Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just a Trip to the Store

I maneuver the cruiser through the twisted streets, keeping an eye out for Christine, but I don't see her. A minute later I've reached the large orange gate of Eagle Market but it's firmly shut. Maybe the other gate is open on the Delmas side I think to myself and edge my way out onto the main street. This is the first time I've seen the main road in 5 days. The pavement is black with soot, a rogue dumpster sits on an awkward angle, half on the sidewalk, half on the street and I can still see the treads of numerous burnt tires. Expressionless people stand around, but since they haven't formed into a mob, I decide it's safe to proceed. Nervously I drive on, and it doesn't take me long to see that the second gate is closed as well. I wonder where Christine is? I muse. I didn't see her walking along the side of the road and now Eagle is closed. I quickly dial her number but get a busy tone. A few seconds later she calls back to say that the guards, seeing a white girl waiting outside the closed gate quickly let her in. You can come in too," she says. "Just park somewhere alongside the road." I quickly make a U-turn since traffic is light and find a spot to park in front of a closed pharmacy. Before I get out I double check to see if my money is still in my one pocket and my cellphone in the other. I then grab my taser off the seat beside me and hop out of the cruiser. On the edge of the road I look both ways and then make a quick dash to the center divider. My flip flops slap rhythmically against the blackened pavement. One more dash and I've made it to the gate. It's locked so I wait as a Haitian man knocks on the gate. You can't come in, he's told through a slit in the side and the man then walks away. I try to edge closer to the slit so that the guards can see me, but I can't get the right angle. What to do? People stare at me as I wait, making me nervous so I decide to call Christine again. No answer. Just then another Haitian man walks up and opens a slider window in the gate. When the guards catch sight of me through the slider they quickly ease open the gate and pull me in. A second later I'm standing smack dab in front of Christine. We look at each other and grin. Haiti is so weird, sometime you just have to laugh. I look around and notice that instead of the usual two guards there are now 8, and they look serious and heavily armed. The wife of the owner of the store, spotting us, immediately commands us to move away from the gate. She looks very nervous. "As if someone is going to shoot us through the crack." I joke to Christine, and we both laugh again. "You can't go in yet." The owner's wife then tells us. "Just wait there." She points to a spot just in front of the store so we oblige. A few minutes later she tells us we can come in. With our grocery carts ready we split up and start shopping. What to get? I wonder. I didn't make a list and I'm not sure if I'm shopping for a few days or several weeks. There's so much uncertainty. We're on Stage 2 of our evacuation plan meaning we have to have our suitcases ready, but that doesn't mean we're going anywhere. If things escalate we need to be ready to leave quickly, but if not, we need to have enough food to last us for several weeks. There's no saying if grocery stores will stay open and if we have to lay low for awhile we need to stock up. Looking at the rows of grocery I get this weird almost panicky feeling inside me. What if I forget something important? Pushing those thoughts aside, I get to work filling my cart with fruits, vegetables, eggs, spaghetti sauce, noodles, bread, flour, milk, toilet paper, dish washing liquid and laundry soap. When I'm finally ready to pay at the checkout counter I realize I didn't bring enough money so I quickly scan my cart and then put some items aside. The clerk is kind enough to give me a 5% discount so I can almost purchase everything I've picked out. By now, the front gate has been pushed open and the store becomes increasingly busy. Leaving the store, I look curiously at the determined and focused expressions of those coming in to shop. That's probably what I looked like too while I shopped I decide, smiling now. Once the groceries are all loaded I drive Christine the short distance back to her house. A few minutes later I'm home again too and a relieved Anoud quickly pushes the gate open for me. Since Jason is back at work today, Jayden is playing outside with Denise's boys. "Come inside to Mom", I yell to him, before I push open the door and get ready to stow away our supplies.


  1. Will, you are a very brave trooper! We pray for the Lord's continued care over you all.

  2. Next time, I'll bring flares so you can find me better!!

  3. Scary!!!

    Hope things will get better! You take care ok?

    Love the Jansens