Thursday, March 26, 2015

(Not Mr.) Moto, Anyone?

The most common mode of transportation in mountainous northern Haiti, aside from walking, is to hail a “moto.” Anyone needing a quick way to get somewhere simply flags down a passing motorcycle, hops on, and then holds on for the wild and bumpy ride along gravel trails, skidding up and down steep hillsides (“Hang on to your hat!”), dodging startled goats and the children who inevitably call out: “Blanc! Blanc!”, splashing across streams (“You don’t mind getting wet, do you?”), slipping through narrow gorges (“Watch out for the cactus on your right!”).  Trust me, it's more exciting than the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland—and all for a few gourdes (pennies).  Try it some time!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Starting Out on the Wrong Foot?

Photo by Elisa Divoux
Well, every day can't start out right... but let's hope this person's day in Haiti got better after the sun came up!  Then again, when shoes are ill-fitting hand-me-downs, maybe left and right don't matter too much. And anyway, the color makes a splendid fashion statement.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Don't Leave Home Without It

Given all the travel that fills my calendar, it was bound to happen one day:  yes, I left home last week bound for Haiti. My passport, however, stayed home, snug in my purse on the chair in our living room, exactly where I left it when I grabbed the keys and strode out the door.  20 miles later, I realized my mistake and hurriedly backtracked to retrieve purse, passport, money, etc.  I made my flight—just barely—but my luggage apparently decided to linger at SFO. So, I had to wait around in Port-au-Prince another day (two, actually) to be reunited.  This turned out to be a pleasant interlude, giving me a chance to catch up with some good friends, but alas, it shortened my visit with the MBB staff and scholars in Gros Morne (which is 4 hours by vehicle to the north of PaP).  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"I know I'm in Jail, but...."

There’s an old country-western song with the refrain, “I know I’m in jail, but what town is this?” There are days when I feel a bit like that (well, not the jail part, but definitely the where-in-the-world-am-I-today part). 

If I am hearing a Pentecostal preacher singing his heart out at 3:00a.m accompanied by roosters and braying donkeys, I must be in Gros Morne, Haiti. 

If I’m in a round mud hut with thatched roof, it’s definitely Narus, S.Sudan.  

If I’m wakened by a full-throated chorus of huge bullfrogs, it’s the rainy season in Rumbek, and they've invaded my shower room.  

If the pre-dawn call to prayer issues from a loudspeaker atop a minaret, I’m in Juba.  

And if it’s the roar of CalTrain rumbling along the railway tracks, I know I’m home sweet home in the Bay Area.