Monday, November 28, 2011

A Letter From Jayden

Dear Grandpa & Grandma, Oma & Opa

Finally a letter from me again! In exactly one month we hope to fly all the way to Canada and I can't wait to see you and my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends! I am very excited!

Last week Wednesday, Daddy, Mommy and I flew to Santiago! I was so excited I talked about nothing else that whole week and barely slept the night before we left. That morning, I kept coming out even though it was dark, and asking Mom if it was time to go yet.

Mom was not so happy about that!

Oh well, we both got up early and packed our bags. Mom even made a pilot uniform for me, so I could look just like Dad.

Although flying airplanes is pretty cool,

It can be exhausting!

I think I might become a paleontologists anyway. I fly all the time, nothing to exciting about that!

A paleontologist on the other hand studies dinosaurs and their fossils! Now that is interesting! Did you know that the hadrosaur had as many as 2,000 teeth? And that there were dinosaurs the size of chickens? And that paleontologists have discovered fossils of a velociraptor and a proceratops in battle, moments before they were buried in a sandstorm?

I spend so much time looking at the pictures and getting mom to read ALL the facts that I sometimes fall asleep with my dinosaur books!

Anyway, back to our Santiago trip. Since both Daddy and Mommy and Uncle Anthony and Auntie Sher had some time off because of US Thanksgiving, we thought it would be the perfect time to get together! Especially considering we do live on the same island and all!

I have to say it is pretty handy having a Dad who is a pilot. All we had to do was jump in the MAF airplane and in less then 1 hour we were in Santiago!

Uncle Anthony and Mattais came to pick us up at the Santiago airport and it was great catching up with them.

Since there is a not a lot for kids to do at their apartment we decided to make the short drive to the beach and spend two days there. I had great fun burying Kaelie's feet in the sand.

Later when Kaelie got an ice cream cone, she shared it with me.

Besides playing in the waves and building sandcastles, we also participated in a bow and arrow contest.

Mom, Dad, Uncle Anthony and Auntie Sher tried some target practice. It's a little scary seeing Mommy with a gun isn't it?

At the beach there was also kayaks and catamarans that we could use for free.

Dad and Uncle Anthony spent many hours boating. After one particularly rough afternoon out on the ocean in their kayaks we had to drag Dad back in.

Once we rolled him out,

It was our turn!

One night while we were there, they let Kaelie and I dress up. Kaelie had a butterfly outfit and I was allowed to wear a little dwarf outfit.

From 2011

At first I didn't want to because the beard tickled and I was tired, but Mom talked me into it.

While Dad and Uncle Anthony had cappuccinos and talked all about what life was like in Haiti and the Dominican,

Mom and Auntie Sher spent hours talking about babies.

Anyway, I had a great time with my cousins, so great in fact, I've used up my voice!

That's why computers come in handy I guess!

That's all for now! Can't wait to see you and hope you liked my letter.

XOXO Jayden

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Great Ending To A Not So Great Morning

Blackness crowds around me and with my last strength I try to fight it before it overtakes me.

I can’t see.

Barely able to put one foot in front of the other I lean heavily on the French man holding me up. “I can’t see,” I whisper hoarsely, the words barely forming through stiff lips.

Saturday morning had started early. Fasting for twelve hours for a routine glucose test wasn’t my idea of fun, and I was hungry. Since Medlab is open 24-7, I wasted no time filling my water bottle, grabbing a few snacks for later, slipping a book into my bag and heading out to the car. Turning the key into the ignition the numbers on the dashboard clock glowed 6:10.

The roads were thankfully quiet, and the short trip to Medlab took under 10 minutes, nothing like the previous day when Jason and I spent 2 hours battling traffic to get there. No signs indicated that where I turned in was a hospital, but it was. Although Canopy Verte Hospital suffered from earthquake damage it was still functioning.

Early morning sunshine added a serene glow to the surroundings, but I barely dared look up to enjoy the beauty. The cobblestones on the parking lot had sprung loose during the earthquake and I now focused on not tripping over the convoluted parkway.

Paying no attention to the cracks in the walls I pushed open the door to the lab. At this time of morning the waiting room was deserted. Looking towards the back I was thankful to see that the French man that had been working there the previous day was there again. At least he spoke a little English since I didn’t know very many French or Creole medical terms. Recognizing me, he headed over to the desk and helped the attendant fill out the correct paperwork for my glucose test.

Once the forms were filled out he directed me to a chair inside where another attendant jabbed me with a needle for a blood sample. Thankfully she had no trouble finding my vein and after a few minutes she was finished.

