Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Monday, June 21, 2021
Earth, Sun, Food, Water - and Coffee:
Am I dreaming? It seems my neighbors drink a LOT LESS than we blans (visitors) do. Indeed, folks also eat a lot less frequently, but also a lot more when they do eat -- huge bowls, if not platters of mayi moulin ak sos pwa, pou egzanp. When my Haitian friends and neighbors eat, they eat down to the last drop.
And me? I drink like a fish and eat like a bird, BUT one rule of thumb has been: LOTSA coffee!
And: Do not speak to me in the morning until I have had my coffee! So that's what I insist on maintaining. My few "Princess" routines...gotta have that kafe le matin. So, a huge chodye is prepared with coffee, and then poured into a HUGE thermos that is the size of a three year old Haitian child...This too is a little business, provides a job (and coffee!) for the families involved. Ok, ok - it's it's my ONE luxury, will you allow me that?
Work options for paysans, farmers, moun ki travay te (those who work the land) would be to form "kombite" - work teams, work collectives, and take turns as a group working in one another's large plots of land. There are few such large land owners these days - what with inheritance patterns being as they are, with all children inheriting equally, boys and girls, most owned land are small plots scattered here and there, bits and pieces from a mothers' side, a fathers' side, and so on. That trickles down.
The "trickle down" effect has resulted in land plots being a small trickle, quilts of plots that one hikes to (or not), that one plants (or not) and weeds and perhaps, hopefully, harvests.
No, there is no irrigation, and little watering of gardens here. When it rains it pours, and if it doesn't rain, farmers and their families are, well, sunk.
There are occasional surprises, however. Like once, one summer, Madame Jean produced some tomatoes!
Friday, June 11, 2021
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Memoir- Records of our lives
We Write… to preserve the dust motes of memories,
to record, to revise, take Notes, save photographs,
reflect on our Oh-so -special unique lives,
our own unique sufferings, the minutiae of our lives, we save it, store it, our legacy, experiences, stuff it in words and boxes…
and then the big bulldozer comes by.
Dust rises in the wake.
Presumes a certain arrogance.
Monday, February 1, 2021
"Oke, mwen li ti liv sa a"
Back in the days of flip phones comes this tale of resurrection, ingenuity and human intelligence.
And also, of human stupidity. Ignorance. Blindness.
I had been formally trained as a public school teacher.
I had been taught that if a student provided an answer (be it mathematical or grammatical) best practice was probing the student, i.e.“How do you know?? “How did you get the answer?"
I rigorously deployed this in Haiti. Science of knowledge. How do we know what we know?
So, One day after a hike, there was the disaster of the cell phone. It was back in those days of flip phones. I had forgotten not to wrap it carefully, double-bag it, in two plastic bags. It sat in a pouch my backpack on my back and…and of course, the rain came down and down.
When I remembered, pulled it out the phone was dead! My Kreyol gropes for words, and I cry, “Li mouri, li mouri, li pati!”
But says Toma, in deliberate slow, Kreyol, “Pa enkyete ou Madame Randy, li pa mouri - ou pral wè.” “Don’t worry Madame Randy, it’s not dead — you’ll see.”
Then, he pinched it and in front of my shocked eyes, soon had it in two pieces! My heart is giving way, my stomach ready to heave…Now, I felt truly doomed, marooned! My phone was taken apart and my connection to the outer world gone, gone, gone before my very eyes! But Toma quietly says, “Gade sou glas la, ti boul sa yo? Oke, tout sa nou fè se, nou pral mete telefòn nan nan solèy la sou yon wòch epi ou pral wè demen bul yo pral ale.” “See on the glass, those little bubbles? Well, all we do is, we’re going to put the phone in the sun on a rock and you’ll see tomorrow the bubbles will be gone.”
He tears apart pieces of my phone and removed a tiny sliver of metal. He shows me, “And you see this, Madame Randy? This is your SIM card!”
Huh? I had no idea what he was telling me. SIM card? It got worse as he explained, “It’s all the information in your phone.” Even worse, as he tries to make me understand, “It’s the memory of your phone.”
All I could think was, I had lost connection with the outside world! I’m stranded, Robinson Crusoe…
But Toma says, “Pa enkyete w, Do not worry,” as he replacs the SIM card back into a slot, some slot, what do I know? And then closed everything up and… the phone was as good as new!
Ever the teacher deploying pedagogical skills, I probed “Toma, how did you know what to do? How did you know how to solve the problem?” Tools of the science of knowledge, indeed!“Well,” says he, “Madame Randy, You know when you buy a cell phone, it comes with a little book inside the box? Oke, mwen li ti liv sa a! Well, I read that little book!”
He had read the directions! I had not considered that at all.
I was busy imputing arcane know-how, innate intelligence…Tools of the science of knowledge indeed!
Simply, it was that 6 or so years of what passed for schooling in these rural the mountains paid off!