Sunday, December 20, 2015

La Fouchet restaurant Port au Prince Haiti

Magda with shrimp and fried plantains.
American friends of mine in Haiti occasionally talk about the ‘Embassy restaurant that has sushi.’  I finally got to go there, and was surprised at how close it is to the house I stay in when I fly in and out of Haiti.  Apparently the residents go there often, but had never mentioned it to me!  La Fouchet is located on Blvd. 15 Octobre, Tabarre 43, near the US Embassy and the large MSC construction store.  It is on the property of a hotel/apartment complex called Executive Villas.  Park and follow the sign back to the restaurant.  Seating is open air under a roof and by the pool.  The vegetarian Caterpillar Rolls were excellent (California roll with avocado, cream cheese, and tempura onion).  I also had passion fruit juice and flan for dessert.  My friend had a shrimp dish with fried plantain and ice cream.  They also have breakfast, steak, burgers, pizza, pasta, and some Mediterranean dishes (for the Jordanian UN?).  Prices were reasonable for a nice meal.  Service was fast for Haiti!  I would definitely go back, especially after almost 2 months of rice and beans.  
Look for the entrance on the corner.

Walk past the little apartments or hotel rooms.

Caterpillar roll and passion fruit juice with pool-side seating.

Sushi and dessert menu
The restaurant
Pool rules - what is the one above the wine glass?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Birding with the cave children

Antillean Mango posing for the kids.
Last year I taught in a small village that sits away from any roads and is a 20 minute walk from my house.  I don’t know if any foreigners pass through except to go to a nearby cave.  I forget how we fell into teaching in the yard of Goyo, the man who owns the cave (JeanJean always mentions that he owns some of the cave too!), but last year Louiders and I went to his house weekly to give one hour-long ecology lessons to the kids.  We recently began lessons again, and I decided to do something that seemed likely to be chaotic – take the random assortment of 30 kids, aged 2 to 18(?) years old, birding!  We had been taking the orderly elementary school classes at UCC out birding, so had some practice (see this post).  Birding at three in the afternoon also seemed risky, but we tried it anyway with great success.  The children shared the seven binoculars (thanks to everyone who donated them!).  We didn’t see many birds, but a hummingbird hung out with us long enough for us to see its curved beak indicating it was an Antillean mango, and black stripe indicating it was an immature male.  These pictures show the kids having fun!
Showing the little one how to use binoculars. The 2-holer in the background is what you think it is!

Stripe showing that this is a young male Antillean Mango.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Team Work

Teaching in the university here in Haiti has given me a chance to see the American church and medical teams that come to UCI.  In just 3 weeks I have seen 5 teams!  They ranged from an Iowa family of 5 with kids aged 8 to 12, to a California church team of 27 that included doctors, teens, school teachers, and a carpenter.  And as a special bonus a friend from Kansas was on a team!  Here are some pictures showing the range of things people can do here in Caiman and the surrounding community.  JeanJean and Kristie make sure the teams are going where they are most needed.  I’ve tagged along with the groups so that I could teach bats and birds to kids while the teams worked.  

On Sundays the teams make lunch so the cooks can have the day off.  Kansas Nate with the Nebraska team cooks.

The small CA team provided a cement floor to help the family avoid health problems caused by dirt floors.

I taught ecology while the team helped with the cement floor.

The Nebraska team performed a skit for kids.

The Men's Choir entertained the teams.

Dr. LeeAnn in a remote medical clinic.

Deanna and Tricia organized medical supplies in the new clinic at the UCI university.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Madam Zwazo* returns to the schools

Today I taught in a school in which I first taught in 2009.  I have been back almost every year since to teach about birds and bats.  This time I taught 175 kids about mosquitoes and the animals that control them – fish, frogs, and bats.  We learned the life cycles of each, and despite being taught that mama bats give birth to babies that drink mama’s milk, when asked where bats come from the students still said from old mice!

It was only last year that I understood the culture enough to begin to seeing the dynamics of the students and teachers at this school, and my host explained what was going on.  The little kids, preschool – 6th grade, have always been nice and polite.  The high schoolers were always rowdy and tough to teach, and now I know it is because their teachers often do not come to class.  The teachers don’t get paid regularly or it is very low pay, so they don’t even bother showing up.  Which means the students are just milling around causing trouble.  The 7th grade class with no teacher at least sat still enough for 20 minutes of ecology lessons!

*When introduced to the principle he said something about Madam Zwazo, so that is my name now.  

Teaching the 5th grade, with a teacherless class looking on.

Preschoolers showing the 4 steps of the mosquito life cycle.

The path to the school.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Elections Part 1

Haiti round 2 election results were released on Thursday.  Here are photos of the candidate posters as I left Port au Prince on Monday.  The guy with the largest billboards, Jude Celestin, is one of the finalists.  Final elections are in December - stay tuned for another blog post!