When I was ready the French man passed me a bottle of orange colored glucose water and instructed me to drink it and wait one hour. Checking the time on my phone I obeyed his instructions and prepared to wait. Pulling my book out of my bag, I relished the thought of one hour of uninterrupted reading time. As I read my attention strayed every now and then to the increasingly busy waiting room. Mom’s with babies, husbands and wives and men in various uniforms joined me, waited for their turn to do various tests, and then left again.

From behind the pages of my book I felt the occasional curious stare. Both my white skin and the fact that I was reading made me an object of interest. Looking around I noted that there was no magazine racks or any other reading material in view.

When my hour was up, the waiting room had emptied again and the only people left were one man and two pregnant women. The French man seeing I was ready for my second test, directed me to a new attendant.

This time around things didn’t go so well. Not being able to find my vein the attendant began to dig around my arm with her needle. Feeling intense pain in my arm, I bit my lip and grimaced.

“Sa fe mal?” (That hurts?) The attendant questioned, concerned.


She pulled the needle out, loosened the ribbon around my upper arm and massaged the area where my main vein was located. Then she tried again. No blood filled her syringe the second time either and I tried not to cry as she hunted around with her needle.

Weak with lack of food, the intense pain in my arm now caused my head to spin and my stomach to turn. Noticing my discomfort the French man was beside me in a second and tried to reassure me.

“Why don’t you try her other arm?” He spoke in French to the attendant. She nodded and thankfully this time it worked. By the time she was finished I felt really sick and nauseous, so the French man offered to help me inside the lab to a bathroom there. What I wanted to do was lie down, but noting the dirty floor, I decided against it.

As the French man helped me up and back out of the waiting room, the tiny still functioning part of my brain noticed the shocked expression of the Haitian man still waiting for his blood test results. I must look really bad.

To get to the bathroom we had to make our way through the hallway and barely conscious I stumbled along.

Now, darkness crowds around me and with my last strength I try to fight it before my eyes are overcome and my world goes black.

Why did I not ask Jason to come with again? I groan, not remembering the last time I felt this miserable.

Thankfully, by the time we reach the tiny bathroom my vision begins to clear again and I find a place to sit. The French man pushes a garbage can towards me and then steps out to give me some privacy. Laying my head down on my lap I slowly begin to feel better.

A few minutes later the French man returns with a kind smile. “You look better!” He says. “Your lips were white but now they are red again. Don’t go home yet though. Just wait in the waiting room till you feel better.”

I nod my thanks and then slowly make my way to a bench. After a few minutes I felt better and head over to the car for some snacks. The food and water restore me and when I feel ready, I carefully drive home.

Walking up the stairs a concerned Jason meets me at the door.

“How come you’re walking so weird?” He questions and I grimace.

“I don’t feel so good,” I mutter, collapsing on the couch. I tell him what happened and he shakes his head and then quickly gets to work making me some breakfast.

An hour and a half later I feel much better and head over to my friend’s house for the baby shower she is hosting for me. Fresh fruit and delicious apple cinnamon cake is laid out on the table, along with assorted muffins, juices and teas. We play games and then my friends spoil me with baby gifts and money to purchase things for him/her in Canada.

“A great way to end a not so great morning!” I sigh, sharing my Medlab incident with them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mole St. Nicolas

Some days, life is almost normal. Like the Saturdays Jason has off and we sleep in a little, eat a leisurely breakfast, do odd jobs around the house and have soap fights while washing the car.

Sometimes we’ll go for a swim at a nearby pool or get take out from Epidor, a Haitian-American style fast food place close to our home. We always joke that it’s not a place to eat if you’ve recently been to Canada or the US, but the longer you’re in Haiti, the better the food tastes.

Other days, life more resembles an article out of an adventure magazine and last Saturday was one of those days. It happened like this:

Jason was scheduled to have Saturday off. MAF flies Saturdays so the pilots take turns taking that day off.

Friday morning my phone rings; it’s Jason. “Will, Bernard asked if I could fly him to Mole St. Nicolas on Saturday with two business associates. He realizes it’s my day off, but said that you and Jayden could come with as well. What do you think?”

“That would be awesome! I would love to come! It’s one of the three airstrips in Haiti that I haven’t visited yet!”

“Great! I hate to tell him no and I think it would be fun too!”

