Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Ordinary

Below you will find tonight's attempts at getting the demolition team to pose for a decent photo ... a faster camera helps, but nicer kids would be even MORE helpful. ;)

Troy with some babes ...
Sidewalk chalk and swimming ...

There truly is no "ordinary day" here. But today was really, really not an ordinary day. The day never got legs, we never really found our purpose ... we did some things - accomplished important tasks ... but it felt discombobulated at best. It probably has more to do with my off mood than anything. I am sure everyone else was pleased with their day. I am in sort of a funk today. Don't ask me why. I have no idea.

The 3 big kids did not have school. When they are not at school, it feels like more kids are here. A simple math problem confirms that feeling is truth.

The truck needed more work after Troy and Tipap attempted to replace the part on their own unsuccessfully yesterday. It was basically half of the front axle that needed replacing. We thought the part was crazy expensive but we're not exactly in a position to compare prices and point it out to the part dealer. It is not like Circuit City and Best Buy undercutting and fighting it out to offer the customer the lowest price DVD player. The market is not terribly customer friendly.

Side note: Today we saw an old computer monitor ... one of those giant heavy ones that take up half of a desk for $350 USD at some road side shop. Riiiiight. Bring your old monitors on down - apparently the value increases from zilch to almost four honeybees while you are in flight.

The part for our goofy Korean made truck (that is not sold in the USA) was sitting in a garage in Haiti -- that right there is a miracle. That garage pretty much knew that we were not going to find it by running across the street to Napa. They had us right where they wanted us. Buy it for 1K and eventually drive the truck or don't buy it and have a truck that sits in the driveway for all eternity. You make the call. They sold us the part but said they could not fix it.

I loved that I got emails asking about it and suggesting mechanics. Thanks for that ... you people care, you really care! But we were trying to not spend another dime. Buying the part was like a kick in the groin and we did not want to add insult to injury.

There is also a thing with mechanics here ... they tend to Haitianize a vehicle. Not that they don't fix it -- they do! But once Haitianized you cannot necessarily go back. You've got a vehicle with a mind of its own. It runs and all ... but it does it in ways that the average human mind cannot comprehend. We will eventually go that route ... but we've only owned our own vehicle for three months and we were not ready to turn it over to that system of mechanics quite yet. That day is coming.

A skilled mechanic who would work for free made himself known. We looked no further. We called on fellow Minnesotan and friend Ken Schlorf. Ken left a desk job to come work for the Baptist Mission and is their mechanic now. He and his wife Tina have three children and have been in Haiti for a number of months now. Ken saved the day today. The part is replaced, the truck is operational. (By the way, Ken was on the scene Friday helping move cement and pull kids out of the school that collapsed. If you want to read his account, it is right here.) The truck is fixed, we have wheels again. Woot to that.

This morning I took too long to get out on my run. Maybe that is where my mood turned foul. The last time I left the house was last Thursday for Women's program. I could feel my internal meters telling me I was going to blow if I did not get out of here and go burn some stress and build some serotonin. (Much research has indicated that vigorous aerobic exercise improves mood, believed to be facilitated by an increase in serotonin levels. )

Running is my Prozac and a week "unmedicated" was starting to show in my responses to small and large children alike. I should have gotten out of bed early and gone -- but like an idiot I read email, drank coffee and chatted with kids. All of a sudden it was 10:20 with a heat index of a billion degrees and a humidity of 89%.

I think the visiting mission team that I met as I left for my run probably thought I was a jerk. I was less than outgoing and was very focused on the time as I waited for Troy to get John's keys to take me in John's truck to my starting point. SORRY people I met today. I am not always rude. Just when I see a bunch of showered and well groomed people while I am in ugly running clothes with my hair pulled back in an ugly ponytail while sweating standing still and needing to just go and get it done already. Under different conditions you would have liked me.

Troy and Ken dropped me at the U.S. Embassy and I ran home. I wished for death only three times in three miles. It is stupid to run mid day in Haiti. I swear the cement is hot enough to melt tennis shoes. Some insane guy said, "you look good" I gagged out loud and kept running.

(By the way - do you know that U.S. citizens cannot enter their own embassy unless they have an appointment. It matters not what you need. You cannot get past the gate people unless you can prove an appointment. I am not sure how that works in an emergency situation ... but don't bother them with the facts - they matter not. The world is a rude and cruel place and just to stay in line with that theme the Embassy wants you to know - "Don't drop in!")

When I got home Ken and Troy were well on their way to solving the worlds' problems and the kids were being managed well by the lovely and capable Paige.

This afternoon Paige and Jeronne climbed trees for Mangoes and acted like sisters ... they argue and tease and act like dorks. Paige took the ladder away from her when she was in a tree. Then laughed at her and took photos while she dangled from the tree.

I painted the rest of Paige's room and tried to get her to promise that if I get her a dresser she will keep her room clean. In the end she said "No, I won't keep it clean. You should not buy the dresser." I approve of her honesty. And I save money on a poor quality overpriced dresser.

Now the children are in bed and the restlessness remains and I have no solution. Time for bed.