October 2004: Protests in Haiti, and my high school reunion

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October has gone by so fast. The weather finally cooled off and is quite nice now. The first quarter of school ended and grades are due soon. I have been extremely busy with curriculum work, USTA, and various other projects.

We haven’t had a hash for the last two Saturdays because of the political situation. In the weeks after the hurricanes hit, things got pretty bad in the city of Port-Au-Prince. There was a lot of protesting and rioting, and looting in the port area. Customs has been closed for a month straight, so we haven’t gotten in any of the textbooks we’ve ordered. Earlier in the month several policemen were beheaded, and their funerals were last week. Apparently the people responsible are calling it “Operation Baghdad”. Aside from the police, it’s estimated that up to 50 or 60 people have died in shootings and protests downtown.

As there were many rumors of targeting Americans to kidnap or kill, we canceled the hash two weeks ago and had a barbecue at our house instead. The Marines and various other groups felt like it wasn’t safe to have a large group of white runners cruising around town. The Embassy and some other personnel have curfews. Others of us aren’t restricted by our jobs. So we had a barbecue and about 15 people came over and we all had a good time.

Several of us managed to get together to watch some of the debates, and there’s much political talk going on around town. Some Haitians are for Bush because they see him as the one responsible for getting Aristide out, but others blame him because he didn’t do it sooner. Some say if Kerry is elected he will bring Aristide back (because Kerry is a Democrat and so was Clinton, who reinstated Aristide the first time). This past week Kerry addressed a group of Haitians in Florida and spoke in French, and said he had a plan for Haiti, but he didn’t quite state what that plan is. It is said that the demonstrations going on downtown have been financed by Aristide and the Lavalas party, in an attempt to influence the American elections in November.

I went to Mexico City in the middle of the month for a regional conference for American overseas schools. About 800 people attended, from schools in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. I went to some fascinating workshops ranging from brain research on the adolescent brain to curriculum writing. We stayed at an amazing hotel in the city and really had a good time. Our last night there the American school in Mexico hosted a big party at their school, with mariachi bands, arts, crafts, Coronas, and awesome Mexican food. Real Mexican food, not Tex-Mex. A troupe of dancing kids performed for us and they were great. I went with Soraya, a colleague, and Marie, my boss. Between the three of us we got some great ideas and came back ready to go.

While we were gone in Mexico the situation in Port-Au-Prince got worse and school was cancelled for four days. We’re not really sure at this point if we’ll have to make up those days, but the general consensus is that we will miss more before the end of the year. The UN and the Embassy authorized the departure of all non-essential personnel, meaning wives and children, and we have lost five students so far.

On the way back from the conference, I flew up to Dallas for my ten year high school reunion. Lance picked me up and we had dinner at Razzoo’s, after briefly stopping by to see the parents. Later Hunter and I went up to J. Gilligans, where several of our classmates were gathering. I got to see Paul and Allison, Mysti, Hunter, and tons of people I haven’t seen in ten years.

On Saturday morning I went over to Mimi’s and went shopping with her and Abby. Abby is getting so big now! It’s hard to believe she is almost two years old. She knows so many words now and she’s so funny. So cute. It’s hard to see her, though, because every time she has to get to know me all over again, like she’s not really sure at first who I am. And it’s so hard to leave knowing I won’t see her again for two months and she’ll be so different then.

Saturday afternoon we all went to Lone Star Park for our reunion. About 150 people showed up, out of a little over 600. About 75 of them I’ve run into in the last ten years, and the other half I hadn’t seen since graduation (and some I didn’t remember from high school at all). We took a class picture and pictures from our junior high groups (that was pretty fun, we had me and Hunter, Blake, Julie Tapley, Steve Craine, Cliff and Ryan all together for that one). I won the prize for “most unusual occupation”. Hunter and Paul were both up for “hottest bachelor” but Nasser Ayyad won that.

We stayed at the reunion until about 6, and then Juliana was a sweetheart and drove me all around doing some errands and helping me pack. I said goodbye to my parents, and then we met the guys up at Mav’s for a drink. Several people from our class were at Sherlock’s, so Hunter and I cruised over there and chatted with people until about midnight. Then we went over to Scotty’s house for a party, and it was great seeing Brandon Bristow and Brian Prescott and Jenine. Soon enough, though, it was 6 am and time for Mysti to take me to the airport. It was really hard leaving, and a few tears were shed. But only two months till Christmas!

The past week has been uneventful but many people still have a curfew. We couldn’t have a hash again on Saturday so we had a pool party and bbq at some Embassy people’s house. I went out late last night to Barak, a night club in Petionville, and when I walked in there was about 200 Brazilian and Chilean UN guys, and about 7 women. I was literally the only American girl there. So that was a pretty fun night.

Five more days of work and then we have a long weekend off for All Souls’ and All Saints’ Days. And of course, my birthday! I can’t believe I’ll be 29!

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