Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bird lessons at the new UCC preschool

UCC in Caiman opened a preschool in Bohoc by the market, so the little kids don’t have to walk so far.  I took me 35 minutes to walk to this school from Caiman.  My translator Louiders and I had a 15 minute program for each class, PSI, PSII, and PSIII.  We taught the parts of the birds by having kids act them out, pretending they had beaks, wings, and tails.  As the kids age additional grades will be added to the school.



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The paving of Route Nationale #3

Facing west, in the direction of Pignon.
In 2008 when I first came to Caiman I flew from Port au Prince on MAF, since the 65 mile drive took 8 hrs.  By the time I started teaching at the university in Caiman in 2014, Route Nationale #3 was paved from Port to Hinche, so the trip took only 4 hrs.  The road had also been graded all the way to Pignon, as the plan had to be to pave it that far, but the money disappeared as it tends to do in Haiti.  Over the years the road deteriorated to the point that the 8 mile trip to Pignon took ½ hr.  Now (2017) the road is graded again in preparation for paving, and only takes 10 minutes (and now a good restaurant is there!).  The road crew is already putting in three bridges between Hinche and Bohoc.  Here are pictures of the one just to the west of the Bohoc market, along with a before photo showing the pedestrian crossing.
Facing east, toward the market.

Nov. 2014

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Chalydath Resto, Pignon

The drive from the university to Pignon is now only 10 minutes since Rt. Nationale 3 has been graded in preparation for paving (as it was 6 years ago before the money and motivation to pave disappeared).  So we went there for Sunday lunch to eat at a new restaurant, Chalydath (219, Ave. Notre Dame), named after the owner's daughters and wife).  It is really good and has a variety of food and drinks, so please help keep it open!  I wanted pizza but that takes an hour, so I had a cheese sandwich grilled in a panini machine.  My friends had fish, goat, and chicken, all served with picklez, fries, veggies, or fried plantain.  They gave us an appetizer of cheese melted on bread, with tomato.  The juice of the day was grenadine (passionfruit).  They even have an espresso maker for Rebo coffee drinks such as mochas, frapacinos, and a funky monkey with peanut butter.  As usual, stay away from the endangered conch.  Chalydath is a large restaurant with an upper level that would be good for a meeting or party.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Bassin Zim 2017

This month I took my ecology 201 class (freshmen) on its annual trip to Bassin Zim near Hinche.  Classes are getting larger each year, so we had to divide the group up between two Saturdays.  There is now a sign at Bassin Zim with entrance fees, so we didn’t have the usual dramatic haggle of price negotiation.  Maybe someone saw last year’s blog post complaining about that?  The fee is $5 for foreigners, and 50 gds (78 cents) for Haitians, and they give us a reduce price!  The goal of the trip was for students to experience performing a bioassessment of the site, comparing the basin below the falls (where people swim, wash, etc.) to the small stream that comes out of the cave above the falls.  There is a remnant of a forest along this river – perhaps because of the spiritual taboo of cutting trees around cave entrances.  

We looked at land use, tested water quality (bacteria, nitrate, phosphate, pH, DO), and used sPer environmental meters* to measure air temp, humidity, light, and wind.  No one killed anything this time, and students picked up their liter.  I tried to give the young ‘guides’ (kids who live near the park and grab your hand to ‘help’ you, hoping for a tip) some suggestions for protecting the park, like use the paved paths.  See the Audubon Center blog for comparison of results over the years.

*Thanks to the 2016 Amazon Workshop for introducing me to these meters and guiding us through activities in how to engage students in environmental science.  Click here to sign up for their workshop in the Peruvian Amazon.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hawk, baby, mouse

The day my translator was not available to help me teach at the elementary school, I had to improvise based on what little Creole I am able to speak, and came up with this game to teach kids that hawks eat mice.  I had kids take on the roles of mama hawk, baby hawk, and mouse.  The baby asks the mother for a mouse, and the mother chases the mouse and gives it to the baby who says “Mesi manman!”  Even the preschoolers could do it!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Animals of Haiti Memory Game

Through Shutterfly I made a memory game of native animals of Haiti.  As with other tropical islands, Haiti doesn’t have any large native mammals.  Bats are the most common mammal, the solenodon and agouti (hutia) can only be found today in the small patches of remaining rainforest, and the Caribbean monk seal was last seen in the 1950s.  Whales, dolphins, and manatees supposedly can occasionally be seen along the coast, but most of the kids here in central Haiti haven’t seen the ocean.  I tried the game out on the kids I teach each Saturday in a small community in Bohoc, and by the end they knew all 24 animals on the memory cards!  Half of the photos are mine, and half I found on the internet under public domain or for educational use (yay Wikipedia and ARKive).  They then drew their own memory cards on index cards that we cut in half.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hotel Imperial and Auberge Villa Cana in Cap Haitien

Breakfast at the Hotel Imperial
In mid-November 2016 I stayed at the Hotel Imperial on National Rt. 1 in Cap Haitien, and went to a conference held at the Auberge Villa Cana about 2 miles to the west on the same road.  It was flooding in Cap at the time, but the hotels set far enough back from the highway that they and their parking lots were dry.  The Hotel Imperial was a basic hotel with free wifi, a pool, small bar, lobby, and restaurant.  Bannann peze with pickliz was $3.50 US.  Breakfast was complimentary and very good.  The choice on the menu came with fruit, juice, toast, and coffee – I had omelet creole every morning.  Rooms had AC and hot water (if you let the shower run long enough).  My room had enough breeze from the open windows that I only used the ceiling fan.  They take credit cards, and charged a special rate for conference participants at around $75 US per night.

The Haitian Studies Association Conference was held at the Auberge Villa Cana, which sits farther back from the highway down a short drive.  It has a large parking lot.  I didn’t see the rooms but was in the other facilities.  This hotel has 2 pools and a hot tub, playground, an auditorium, and several smaller meeting rooms.  Evening meals and activities were set up in a large gazebo.  I didn’t order food from the restaurant, but the snacks and meals provided for the conference were good.  They also had wifi for guests.

Flooding in front of Cap Haitien police department

Flooding in front of Hotel Imperial

Hotel Imperial

Hotel Imperial pool in background
Red sign indicates turn to the Auberge Villa Cana
Auberge Villa Cana reception and lobby

Auberge Villa Cana meeting room
Auberge Villa Cana auditorium.
Auberge Villa Cana pool