and a snow ball while you’re at it. (Our mail service has stopped, so thank you, but I don’t need anything. Seriously. Except the snowball!)

Speaking of ice cream, I heard this statement concerning contractors working in the Pentagon and making decisions regarding use of government funds: “They are just licking their own ice cream cone.” I thought it was funny and yet so, so sad.

There is an amazing amount of painters here. All over the streets you’ll see paintings hung to sell. I don’t know where they get the paint, but the canvas is whatever cloth they can find. Some paintings are really good. If anyone has a nautical theme, there is a really nice sailboat painting here. Or a naked woman. I think I’ll put that one in my bathroom or above the TV.

The kids make these hexagon shaped kites out of sticks and plastic (trash basically), with tails made of plastic as well. They fly them all over the place in the camps, with the almost constant breeze here always keeping them aloft. Pretty neat thing to see. Something innocent and normal and fun. You also see a lot of them caught in the power lines. Oops!

We set up this whole perimeter of triple strand razor wire and floodlights to keep the local riff-raff out of this camp so they wouldn’t steal stuff. As I’m walking around the other evening, a whole family of cows magically appeared in the middle of camp. Seriously, a dad, a younger male, a mom and a baby. Somehow wondered into our newly “secured” perimeter. So, there I was, yelling “Git along little doggies” and waving my hands around, herding this little family to the one entrance not covered in razor wire in the middle of the largest city in Haiti. Just weird. I could have used some of Jesus’s “sheep help” skills. So, in this “secure” area we have now had, if you are keeping count: chickens (2), piglets (about 12), a family of goats (mom, dad, and 4 kids), and now a family of cows (5). Twenty-five breaches in less than a week. By the way, baby goats are awesome.

Enjoy your day!

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  • Jemsmom
    March 14, 2010 at 4:34 am

    I feel so bad that he is there doing what he is doing to help and away from you Allison, but these stories are amazing! There is a website called Blog2print that will print your blog. You really should have all this printed in a book. I know you miss him and I think of you both often and pray that he will come home soon.