Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Orphanage Part 3 – Return of the Bat TV

Watching a nature film on the Bat TV.
On Friday I went to the orphanage with Scott and Ashley (after a failed attempt to find the place where I’ll pick up my mail brought in by Agape Flights).  The previous week the kids kept asking about my Bat TV, the iPad on which I showed them videos of bats.  So this week I brought it and we sat and watched two 40 minute episodes of BBC Planet Earth, one about the ocean, and one about jungles.  And I found out I know very few words in Creole about ocean life.  My next goal is to get speakers for the iPad so we can hear the shows.  Too bad they aren’t subtitled so the kids can be learning English as well.
Jajebo Little Brown Bat Earrings

The kids also loved the bat earrings my mom gave me.  They are homemade from used cereal boxes by Jabebo Earrings.
Even Scott is watching the bat TV.
Scott taking a shift on the tiny chair.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Walking tour of Cayes (lots of pictures)

Map of Cayes.
Saturday morning Rhoda and I decided to explore a road that we could see on a map, to see if there was a path from it that went all the way to the ocean.  The road is called Route Wharf Masse, and it starts just on the other side of the Cayes gate (arch) that is just past our road to AUC.  The road runs past the agriculture organization SEED, which Rhoda had been to many times, so she was familiar with this end of the road.

We started out around 6:45am, and the walk on this road was very peaceful.  Not many people out on it, and I don’t remember seeing any motorcycles once we got a ways south from the highway.  The road runs past rice fields which had green herons and black-necked stilts.  A canal diverts water from a nearby river into the fields.
A mangrove tree and corn in the rice fields south of AUC
The neighborhood of Islet, where the river meets the sea.

Making lobster traps.

Me and Martelly.

Discussing the fish in the canal
After the road took a sharp right west toward town, we came to a ponded area of the canal in which there were at least 3 species of fish - bon boni with yellow tails, a fish called teta which is the Kreyol word for tadpole (but Rhoda was sure the man was using it for a fish) and a fish called kongo (fish post coming later).  The road was getting busier with all the people carrying their wares to the market.

Sorting charcoal (notice they are standing on charcoal)

The road came out on the main road that runs northwest-southeast through Cayes, Avenue Des Quatre Chemins.  Rather than staying on this busy road, we went east one road and ended up in an even busier market.  Not for those who don’t like crowded cultural experiences!  The road was a bit muddy, there were many places where you had to jump over water streaming across the road, it was VERY crowded with people selling food (raw meat, veggies, rice, spices, fruit) and clothing (I bought a blouse for 150 gd ($3.75), probably too much but I talked her down from 250 gd).  Finally the market ended and we ended up walking through a narrow little neighborhood called Islet that popped out where the river meets the ocean.  This was about 4km (2.5mi) from AUC.  People were bathing in the confluence, kids were playing (or bathing?), men were working on their boats and lobster traps.  It was quite the cultural experience you can’t get from driving.  And I learned that “I love you baby” sounds a lot like “Hello Debbie” (the guy who said it seemed pretty happy that I responded by shaking his hand).
Sail boat taxi.
Carrying the market lady from the sail boat.

From Islet we headed west and followed roads that hugged the ocean, detouring down them to see what was on the coast.  We came across public latrines that a Rotary club had built (and that were in great need of emptying), a trashy mangrove, a park built by Martelly, a pier where people were unloading wooden poles and charcoal, and finally a pier where cement was being unloaded from little wooden boats that brought it in from a large ship docked out in the bay.  Men were then bagging up the cement for transport into town.  There was a cute but trashy park at this pier, and a nice
salesman from NatCom who welcomed us and said thanks for not being afraid to visit Cayes (he also knew some Vietnamese, as NatCom is a Vietnamese cell phone company).

The ship of cement.  Notice the small wood boats along side it.
Unloading and packing up cement
At 10:30am we ended the trip by catching a moto for the 3.5km (2mi) back campus (2 of us on the same one!).  It was a great walk, and if anyone is brave enough to visit me in Haiti, I look forward to taking you walking to see rural, city, and ocean-side life in Haiti.

The moto ride home.

Fried bread is always good!  5 gds each.
Rhoda and the Rotary latrine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lessons from Living in Les Cayes

Mimi Day-o, the run away cat.
  • If riding a moto taxi (motorcycle taxi), wear a flowy skirt so you can get your leg over the back without hitching up your skirt beyond a modest height.
  • Believe the Haitians when they say to tie your new cat up for 2 days so she doesn't runaway.   Even after 3 days cats run away.
  • Save your glass pop bottles to return to the store - your next bottle of pop will be half the price.
  • Get your Internet work done while power and Internet works.  Don't count on it being available tomorrow or the day you really need to have the work done.
  • Go ahead and put the fan 1 foot from your face while you're sleeping, you'll be much cooler than it being 13 or more inches away.
  • Videos of baby bats with their moms are an excellent way to reinforce to both children and adults that bats don't come from old mice.
Two fans are better than one.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Orphanage - Part 2

Last Friday I returned to the Simon orphanage with Ashely and Scott, and taught more ecology - all in Creole!  I used a poster I got from the Audubon Society to teach about animals that are native and non-native to Haiti, and domestic and non-domestic (sovaj).  Thanks to my new Creole tutor James for helping me learn the phrases to say.

