Monday, May 3, 2010
Glasses, braids and moonlight
Song filled the air as we washed the dishes after breakfast on Wednesday. I left with my heart full of the joyful noise to Kay Pob, while the celebration of the order of priests next door began in the early morning, with a mass that started at 9am and ended past 12pm, dancing, and music galore. Zaloa and I stopped at a water font to collect water in a plastic jug. We filled it and I placed it on my head to carry up the hill to Kay Pob. As other women passed me, with the same (much more practiced) way of carrying goods, smiles appeared with a hint of solidarity. We arrived and distributed salted fish and fried balls of dough we bought on the street and fried plaintains for the few with teeth. Building relationships gives life, we already know who likes what food. Tiffany, (T in the previous entry) offers her food to everyone else and distributes it before eating, and astonished us on Wednesday with a “Mesi.” Walter (the blind man who speaks English) persistently asked us kindly for shoes since his only stayed on his feet thanks to the twine he tied together. Rose provided us with men’s shoes that were like heaven to him.
After filling bowls with water and passing them around to wash themselves we stayed talking and laughing with them. Walter stood up went to his room and came back with a surprise... eyeglasses with prescription. He stood tall and said, “Look at me!” The stickers and tag still blocked the lenses. We asked him, “Walter, do they help?” And he said very matter-of-factly, “No, I do not see.” We laughed hysterically, a blind man with brand new thick prescription glasses. And out came Andre showing off his glasses. We asked him the same question and he said, “No, I see too big with these.” Maybe previous missioners decided to donate glasses. Zaloa took them for a walk around town with three ladies from Nazaret’s artisan group: Lydia, Nelly, and Cheryl, the whole rocky and unlevelled stroll Walter walked proudly his glasses.
I stayed behind because Lisanne (A in the previous entry) took off her bandana and placed my hands on her hair, asking me to braid it. I asked Madame Lynette (the cook, when there’s food) for a comb and after cleaning it well, began my hairstyling. Lisanne’s hair had been neglected enough to start dreading and collecting a few extra items. Lisanne sat, with much needed patience as I worked my way through her grey threads. With only one braid left to braid, Lisanne looked up towards me and said, “Mwen couche.” I smiled and took her in my arms to start guiding her back to the room, where while she hugged me I was able to finish her last braid. She touched her hair and straightened her back with a smile. Lisanne, the most attached to me, and the most physical with me, reached searching for my face, she touched it softly, leaned forward, asking for a kiss and staying there for multiple others.
By the time I finished, the group that had gone for a walk returned. We said our goodbyes and walked down the hill with the ladies from the artisan group, Cheryl shared her story, saying that her husband died in the “tremble-de-terre,” she returned to Jean-Rabel where her aunt and uncle live with her four children. I asked her if she missed her husband, she looked at me without words. After a while she murmured, “Men are parasites.” Silence and empathy walked along with us the rest of the journey. The inequality between men and women is extravagantly present.
When we arrived for lunch, Rose and Nazareth were full of stories to tell and frustrations to share about a few encounters throughout their day with oppressive priests. We listened, vented, and laughed.
Nazaret started spreading around town that I was going to start giving Salsa classes on Monday at 9am. The enthusiasm from the women surprised me and as I went through town in the afternoon inquiries about the class followed me. We’ll see what beauty unfolds, we all have been asking around town for any Latin music that may be in town and they all say there’s salsa in Port-au-Prince. Our internet is not strong enough to download music, so if need be I’ll ask a man that plays the drums to be our music, or I’ll sing.
I cannot count how many times I have read Stone Soup to my nieces and nephew, and how many times before that I had read it or had it read to me. On Wednesday, Nazaret read Stone Soup to us as our reflection. Miracles happen when we unit and bring all our broken jugs together. Rose shared the story of Calloway, Ireland. A cloister of nuns resides in Calloway and depends on the town’s generosity for everything. If the nuns have gone three days without eating they ring the bells in the convent. Calloway assures itself to never hear those bells ring. Rose shared this in reference to Kay Pob. Zaloa and I are passersby; we are here today and will be gone. Jean-Rabel must sustain Kay Pob, how glorious would it be if Jean-Rabel took felt ownership of Kay Pob the way Calloway feels ownership of the convent. We will see, we know that Calloway and Jean-Rabel are different realities, but we also know that broken jugs gathered together allow miracles to happen anywhere.
The moon, full to the brim, passed through the palm trees and lit the way as me made our way through the night, I felt your love through its reflection.