Monday, July 23, 2012

First Day!

July 23 (evening)

I had a slow day today, which was nice because I'm still getting oriented and comfortable. I slept in and then took a shower (but couldn't figure out how to work the shower so instead scooped clean water from a bucket under a faucet in the shower). Turns out showering is going to be a night-time activity for me, because I proceeded to cover myself in Deet lotion and then sunscreen after my nice, cool shower. (I haven't yet mentioned the obvious, but it is HOT AND HUMID here!! I actually woke up and was chilly enough to put my top sheet on in the middle of the night, but other than that, I feel perpetually sticky. no, perpetually soaked sounds more accurate.)

I ended up spending much of the first day sitting around in Sarah's house. By the time I got over here, an eventful morning had passed by already in the clinic - one woman called and said she was having contractions, but gave birth at home before she could come here! I went over and met two women who work at the clinic (one is an assistant/receptionist, I think, and I forget her name, and the other is a student midwife, named Ninotte. Ninotte was finishing her third and last post-partum check-up of the morning, but things are pretty relaxed so she didn't mind coming and meeting me in the middle of it. She also speaks english (and maybe french, too? I haven't tried yet), and is going to Cali with Melinda sometime soon to take her midwifery exam. 

Sarah employs a woman to take care of upkeep around her place and keep an eye on the kids who come in and out for food and company. Two kids live with Sarah, and there are 1 or 2 others who come by Sarah's place or the volunteer house around mealtimes (or whenever, just to hang or play or eat). So there are a lot of good people all around all the time! In the middle of the afternoon, I was nodding off, so the woman working here (Mirlande? still learning all the names!) told me to use one of the kids' beds and take a nap... which ended up stretching out for TWO hours!! ha. whoops. 

There was supposed to be a poker night on the beach with other expat friends of Sarah's, but most of them cancelled so it was just me, Sarah, Melinda, and Ninotte. We drove down through town (I exchanged dollars for my first gourdes!) to the beach in Jacmel bay, and sat at a table in the lovely, strong beach breezes and ate a tasty dinner of fish cooked in a yummy sauce, fried plantains, avocado, and beer. After sitting and talking and laughing for a while, we finally came home, and here I am! I'm excited to follow Melinda to the clinic tomorrow morning (Sarah has to drive a friend to Port Au Prince at 4am, poor girl, so she'll be back around 10 or 11am at the earliest). 

Sarah was telling me that whites are usually approached and spoken to a lot, either to ask for money, sell something, or just generally chat and get to know a person, but so far I haven't felt that singled out. I haven't even felt stared at! A couple of people have said Bonjou or Bonswa as we pass, which is a pretty typical benign interaction. I like it here so far! And it was especially nice/beautiful down by the beach tonight. :)

So far I feel safe and healthy, despite 4 mosquito bites from the first evening before I had access to my Deet - whoops! I'm applying my 12 hour slow-release Deet lotion twice a day so far... but Sarah and Melinda claim that after being here for a while and getting bit some at the beginning, they don't even notice the mosquitos' presence anymore. Interesting. Sarah takes no preventative meds and doesn't use any Deet or other repellant products - she's had dengue once and malaria once, and seems pretty laid back and unfazed about it. 

Bonswa! xoxo

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