The rain clouds rolled out last night, and we woke up this morning to a beautiful sunny day – perfect for a hike through the mountains of Haiti. Elade, Brian and Nanga (our agricultural gurus) – and Kristen and Lydia, the two tag alongs – started the morning with a 3 mile tour (sing to tune of Gilligan’s Island) of farms and land plots in the Bigot/Zorange area . The agricultural team has spent this week surveying the area and meeting with local growers to find out about what they grow and their practices. Haiti has the ability to grow a huge variety of crops and the farmers here are employing a lot of great agricultural practices, even without access to agronomic education. Brian and Nanga hope to help increase crop diversity, create buffer zones and find crops that can be harvested in the off season to increase food security. We’re looking to set up a test farm to demonstrate how new methods of farming can really work here in Haiti. It was great to get out, see more of the other habitations and beautiful countryside and get some exercise… though we’re pretty sure we ate more than we hiked, as we were treated to a coconut feast at a friend’s house along the trail. Nothing beats the fruit fresh off the tree in Haiti!
Yesterday was another productive day in Zorange, despite a constant drizzle all day. Undaunted, some of our brave strong men donned rain jackets and climbed up on the slippery roof to keep installing wiring . We are still having bandwith issues, and the IT team has done a great job installing language and antivirus software while dealing with the internet provider and trying to get them to correct our limit. Oh, and did we mention there’s a new Wifi hotspot in town? The awesome IT team also got internet down in our dorm, and it even reaches down to Obed’s, our host family’s, house. Pretty soon we’ll be surfing the internet while feasting on amazing Haitian bread, coffee & pastries. (Thought you’d get away with a post without a food mention? Our Italian, food-lovin upbringing won’t allow it! We’re thinking about starting a side Haitian foodie blog.)
Now, we’re going to let you in on the tough life we have here on the media team. Apparently, in addition to plenty of bottled water and coconut milk, our teammates have been drinking their share of the Haterade. They censor themselves while “the bloggers” are around. Any time we make a positive comment, it’s dubbed as “spin”. We have even been called “the party team” (hey, girls just wanna have fun!). So when we heard that school storage room needed organization, we attacked it with something to prove! “Needing organization” turned to be an understatement – the room looked like an episode of Hoarders! Towers of books were piled in the corners; crayons, toys, games, flash cards, tape and glue were piled in bins with no rhyme or reason; and we had enough pencils for Tom Hanks to send Meg Ryan dozens of bouquets of pencils, ala You’ve Got Mail. Little did we know that we’d find enough historical artifacts in those piles to make the American Pickers proud. We’re talking phone books and the University of Maryland class directory from 1994, late-80s school supply catalogs galore, and instruction manuals for 1960s computer equipment! In case we weren’t already surprised by some of the well-meaning but not-so-useful donations we’d received, we stumbled across the collection of French romance novels (none of us speak French, but covers complete with Fabio look alikes are universal!). We’re proud to report that after a full day of manual labor, we’ve got everything sorted, organized, boxed up and labeled – and upped our cred with the team. If TLC calls, you know where to find us.
Even after a hard day’s work, we still had to stay true our reputation by throwing a little part-ay (we can’t let down our fans, now can we?). As the team and a few of our Haitian friends gathered to watch the sunset on the porch of the dorm, we busted out a little Michael Jackson (“P.Y.T….I want to loooove you…”) and our best dance moves (though Nanga showed us all up when we played “Beat It”). After dinner, the party continued with a movie night on the inside wall of the dorm. Tim figured out how to hook his computer and the projector up to the power source down there, and we had a good turnout of adorable Haitian kids for our first movie premiere in Zorange. Ashley, our school director in Haiti, told us that the kids kept saying “Those people are so cute!” after seeing the dolled up celebrities. Unfortunately the movie got cut a little short when the power went out – turns out the cloudy day didn’t charge the solar panels enough to support a day’s worth of blogging and movie-watching.
“Are you not entertained?” Well, we hope you are because we’re running out of stories. Good thing we can use the excuse of “poor internet connection” as to why we haven’t posted more 🙂 Seriously though, we never know when the interwebs is going to cooperate with us, so we’ll try to post 1-2 more times before we return home on Friday. Peace out homies!
– The Party Team!