April 20, 2010

April 20, 2010 - Jakmel, Haiti- the secret of balance

An afternoon trek with friends leads us to a small hydroelectric plant which gives us our occasional electricity, and beyond to the bright turquoise porch of a family friend.

The walk is an adventure I am very ready for, after a weekend full of being at home, chatting in a language I barely understand about household chores I am still inept at doing in the Haitian way.

On the road: many friendly faces, hot pink houses, impossibly green fruit trees growing out of white rocks seeming to be dry as bone.

A few old women along the route gaze at me like I am stone until I greet them in Kreyol and they melt into smiles.

The kids are cheeky and full of life.

Men are not as easy for me, in any country. It's just a function of personality and perception, maybe. We pass a group of men with loud music. One of them stands up, chanting to the beat, "blan kraze peyi nou"--whites collapse/destroy our country.

Uncomfortable, but generally true.

The other men who overhear him don't greet me back fully when I greet them. Very odd in rural Haiti not to greet someone back.

We continue on, my friends chatting away and teasing my little 3 year old friend as we go.

The white stone is stunning, the little waterfalls, the ease of things.

Later, coming home again, we approach the place where the men were gathered, though the music has stopped.

Friends who know Ayiti (Haiti) had told me, but it amazes me how true it is: hundreds of years of power imbalance related to skin color and country of origin can indeed be momentarily dissipated if you are willing to publicly humiliate yourself.

As we approached the group of men with the music, my friend Dieunie balanced a large bag of dried beans and plantains we were carrying on her head, to carry it more easily in the Haitian way.

"Let me try," I said.

"You're going to try?" Dieunie asked, laughing.

We walked along slowly as the bag slipped off my head a dozen times and all the men laughed themselves silly at the "blan" and my amusing inability to perform normal Haitian tasks.

The negative energy from before disappeared. I might be a fool, but now I'm their fool--in 1,000 ways, a 1,000 times a day. Opening my arms to let in the laughter, getting a little bit bigger every time. One day I may be big enough to truly call this home.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. Looking forward reading more. Love you, Paula