Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Moped Madness

Well, I already gave you a rundown on Friday's adventure, and the rest of the weekend continued to be rather adventurous. Saturday I got up, ate breakfast (made poached eggs for the first time in my life), read my book for a bit (Paul Polak's Out of Poverty: What works when traditional approaches fail), and then Matt and I got the mopeds out to go and visit a local orphanage.
Being that this would be our first try at the mopeds, it took us a while to find the keys, helmets, figure out how to get them running, etc., but eventually we headed off...and of course had some difficulties. I got about 15 feet on the driveway and my scooter stalled out. I got it started again, and then made it about 30 feet down the road, and it stalled out again. This happened continuously every hundred yards or so, until I asked Matt if he'd switch with me to see if I was just doing something wrong (plus, he owns a motorcycle and if more familiar with motorized bikes).
No, it wasn't me...but now Matt was riding the bad bike :), ha ha. We got about halfway to the orphanage, and we decided to head back because it wasn't worth stopping every so often, and it would take quite a few kick-starts each time to get it going again. We played the stop & go game all the way home, receiving confused Haitian stares all the while. First of all, what are two white kids doing on scooters on Haitian roads...that's too dangerous for them. Plus, why can't they drive more than 100 yards without stopping? Silly blan (white).
Yet again, Matt has stalled out on the side of the road.

We made it back to CWH and Chris immediately determined that the air-fuel mixture was out of whack, and made the correct adjustment. So, we were back on our way, to drive by the same confused Haitians the first two times we passed them by :).
We finally made it to Canaan (the orphanage), joined them for lunch (perfect timing), and got a grand tour of the place. It was quite an operation in that they have a school, dorm, cafeteria, and chapel, all on-site for the orphans that live there. They also have a pig & rabbit farm where they teach the kids breed the animals, and then they eat them :). One pig just happened to have 13 piglets the day before, so of course I snapped a shot of that.
Bacon, pork roll, sausage, ham...should I name each one of them?
After our tour of Canaan, Matt and I headed back to CWH for dinner, and then drove the new van back to the orphanage afterward for movie night. All the kids (including myself) crammed into the cafeteria to watch the new "Alvin & the Chipmunks" movie (well, I don't know how new it is, but it's new to me). It felt kind of surreal sitting there with a slew of orphans in Haiti watching Alvin & the Chipmunks be projected onto a screen (I don't know, maybe that's something you do often?)
After the movie, four of us foreigners grabbed a deck of cards and played a card game called "Oh, hell" (I had never played it before, but it was pretty cool). Back to CWH...and off to sleep.
Sunday morning Matt & I got up early (5:45AM) so we could head out on another moped adventure to a place called Capiat (aka...The Source). Capiat is a place up in the mountains where there is cold freshwater that bubbles out of the ground and forms a bit of a swimming hole. In order to get up there, we drove the scooters up the side of the mountain until we couldn't go any further, chained them to a tree, and then hiked the next half hour up to the spot.
Me cruising around Haitian mountains on a moped (a very bumpy ride I might add...so much so that I probably shouldn't call it cruising).
Swimming at "the source"...how refreshing :).
I know that being white in Haiti draws enough attention in itself...but hiking up to a very central location for a certain community and going swimming there makes it that much worse. It wasn't so bad in the beginning because we got up there so early, but eventually there was a decent swarm of people (mostly kids), just standing around staring at us (and they don't get bored of it). They'll sit there and stare all day if you let them, so eventually we wrapped up our swim due to an uncomfortable feeling that you just can't shake.
We hiked back down and the scooters were still there, woo hoo! Before we got there, we were trying to decide if we would have to walk the whole way down because of missing tires...or missing bikes even.
We made our way back down the rest of the mountain, drove to Canaan's chapel, changed our clothes, and went to church. We had someone in the back of the chapel translating the service to English for us, which was nice, but there was lots of singing which was pretty fun to watch/listen. I can barely speak Creole...so no, I wasn't singing in Creole...not one word.
The church...before it filled up with all the kids and locals...notice the uniform pews :).
Ok, I need to wrap this up because it's almost two hours past my bedtime already (11PM).
Later on Sunday evening, Chris introduced a British TV series known as "The Young Ones". We watched one episode, and the afterglow had this type of feel to it..."what on flippin' earth did I just watch?" It was 100% British humor, and unfortunately not much of it made sense to me. Matt was in the same boat...so I didn't feel like I was missing out on too much.
Last thing: I found the below map on a wall at Canaan, and it's rare to see a good Haitian map, so I figured I would share it. My current location at Clean Water for Haiti is on the central west coast, just south of St. Marc where the number 1 is. Next week, Matt and I will be heading up to Cap Haitien (northern coast), and then down to Milot (about 12 miles south of Cap Haitien).

A decent map of Haiti if you're interested.

That's all from me. Thanks for reading...and have a good week.


Anonymous said...

:) :) :)

Owen said...

Ok mystery smiley person...reveal your identity :o).

Anonymous said...

O- Behind mystery door #1 - mom...

Angela said...

I particularly like the pig names. Of course, this is coming from someone who named her chocolate brown bunnies things like Godiva, Whitman, Bailey, Mousse, Milky Way, etc.

Owen said...

Hey Angela,
I couldn't help but name them what they were going to become. Is 13 pigs a lot for one litter? (my guess is that it's not called a litter, but you know what I mean :)

Anonymous said...

um, west coast.

Owen said...

Yes, west coast (I just fixed it). Thank you to my anonymous editor :).

Anonymous said...

This is Steven.

Hairy bacon. You should name them something like, tiger bait, lazy runner, milky filter, and the big one on the ground should be named Megabite.