August 2004- Back in Haiti

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August 10, Texas: Well, here it is, end of summer and about time to head back to Haiti and work. It has been a busy summer for me. I spent the first few days in Florida with one side of my family, and had a wonderful time. I flew back to Texas just in time to celebrate my friend Mysti’s birthday, and then Lance and I decided to take off for Austin for a few days to see Jason and to catch a SpoonFed Tribe show. That was alot of fun. When I came back to Arlington, my parents went out of town for a couple of days, so I had the house to myself. Before I knew it, it was July 4th and we spent it out on Hunter’s boat, just like last year. Later in the month Hunter had a big party at his house and I got to see all our friends. Even Ken flew home for the party. I spent some time in Plano with Amber, housesat for my sister and for Chris and Mysti, and went to Six Flags over Texas with Kris. I got to spend plenty of time with Abby, especially at her “Edible Art” classes. In July, I went to Colorado for a week with some colleagues from Haiti for a Curriculum conference. We stayed in Avon and really enjoyed our time there. Beautiful weather and great scenery too. After I came home from Colorado, Ken came into town for his birthday and we had fun celebrating with him. My parents went on a week’s long vacation to New Mexico, which they really enjoyed. Now here it is the last week and I’m trying to get the last-minute things done and figure out how I’m going to get all the clothes I bought into my suitcase.

August 23, Haiti:

Last night I dreamed I was running and kept feeling these little pinches on my body. I woke up in a pool of sweat and my hair drenched, and there were three mosquitoes inside my mosquito net feasting on me. It was really a wonderful way to wake up the night before school started. It’s so amazingly, freakishly, disgustingly hot here right now. I’m averaging three showers a day and I’m still always hot. It’s like going through menopause- I have hot flashes and night sweats. Weird.
I was the last of the roommates to arrive in Haiti, last Tuesdays. Pia, our new teacher (yeah, isn’t that funny, Pia and Deah, haha), arrived on Sunday and they put her up at the Hotel Montana for the night (a good place to transition from the luxury of the US to the reality of Haiti) and Tom and Sue and Christy came in on Monday. Tuesday night we barbecued at the house on our wonderful grill (thanks again to Monica and Andy; we use that thing all the time). Wednesday arrived way too early and it was time to start back to work- no kids yet, thankfully. Actually, Wednesday we got a half day as the whole country took off for the Haiti-Brazil soccer game. Tom got a ticket to the game and went with Marie’s family; the rest of us opted to watch it on the big screen at the Petionville Club so we could eat there and swim. It was a fun game to watch and although Haiti lost, there was a tremendous amount of support and welcoming for both teams. Haiti is so into soccer, and it was a really nice gesture on Brazil’s part to put into motion this event.
Thursday night we decided to stay up late and do something we have always wanted to do- we went down to the Oloffson Hotel to see RAM (anyone who saw the movie The Comedians or read the book, that is the same hotel. Actually, that’s a really good fiction book about Haiti, if anyone has some time to read and wants a suggestion). Anyway, RAM is this really kicking Haitian band- someone told me the other day they used to open for Jimmy Buffett- need to check that out- that kind of reminds me of Spoonfed, in that it has about 12 members on guitars, bongos, drums, singing. Plus they have these three Haitian women dancers who do all the Haitian folklore dancing (what we would think of as “African” dancing). They are not quite as loud and obnoxious as Spoonfed, but they are quite loud and had really good tunes and I really enjoyed them. The only thing that takes some getting used to is dancing in a club with Haitians, because their concept of personal body space is very different from ours. It was also an ass-kicking 90 degrees inside the place. It was quite a workout and we were nasty-sweaty when we got home at 2:30 am. But it was really fun and I’m glad we finally got to go. We’d like to try to make it out there once a month or so.
Friday was a bit hard, as we had to work at 8 am and we had been out late the night before, and it was about 100 degrees with 70% humidity. I managed to get my classroom set up and brought home some work to do on my computer to get ready for school to start. Saturday I went to a bbq at the Marine House, and Sunday we went over to the Ansaldi’s for a swim and dinner (excellent ribs).
So now school is about to start and we will see what that brings us. We are going to have a much larger student body this year; we dropped our tuition to try to bring in more kids. Hopefully my classes won’t be too large, as that was the whole point in getting out of American public schools. I’m quite happy with my class load this year; I am teaching 8th English and 8th US History, and two sections of 9th English and 9th World History. Since I taught three of those last year, I am hoping this year will be a little easier on me. Although I have to admit, just getting through August is going to be a challenge. I ran on the treadmill for 12 minutes today at the gym and thought I was going to pass out because it was so hot (imagine 24 Hour Fitness with no a/c). Just when you get a good rhythm going, WHAM! The electricity cuts off and you go flying off the front end of the treadmill. It’s actually quite funny to watch, but not so funny when it happens to you. So after my pathetic workout today, it was time to go home and take my second shower of the day (the third will come just before bed time). Oh well, at least I’m trying- and don’t you burn more calories the hotter it is?

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