See, Haiti is a warm climate culture, meaning relationships are very important. Bernard has become a good friend in these last three years and helped us out in numerous ways, not the least, getting Jason released from a Haitian prison two years ago after a serious accident involving a pedestrian. Although we can never repay him for all he has done, we like to take any opportunity that does arise and this is one of those opportunities.

The next morning when I wake up it’s still dark. Baby K is kicking up a storm in my stomach and I smile as I put my hand on my belly. I love the feeling of new life and at six months now, I feel him/her kicking constantly.

With no alarm clocks, I’m unsure of the time, but I guess it must be around 5:00 a.m. That’s when Baby K usually wakes up.

Since there is a lot to do, I decide to get up and start prepping. I fill our backpack with sunscreen, towels, swimsuits, extra clothes, granola bars, water bottles and my camera. Then when most things are packed I get out my Bible verse memory note book and study the words as the sun slowly peeks her head over the mountains.

At 6:00 a.m. Jason and Jayden get up and after a quick breakfast of cheese on raisin toast we head to the car. With school out and few tap taps on the road we get to the airport in record timing. Since Bernard and his associates haven’t arrived yet, we wait in the office and Jayden gets to work emptying the backpack he packed all by himself. Out comes 40 plastic animals a T-shirt and a pair of shorts.

“Wow Jayden! You really did come prepared,” I joke as he gets to work arranging his animals on the desk.

He turns and smiles proudly at me. He loves doing things by himself. A double dosage of a gene he received from both his parents.

Not long after, Bernard arrives with Sebastian and Lionel. We head out to the tarmac to Jason, who had meanwhile been prepping the airplane for takeoff. Just then Christine walks over to say an emergency flight has come up and if Jason could do a pick-up in Cap Haitian for a man in a coma.

“Sure. Why don’t I drop everyone off at Mole St. Nicolas and then head down, pick up the patient in Cap Haitian and fly him back to Port au Prince. After I’ve unloaded the patient I’ll head back to Mole.”

“Sounds good. I’ll let the doctors and medical staff in Cap Haitian know that you are coming.”

Ten minutes later with all safety and pre-flight checks completed we are air bound. I love flying and keep my eyes glued to the window as the landscape changes beneath us.

55 minutes later the Mole airstrip comes in sight. A narrow gravel road? Really?

I shake my head in amazement as Jason circles over and then executes a text book landing.

We deplane and Jason makes quick work of unloading our backpacks. Before readying the aircraft for takeoff once again we take a quick family shot on the wing.

Several minutes later we wave goodbye to him and then watch as a police car pulls up.

“That’s our ride!” says Bernard, and I do my best to squelch a giggle.

“Hmm, this should be interesting.”

Two police officers greet us with friendly handshakes and “Bonjou’s.” Then noticing I’m pregnant they insist I sit up front. Bernard helps Jayden into the back as I get comfortable in the front passenger seat. As we are about to leave police officer number two makes motions to sit up front as well.

“I can sit in the back, if you would like to sit here,” I say in Creole motioning to the empty spots on the benches in the back.

“Oh no.” The officer replies. “There’s plenty of room here!” I shake my head and move over towards the gearshift. Not the most comfortable position but it will have to do. Personal space boundaries don’t really exist here either.

We bump over a rough gravel road until we reach a mountain of saab.

Saab is a white looking rock used for building purposes. Sebastian and Lionel who speak English, French and Creole fluently ask the officers to stop and the police car screeches to a halt. I’m thankful for the handle conveniently located over the glove box to steady myself.

Lionel and Sebastian own a brick making company in Port au Prince and are here to look at re-opening a limestone mine in Mole St. Nicolas. If they can re-open this mine, it would create hundreds of jobs for the people of Mole, something that’s sadly lacking here, and I’m excited to be part of this.

Looking through the window I watch as the two men now get to work filling bags with samples of saab.

With the back door still hanging open the police car suddenly jerks forward.
“Where are you going?” the officer on the right questions the one on my left. The car comes to a fast halt.

“The two men haven’t come back!”

Embarrassed the officer driving wipes his brow. Then the two of them burst out laughing. I can’t help but laugh too as the officer driving now sheepishly waits for the two men to return.

A few minutes later Lionel and Sebastian return and we make our way over to the town of Mole. It’s very picturesque and from the hilltop we are on, I take photos as best as I can while leaning over the police officer on my right.

Once in the town we stop at the old mayor’s house. Since Lionel and Sebastian’s meeting is with him, we leave them at the house and then pile into a gator.

We pass the town center, remnants of forts,

and cross narrow wooden bridges.

