26 September, 2014

So here I am.

In Haiti. It is a bit of a scene change, I admit. I'd like to say it's been my life's dream realised coming here but in reality I just decided in the space of a few months to pop over for a laugh. I decided to keep the blog as the title remains remarkably apt, although the headers will now be a bit less egocentric and bikey (thank heavens!) Apologies in advance for the lack of pictures, I have no method of putting then up from my phone here at the internet cafe.

I'm over here volunteering at Sadhana Forest which is (durrr) a reforestation project. We have a nursery , tree growing plots, compost bogs, new age sleeping arrangements and oodles of positive Chi. Mornings are spent rising at dawn (snigger!), limbering up in a happy circle, planting trees here or in the community and then trying not to eat small children on the trek back for breakfast. We often then do a second work session before lunch. The afternoons and weekends are free for fanciful frolicking and active adventures of any kind, although getting things done at Carribean pace is steady!

As a holiday resort Haiti has many things to offer, the top three of which I'd say are:

1) Huge smouldering piles of burnt plastic and clothes (thanks America for the winter coats).
2) Copious tiny little black willies, flapping about carefree as you're bent down planting or innocently tying a shoelace.
3) The balancing of any and every household object on one's head, which appears to be the National sport. To date I have seen water (obviously), wood and charcoal, huge bags of clothes, several chairs, an upside down table with a set of pans on top and finally... A three piece DVD, CD and Video set. I'm not joking. I believe she was called Queen Sony of the kingdom of balancing heads. I offered up a "Hi Fi!" but was rejected.

My free time to date has been spent reading, meditating (oh god, I've become that guy), wandering and wondering. I've met some amazing people already, walked up a mountain, eaten lunch with some tree farmers and met "Papa Leon XIX", celebrity nutcase of the town Banane! I've spent 7 hours in a bus with Hispaniola music on full whack, and ridden concho moto taxis at ridiculous speeds with no helmet and no worries. The highlight so far has undoubtedly been changing the compost toilets though.

Idiocy aside, the poverty here isn't that lol. Foreign importers have basically molested the economy into submission and continue to maintain and control it in such a way, like a bullying big brother. Thousands of fizzy drinks are sold here for 15 pesos (around 30p) and the bottles are strewn everywhere. How terribly lazy of the people you say? Well if you don't have bins, recycling or landfill where do you put the waste? On the ground. Most mornings the sweet scent of smouldering litter can be smelt from my bunk as the people burn litter en masse. It's a rock and a hard, polluted, smoky, ash ridden place.

The water supply comes from a UN built concrete channel which diverts from the canal and splits more and more from source. If you are far down the line, poor you. People argue over water, redirect it using leaves and rancid clothes to block neighbours channels, and everyone washes themselves and clothes in them. Yesterday I saw an adorable little girl in an old, torn Alice in Wonderland outfit put down the cardboard boxes she had collected for kindling, squat down and pee in the channel. This is real life.

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