Three weeks ago we arrived in Port-au-Prince to a warm welcome by a couple of our colleagues and to our new home. Today I wanted to share some photos with you of our home and give you a glimpse into our life here. First of all, we are truly blessed with a wonderful place to live. Thanks for all the prayers on our behalf leading up to our arrival in Haiti regarding housing. We were hoping to find a place that was furnished and close to work and that’s just what we have now! Happy reading:)
The bathroom tile brings a lot of vibrancy to the apartment! It is definitely that most colorful room in our home.
We are fortunate enough to have a small patio off the kitchen which is really nice. This is a shot of it looking out from the doorway. As you can see it gets lots of afternoon sun which is great for drying laundry. Port-au-Prince is very dense, so there are plenty of other homes around us. The background in the picture below is a little blurry but you are looking at mountains. Straight ahead, at the top of the mountain, is Boutelliers, a well known look out point. Plenty of beauty here in Haiti!
You’re looking at our mop bucket and washing machine! It also serves as our floral decoration. The property where we are living does have a washing machine (the real kind) but often it doesn’t work. That means we’re left to do it by hand. We don’t mind it too much, it is just a really good workout. Haitian women do it almost daily! Impressive.
Breakfast of champions! The one cereal you can probably find anywhere in the world. Also one of the many dried goods you can buy on the street here in Port-au-Prince. We found little packages of granola at one store that we sprinkle on top for some added flavor. There are dairy products in Haiti such as yogurt, milk, and cheese. However much of this is imported and therefore quite pricey even by North American standards. I did learn recently from a friend in Haiti that dairy cows do exist in country. According to an Oxfam newsletter in 2009, there are an estimated 270,000 milk producing cows in Haiti, mostly owned by individual farmers who may have 1-3 cows. That number is pre-earthquake, so it could be different now. Anyway, a bit of random information for you. We are learning new things all the time! All that to say that Martha and I use dried milk because it is cheaper and isn’t too bad actually. Corn flakes and dried milk make for a quick breakfast and also save on stove gas since we don’t need to cook anything.
Although our apartment includes everything we need, we had to bring along a couple things of ours to make it feel homey. This map shows places where we have each visited and reminds us of our great friends and family spread across the world.
The closet! No story for this one, just part of the little tour.
Language has honestly been a real challenge for us since arriving. English is not widely spoken in Haiti, which means we have plenty to learn! Our French is coming along however needs a lot of work. We are also trying to learn Haitian Creole. Yes, we experience many brain freezes. In order to help us learn vocabulary, we have taped little pieces of paper around the house with the items name in both French and Creole. I think its working..however I’m not sure why I remember fork but always forget soap. Maybe I need to shower more?
Oh ants. Martha grew up in Philippines, another tropical country, so she is an AMAZING resource to have around regarding things like dust, bleach, sunshine, and..ants. These seemingly pathetic critters are actually quite fierce (Martha’s laughing right now). They can detect any piece of edible material that I’m pretty sure humans cannot even see; and then they tell their friends about it. The picture to the right shows you one remedy when ants get into stuff. You put a little water in a tub, then put a plate on top of a bowl for example with whatever the ants got into on the plate (in our case, sugar). For whatever reason, the ants come out of the bag of sugar and run off the plate into the water! I don’t get it, but it works.
Ant pow wow..planning their attack (look close).
Rice and beans are definitely staples in Haiti. Here are some veggies that we’ve been adding to our rice and bean concoctions lately. The reason they are in the dish rack is because we just sanitized them with bleach water. You don’t know where the veggies have been, so its just an extra precaution we take. Many things you can find on the street from one of the many women selling veggies and everything else you can imagine. At least 70% of Haitians (l’ve heard its more like 90%) earn their income from the ‘informal’ economy. The market women are part of that demographic.
Food is not cheap in Haiti; and due to Hurricane Sandy a few months ago which destroyed around 70% of the countries crops, prices have been on the rise. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has estimated that 2.1 million people in Haiti will face severe food insecurity in 2013. That is around one fifth the country’s population. Obviously this has a huge impact on Haitian family’s ability to put food on the table. Thankful each day for the food we’re blessed with.
Well that’s the tour. I hope you have a little better idea of what life is like for us here in Port-au-Prince. We are still adjusting, but each day we are learning more (with the grace of God). Haiti is an amazingly interesting and lively place. Looking forward to sharing more with you in the coming months and years.