Mission Report Haiti: A Thousand Deaths

If your heart jumped at the title. Calm down. This one isn’t serious either. I really just titled it as such so that you could find out something about yourself and learn an important lesson about jumping to conclusions. Padekwa.

We went back to DaJabon again. I forgot to mention that the guy I went with, Nene (speaks Spanish, not English), was telling me about this DaJabon place and the market for about a week before we actually went the first time. He talks real fast with kind of a lazy accent and leaves out entire syllables where he feels they are unnecessary. As spanish is my second language, or maybe you could call it a one and a half language, this makes things tough sometimes. So the whole week he’s telling me about DaJabon. In Spanish, jabón means soap. I didn’t even realize he was talking about the name of the city. So I was under the impression for quite sometime that we were going to the border to get some kind of special soap that only the Dominicans know how to make or import properly. Imagine my surprise when we got a giant case of hot dogs instead. I was like, this is some weird ass soap.

So this trip was another hot dog run. Truth be told, for me, it was a fried chicken run. For all I cared, the entire world supply of soap hot dogs could have dried up and I would have been A-OK. But I would endure untold peril to get certain comfort foods at this point. The following photos should nicely prove the lengths I’m willing to go. For a little over two hours today, this was my nightmare.

Now if you look carefully at the facial structure and ample cheekbones (maybe bones is the wrong word) of the lady sitting snugly to my anatomical left, you can deduce that she weighs more than 300 lbs. And the way I’m sitting there, all rotated and slipped in like I’m a greeting card in the rack, that was permanent. Even though the photos fail to capture the full attendance to this vanning event (Scrubs reference), there were 25 people, and a guy on the roof. Taking the photos was quite a task because when the idea came to me my phone was still in a zippered pocket in my pants somewhere on the leg I was certain used to be around here somewhere which had fallen asleep 20 minutes prior with no hope of revival. Not the tingly, annoying kind of asleep. The left this dimension, no longer there kind of asleep. I’m not a small guy. But I amazed even myself with the contortion I managed. What used to be my beautiful, child bearing pelvis is now a shell of it’s former glorious self. In case you’re wondering, the ride was one dollar and twenty five cents. I guess, what did I expect, meal service? No less than three people managed to eat meals on the drive. They brought it themselves. Two of them were fried chicken. Sort of support for what I’ve been saying this whole time.

The photos, regrettably, were only on the trip back. I felt compelled to take them because this was a repeat from the trip there. Please imagine the Dos Equis guy for the following portion of this post. I don’t always go to Haiti and ride in 15 passenger vans crammed 25 deep on the way to the Dominican border for hot dogs, but when I do, I always sit between a lady packing at least a deuce and a half and the wall of the van with only one of my cheeks on the seat and both of my legs in full on polio mode. If its any consolation (it wasn’t), she smelled phenomenal. I’m not being facetious.

Once I bit into that wonderful chicken though, it was all worth it. I would have died a thousand deaths. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Consider this blog of the postmodern variety. Because now I’m gonna jump from the end of the trip to the beginning. You know what? Forget I mentioned that. A good postmodern writer wouldn’t tell you where they were going next.

So we going to the border. This time I know the routine. I’m in my element. I own this place (Dominican Republic). And since, as you all know, we don’t do the same gag twice, I wanted to take a shot at this border crossing business. So I flashed the border guard my passport, pointed at Nene and said “Translator.” Boom. In. That was anticlimactic, I realize. But it brings me perfectly to my next point. I’m considering withdrawing from PA school and become a smuggler. I only worked, in some respects, my entire life toward PA school. But I’m a natural at this coyote thing. If I don’t get a sign from God herself in the next week that I should stay in PA school, I’m buying a moving van with false floors.

I’ve been putting out a lot of juju about the stark dirtiness of the cities. And it may seem that I’m a bit biased. And perhaps I’m failing to illustrate why it’s worth getting involved with Haiti. So as a counterpoint to all that, I offer these snapshots. iPhone photos don’t really do it justice. Really, no photos do. But you get the gist. This kind of stuff is everywhere. We’re humanitarians, not environmentalists. But this is a small part of what draws us into the rural areas to try and help out.

In other news, there is a flourishing, new industry in Haiti. No one expected it. But once they dubbed Mad Men into Creole and imported it to this great nation, the advertising, marketing, and design industries on this half of this little island in the Atlantic just became absolutely leviathan. They’ve been hard at work churning out material that is on the microscopically sharp cutting edge of design. Before you check out this next photo, grab some sunglasses. Shit is so bright it might burn the retinas out of your vision globes:

The key to any good advertising is that it feels familiar. Even if its the first time you’ve ever seen it, it gives you that sense that you’re connected to it. It reminds you of good memories from home, years past. It induces a nostalgia while being completely, unadulteratedly new and exciting. Oh wait. They just put a black face with a jerry curl on the Pillsbury dough boy. My original assertion still stands. Genius.

So we eat our fried chicken. We get some parts, probably for the motorcycle we rode in on, and we pack our doomsday stash of Dominican hot dogs. Then we go to the grocery store. The ladies who are kind enough to look after me back in Haiti are running low on vegetable oil. So hey, I’ll pick some up no problem. That’s when I discover that in the 3 hours between the time I saw the Eazy-E doughboy and the time we made it to the grocery store where the guy at the door stands with his finger on the trigger of his shotgun the entire time, the Dominican Republic has stepped up its marketing game, perhaps in an effort to answer Haiti’s aggressive push.

I only have one, two part question. When did we start eating our sugary breakfast cereal with vegetable oil and why the fuck didn’t anyone tell me about it sooner? I mean, I’m over here like a common idiot, with a sunburn, eating my sugary breakfast cereal with just plain old milk, when I could be upping the ante on saturated trans fats and hyper processed, probably environmentally friendly food products, which would probably also cure my sunburn. Not help. Cure. Learning about this is like when I first learned to tie my shoes. An incredible new world opened up to me. So there’s that. Good job DR. Your move Haiti. Can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow.

Um, did I mention all these discoveries happened because of a quest for more fried chicken? Those that would risk much, gain much. Dominican Republic was awesome this time. I talked to a lot more people. I’m really coming out of my shell. Probably it’s just that the part of my brain that inhibits me socially is ischemic and dying as a result of internal bleeding because my pelvis is broken in several places. Did you know you can lose like liters of blood from a broken pelvis? I did. But it was worth the risk. Fried chicken. So I was talking to people and they were getting a kick out of it because now I don’t even speak Creole or Spanish anymore. I speak Screolnish. There’s true diversity here, now that I’ve arrived. Blacks, latinos, and a white. But when I say a sentence in Screonlish, the black guys who speak Creole and the latino guys who speak Spanish put their heads together and figure out what I’m saying. It was the first time I experienced true international cooperation. And it was beautiful. Then I crab walked out of there. Selman verde. Selman verde. Selman verde.

1 comment for “Mission Report Haiti: A Thousand Deaths

  1. pb
    05.03.13 at 21:55

    Got a text from dog. No, wait. It was god. Said to stand by. And to stop chewing the chicken so loud and listen.

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