Palm trees wave overhead as a gentle breeze plays with our hair.

Several minutes later we arrive at Columbus beach. The bright turquoise water beckons through the trees and in no time at all we dig our toes into the powdery white sand.

This two mile stretch of beach is called Columbus beach because apparently this is the beach where Christopher Columbus landed in 1492.

Rumor has it that he named the area Mole St. Nicolas after the mole on St. Nicolas nose. If nothing else, Christopher Columbus did have a sense of humor!

Although Mole St. Nicolas has no functioning hotels, there is a small restaurant with bathrooms located right off the beach. Jayden and I make fast work of changing into our swimsuits and then dip our toes into the pristine ocean.

The water is perfect. After a quick dip I lay out my towel as Bernard plays with Jayden in the gentle waves.

With no tourism the only others on the beach are Haitian children. The older kids wear shorts or underwear as the younger kids run around totally naked.

Looking at the untouched scenic beauty I imagine what it was like for Christopher Columbus. It really doesn’t look like anything has changed over these last 500 years.

Keeping my eyes on Jayden, I lay back and simply relax. Soft yellow butterflies flit around me as the waves gently lap near my feet. It’s so peaceful here.

After an hour of playing and jumping in the waves, Jayden makes friends with several Haitian boys. Together they make sand cakes on the beach and I watch amused as Jayden then teaches them to sing ‘Happy Birthday'.

All his plastic animals are soon invited to the party too and the boys have fun playing.

At noon, I hear the hum of an airplane overhead and watch as Jason circles and lands. 15 minutes later he joins us and we swim and play in the water.

An hour later it’s time for lunch and we head back to the Mayor’s house for a delicious meal of fish, rice and beans and plantains.

Jayden is a little worried when he sees the eye still in the fish and keeps cautioning the others not to eat the eye.

When I let him try a piece of fish he quickly spits it out with a tiny bone. Since the rice and beans are quite spicy I finally dig out a granola bar for him which he gobbles down. Later he brags how he ate fish that had an eye! Funny kid!

After lunch we explore the mayor’s house and sit on the balcony overlooking the town. Bright flowering trees hang over the railing offering both shade and beauty. When Lionel and Sebastian have finished their meetings we head back to the gator for a ride to the airport.

On the way we stop to chat with a friend of Bernard. As he waits Jayden makes himself comfortable behind the wheel.

Ten minutes later we’re on our way again. Tall gorgeous cacti loom all around us as we zip over narrow gravel roads. Back in the airplane we fasten our seat belts and get ready for takeoff. As the airplane taxis on the narrow runway a donkey charges out of a nearby stand of cacti. Jason veers to miss it and we pull up safely. Closing my eyes, I silently pray for a safe flight home.

Not long into the flight Jayden falls asleep beside me. Nearing Port au Prince I watch as the sun slowly descends.

What a beautiful day!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Join us for Dinner

Click. The light is turned off, leaving only the glow of freshly lit candles to pierce the darkness.


"Mom, can we eat dinner with the lights off? Please Mom? Please?"

"Well, we can hardly see what we're eating! Maybe, if I turn the little light on the desk on too."

I reach over to switch on the desk lamp and point it towards the dining room table. The light casts waving shadows on the wall.

"I love it, I love it!" an excited four-year old jumps up and down on his way to his booster seat.

"Dad, time to eat! Look at the candles!!"

Jason joins us at the table and together we sit down and pray. After prayer I pick up a serving spoon and ladle a portion of an unidentifiable substance onto each of our plates.

"What is this?" Jason questions. Lifting a fork full to his nose.

"Umm.. Slop!"


"Well I'm not sure what to call it! It's frozen leftovers that I added some spaghetti sauce to!"

"Slop?" Jayden now questions, echoing his father.

Suddenly we all burst out laughing.

Jason reaches over to pour the juice and the shadows on the wall move. He puts the juice down and begins to make dinosaurs shadows with his hands. Entranced Jayden stares. Then slowly he lifts his little hand.


"Mom that dinosaur is eating me!" He starts to giggle.

The big dinosaur shadow begins to moan and howl.

"Mom, mom, I'm scared!"

"Okay guys! Enough. Eat your slop!"

We all start laughing again.

"Eat your slop!" Jayden repeats starting to giggle uncontrollably now.

Finally, we all dig in.

Silence reigns.

"Slop actually tastes pretty good." Jason says reaching for a second helping.

Who would have guessed?

Find out for yourselves. Join us for dinner!