Thursday, September 9, 2010

Keeping me sane, my friend Wood.

Last I left off I told you all I was in Cap Haitian. Tomorrow I will have been here for 2 weeks, on what Monica has accurately dubbed an island. My ride to Cap Haitian was accompanied by the superior of Cap Haitain, Sister Flor (Superior is the boss). The chafer's name is Raymon and he speaks a little English (emphasis little). We were able to make with the small talk. While small talk is not my thing it has been very useful to learn the small talk from Raymon. I'm since mastered enough language to tell people what i like, don't like, when I need to eat and that toilet paper is a necessity for life. Yet even though I can talk about poop with the hatians this doesn't satisfy my need for deeper conversation. I don't think I mentioned this but Raymon is the only person around who speaks English. My back up language is Spanish and I wish I had a dictionary. Although any of you who know my bull story know that I have the basics in that language too.

Day one was tough, and they just got harder. That first day I tried to ask what Sr. Flor wanted me to do. She handed me a drawing of the play ground. If I ever see the person who drew that I'm going to kick their butt. You laugh but I'm not kidding they ripped the sisters off. I could have got Wood (who you will hear about later) to give me a better drawing. Apparently Sr. Flor wants me to supervise the “realization of the drawing” ...crap. 2 days after giving me that gem of info she left for the US. That left me alone with Sr. Froslyn and Sr. Mary_SomethingOrRather, neither of whom speak English nor do they speak Spanish.

However polite I am to Sr. Froslyn and Sr. Marie_WhoJaMaCallsIts or vice versa, it can never be enough to overcome the language barrier that obviously frustrated them. This manifested in a exreem impatience for my Creole or Spanish and Me responding Mwen Pa Kompran a lot. Ahh dinner time, a time to converse and come together as a group. For me a time of reflection... But over the weeks my Creole HAS gotten better, I am now at the point that I understand when they would look at me and say something something Li pa kompran (he doesn't understand). This was good because they weren't talking smak but instead debating whether or not to attempt to open the tenuous lines of communication with the white dude at the head of the table.

Let me just address all you people who will ever encounter a foreigner trying to speak your language. Firstly, take it as a FREAKING compliment. They are trying. Secondly, when they ask you to slow down, slow the heck down. I don't mean slow down as in look at them for a few minutes slow to answer. I mean speak each word then pause. When speaking a word annunciate each sylable. Lastly and possibly the most important, if a foreigner asks you to slow down, DO NOT SAY NO. It's not nice and they will blog bad things about you later, take that Sipo (Sipo is the grounds keeper here and I actually adore him but I don't understand him...).

So needless to say I spend very little time talking to the sisters in the house. I usually go out to the courtyard and talk to or play with the kids. These kids crack me up. Especially when they want something outlandish. My 13 year old tutor (who is a girl scout) asked me to take her to America. Dumbfounded, I tried to pretend not to understand. Ahh, but this one knew better, because she has been tutoring me in Creole. Lucky for me I have a beautiful excuse in my girlfriend, Shannon. With a stroke of genius I told her I'm going to move to Ghana with Shannon. Now she wants to go to Ghana with me and Shannon...

Among all of this I've been able to develop a few amazing relationships. Mostly with the kids. They follow me around and say Eric Gade (which translates directly to a line from SNL “Look what I can do Look what I can do”). They say my name soo much Sr. Val (more on her later) made a comment on it. She said that I must wake up in the middle of the night hearing “Eric Gade.” I thought it was funny until I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and while that might be funny it is not a joke. Even with my mind playing tricks on me in the middle of the night these munchkins keep me sane. My favorite of the munchkins, who I have affectionately dubbed Munchkin King is Wood.

Yup that's his name, Wood. It means tree in English but to me it means kid who loves to be picked up. Among all the kids he is the one that doesn't seem to follow the crowd and talk to me solely because I'm the alien. He just seems to have fun hanging out. We played cards the other day, and he obviously doesn't know how. I wish I could teach him go fish, but my creole is not there yet. I also have a lot of fun getting him to say things in English such as, “I like farts.” Don't look at me that way he does!

In this pic we have Ose on the left (he stole my soccer ball *more later*) and Wood on the right. I don't know the girls names :-(


  1. I have a strong suspicion you put the finger-in-the-nose shot up top cuz you knew it'd kill me! Just please don't come home doing it. :-p

  2. Your suspicion is correct. HeHe!