From a website:
With little surprise, Jovenel Moise, the candidate of outgoing President Michel Martelly, led Haiti’s presidential elections with almost 33 percent, followed by Jude Celestin, from the League for Progress and Haitian Emancipation, with 25 percent and Moises Jean-Charles, from Pitit Dessalines, in third place with 14 percent.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Back at UCCC

Today I began teaching again at UCCC in the central plateau of Haiti.  I am teaching general ecology, and biodiversity which is an advanced ecology class.  Since students didn't know I had arrived and only three showed up for the advanced class, we just spent some time getting to know each other, and finding out which students have to walk up to 2 hours each day to class.  Tomorrow starts the real classes.  I will teach both classes on Wednesdays, then the general eco class on Thursday, and the advanced class on Friday until we are caught up from me missing the first two weeks of the semester.  It is good to be back and easy to get back into the swing of things!

The translator and a student.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Watershed lesson in Haiti

While in Haiti for a scientific lake and stream expedition, I had the opportunity to teach a group of students that I had taught in 2012 (ornithology seminars) and 2013 (an ecology class) - the agronomy students at Institut Professionnel et de Formation Technique en Agronomie (IPFTA) in Les Cayes Haiti.  The previous week the students helped my boss and me survey the watersheds of Etang Douat and Etang Lachaux.  Then Don and I held a 2-afternoon class to teach more about the watersheds, using Project Based Learning which focuses on learning while doing a project rather than straight lecture.  The project was to draw watersheds, immediately after a 1 hr discussion by Don about what we observed in the lake watersheds, and again at the end of the 2nd day after learning what factors in the watershed cause contaminated drinking water.  The final watersheds were much more detailed than the first ones, and students demonstrated that they understood what land-use practices improve and degrade water quality.  Thank you teacher Decossard for translating!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ile a Vache Trip 2 – Port Morgan

Leaving Ile a Vache
For my birthday I chose to visit Ile a Vache and have lunch at Port Morgan.  See this past blog about the first trip and lunch at Abaka Bay.  We negotiated a boat for 4000 gds (about $80) round trip to take us to the island – it left from the same little wharf area as the previous trip, east of the main big wharf.  Some men carried us on their backs to a little wooden boat that took us out to the larger motorized boat.  We left shore around 9am and the ride took about 45 – 60 minutes.  They dropped us off at Abaka Bay resort despite asking for Port Morgan.  The Abaka staff descended on us hopeful for business, then chided us for using their port when we were going to Port Morgan.  We said we’d come back for drinks before we left.

To get to Port Morgan, a 30 minute easy walk, we cut through the field where the two helicopter pads are located (behind the tall white tower along the beach).  Keep to the main path which has solar street lights on it and it goes up and down a small hill, then you have to cross on some logs to get through a muddy area that is flooded during high tide.  The path winds through a colorful little village.  We had to double check the direction at an intersection in the village – head to the left toward the coast, and the path comes out along the bay for Port Morgan.  Follow the coast and main path through some mangroves and you’ll pop out at a concrete path that leads to the resort.

We ordered lunch then swam in the hotel pool for about an hour while waiting.  The pool and restaurant overlook the port, and the view is beautiful.  The food menu doesn’t have many choices, and if you want lobster or shrimp you have to order that morning so they can catch and prepare it.  We placed one order for lambi complete – a $36US meal that comes with rice and a very good bean sauce (saus pwa made with pwa kongo, pigeon pea), a salad of sliced tomatoes, onion, and cucumber in a vinaigrette, fried breadfruit and plantain, and fresh warm bread.  We ordered two $10US simple meals of just lambi.  I am a vegetarian so ordered French fries and sliced papaya and ate the sides of the complete meal.  Note that lambi is the mollusk conch and is endangered!  They are now catching the small lambi that are not yet of reproductive age.  We also had fresh orange juice.

We returned to Abaka Bay to swim at the beach, have some drinks and check out the new restaurant over the water.  Our boat which we arranged to pick us up at 4pm was still there, so we loaded up and headed back to Cayes.  At Cayes the little boat was gone, and no one wanted to get in the water to carry us to shore, so the captain got as close as he could and we got out in the water next to a trash pile and a pig wallowing in the surf.

Port Morgan menu

Pool at Port Morgan

Lambi complete meal

New restaurant at Abaka Bay

Monday, March 23, 2015

Biodiversity of Riviere Glace

Riviere Glace is a beautiful river than runs near the village of Duchity, a town about an hour's drive north of Les Cayes Haiti.  Along the river the highway is being widened and paved, and right before Duchity there is a new bridge.  Stop at this bridge and hike upstream along and through the river about 100 m and at a bend in the river you will come to a series of clear cool pools perfect for swimming on a hot day.  Unfortunately the road construction along this stretch threatens this pristine river.  Here are some photos of what the area looked like on 22 March 2015.

Epilobocera haytensis Rathbun, 1893

Deep pool at the bend (note the gabion) and riffles upstream (no gabion).

Gabion at the bridge.

Mayfly larvae on a rock in the river.

The deep pool at the bend in the river.

Two tadpoles and a damselfly larvae.

The view upstream from the pool.  Road-side bank is on the left and has no gabion.

View walking upstream from the bridge.  Note the calf (and cow) by the river!