I also showed the kids nature videos on my iPad.  They loved it!  Check out Scott's blog for pictures and a video.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Restaurants in Les Cayes and Haiti's southern peninsula

Here I'll keep track of the restaurants I've eaten in on the southern peninsula.  I'll focus on the vegetarian options since that's what I eat.  Feel free to post your own reviews in the comments.

In general, restaurants don't have about 1/2 of what is on the menu, and it may take 2 hours before the meals are served since they don't make it until you order.  Many allow you to order ahead.  And they serve HUGE portions!  I haven't learned yet how to convey small portions.  Juices are freshly made and GREAT!  Passionfruit, grapefruit, key lime, orange, cherry...

Les Cayes
Meridien - On Route 2 about a block west of the main gate.  Also a hotel
They don't have the pizza on their menu.  Service was relatively fast, we had our dinner within an hour.  I had the bannan pese (fried plaintains) with rice and something else that I forget, maybe pikliz (spice coleslaw).  With the bannan as my starch I didn't need the rice.  I think everyone else at the table enjoyed their fish.  Not too expensive, $8 I think.

Nami - Chinese restaurant, downtown Cayes.  Great vegetarian eggrolls, and cashew vegetables.  Order ahead!

Ashley and her cheese burger.
Fast and Tasty - Downtown.  I had the Accra (fried taro root, 50gd) and pikliz.  The beet salad is good too.  Also has burgers and pizza.
Scott enjoying his food.
The gas station near the Les Cayes gate is said to have excellent pizza.  Later someone else said it was frozen DeGiorno pizza.  Still sounds good to me.  

William with lambi (conch) and beat salad.

Pikliz and Accra - fried taro root

Lobby of  Chateau Champvert
Chateau Champvert  - On Route 2, look for the sign on the north side of the road and follow the dirt road to it (it's only a block or two back).  This is a very fancy hotel with a swimming pool, gift shop, massage parlor, exercise room, disco lounge, bar, and restaurant.  The food took over 2 hours to arrive.  They gave us some bread as an appetizer, and I finally broke down and asked for our juice before our meal.  See the picture of the vegetarian meal they concocted for me.  Canned peas ringed by
an excellent potato salad ringed by canned corn.  With rice, french fries, pikliz, and bannan pese.  WAY too much food.
The vegetarian option at Hotel La Foi
Chateau Champvert
Again, didn't need the rice, or the canned veggies!  We took the leftovers home.  Rhoda made a soup from her leftover chicken.  About $10.


Port Salut
Hotel Reposoir du Village - On the south side of Route 2, right on the beach.  This place had the best ambiance.  The food took no more than an hour, playing cards and exploring the beach kept us busy.  Had a giant plate of pikliz with rice, and juice.  This was the most expensive place so far - $15.  See pictures here.

Les Anglais 
Hotel La Foi - This was the best and least expensive!  They made a meatless curry-like legume dish - cabbage, carrots, and potatoes.  Also served us bannan pese, beans and rice, and goat.  I had a Malta to drink.  Cost 250gd, or $6, each.  (A member of the group is also the owner's son-in-law, so maybe that was the reason for the price.  It was well worth more than the price).  Also, this would be a great place to stay overnight to go see the mangroves and beaches at the western tip of the peninsula.  Les Anglais also has a rich history of settlement by England.

Obama at Hotel La Foi

Hotel La Foi

Hotel La Foi


Friday, September 14, 2012

Bananaquits and cauliflory at AUC

On the AUC campus you can see both bananaquits and cauliflory!  Bananaquits are cute little yellow birds that I’ve seen before in Haiti, but not very often and only 1 or 2 at a time.  Here at AUC there are many – you can always find or hear a couple at a time.  They drink nectar and come to hummingbird feeders.  One hangs out in the coconut tree right off the 3rd floor balcony where we have dinner.  Every morning I watched it drinking at the coconut flowers (either nectar or dew, not sure).  Which made me notice the flowers turning into coconuts.

The white eye stripe of the bananaquit is distinct.
Cauliflory is the condition of fruit growing directly from a tree trunk, and is common in the tropics.  It’s an unusual sight for those who are used to seeing fruit hanging from the ends of branches.  It might occur because the fruit is too heavy for the branches.  Cacao is a cauliflorous fruit (and produces a better tasting food than cauliflower.).  This picture is a calabash tree growing on campus.

(And if you’re wondering why I haven’t been on facebook, lately we haven’t had internet on the 3rd floor where I live, so I go to the 2nd floor where the classrooms are and where facebook is blocked.)

Calabash tree on AUC campus.