The mosquitos here are INVISIBLE. Well, not really, but I literally have yet to see a single one! I must have about 15 bites on me by now, despite my thorough use of permethrin and deet, but the closest I've come to actually seeing a mosquito is when I heard that telltale hum in my ear, once. I don't know if that particular one even bit me, considering that nearly all of my bites are below my knees. Go figure. I'm not too concerned about it because a) everyone here is very relaxed about mosquitos (no one seems worried at all, and I think I'm the only person taking any personal precautions whatsoever, like permethrin and deet... and some people don't even bother to sleep under a mosquito net) and b) I still feel 100% healthy.
People here are very relaxed about a lot of things, it seems. Life moves pretty slowly. The clinic is open until 4, I think (and the midwives are also on-call 24/7), and after that, everyone generally slows waaay down. We might go to the beach, take a nap, sit and read, hang out, talk on the phone... it's super chill. I think the heat may have something to do with it - even before I started settling into this lifestyle, my body wanted to slow down and nap because it's just so hot! (Although, as I write this, we're getting our first little bit of rain since I got here - just a sprinkle - which should help cool it down a bit!) There's also not a whole lot to do after the clinic closes, other than hang with the kids, relax, or take a mini trip somewhere (to the beach or into town, although it's a lot hotter in town). I think it's the same for lots of people here, because I often see people just sitting and lounging around outside on their porches and steps. It's actually really nice right now, because the rain is coming down a bit more, cooling everything down, pitter-pattering on our tin roof... and in the background, I can hear a lot of music coming from a school or church that's a couple buildings away. It's really great singing, with lots of strong voices, harmonies, and a bit of melodic and percussive accompaniment!
I had a slow start to my morning on Tuesday, because when I went downstairs to eat and study some Creole, it wasn't long until (first) Marie-Paul was talking my ear off and (second) the house filled up with crazy kids running and yelling and playing! I finally gave up and gave in - and had a blast goofing off with the kids. Rosna (Sebastian and Marie-Paul's pseudo-adoptive-daughter), Jeangadi (a little HIV-positive boy who Sarah takes care of), Rosalinda aka Dada (a little girl Sarah takes care of during the week), Zigi (a young boy who comes around sometimes, jokingly called the local delinquent), Franky (the most adorable, sweet, little guy who stole your heart, probably 2 or 3 years old), and Danayelle (the 13-year-old who lives with Sarah) were all there. Danayelle was helping cook lunch, but all the kids were climbing on each other (and me), playing with toy cars and trucks, taking turns singing... it was quite a romp. Turns out hanging out with kids can really help with language practice, too! My Creole is coming along.
From left to right: Dada, Jeangadi, and Rosna, sitting in the hammock outside the second story door at my house.
Rosna is SO silly and giggly, all the time!
Later in the day, we went to another beach, and this one has calmer/cleaner waves so it's a major swimming beach. I can officially add the Caribbean to my growing list of waters in which I've paddled about this summer! It was so very warm, but still helped us cool off. While we were sitting at a table on the beach, a bunch of boys (probably mostly age 10-15, give or take) were roaming the beach, each carrying a machete and a few coconuts. They came over and handed them to us or set them down by the table, and unless were told otherwise, walked off (grinning at their friends/competitors) knowing they had just made a sale that they would collect on later. (Sidenote - one of them had a smile that looked SO MUCH like my cousin Andrew, it was disconcerting!) They would hack off the tip of the coconuts, just enough until there was a quarter-sized hole, which allowed us to drink all the sweet coconut water from the inside. After we finished that tasty/messy treat, they would eventually pass by again and hack the coconuts in half and also cut off a little skinny slice of the outer layer of shell - this created two halves, or bowls, that had a thin layer of soft, somewhat slimy coconut "meat", and the little skinny slice of shell became a spoon of sorts! Pretty clever. Finally, well after we were finished, the kids came around to collect their reward - 25 goudes per coconut (about 50 cents!).
Here's Sarah with her coconut!
Aaaand here's my coconut after I destroyed it!
One of the really common street foods here (sort-of like french fries, both in how much they're served and eaten, and in how they're made) is fried plantains. They're super tasty! Usually, they're sold with other food, just on the side of whatever main meat or fish thing you're buying to eat or snack on. A bit of ketchup goes very well with them - still sounding a lot like french fries? ;) The plantains are also quite good when eaten raw, like a banana. We had them as a side with our fish the other night; they pretty much come with everything.