26 April 2010


It’s Saturday afternoon, the first weekend in our new apartment. Having spent the morning trying to get good deals at the market (and failing fairly handily), I am breaking in my new broom while David plays soccer with the kids outside. They’re using a basketball that’s gone flat, and the sound it makes is distinctive. I thought I might not get a broom, so I’m enjoying it, even though the rough, unsanded handle is giving me a blister.


We actually went to market twice this week—once on Friday, with a friend’s house help, and once on Saturday, with a friend we practice Creole with. She insisted on coming with us, but I didn’t realize she was going to do our shopping for us, too…that led to an interesting moment where I started to walk away, and the gal got upset because I hadn’t paid for what was in my friend’s bag. I wish I could take you with me—it’s quite a scene. Older women squatting next to sheets and blankets and tarps full of produce—bananas, grapefruits, bunches of carrots, garlic, cornmeal, and beans, beans, beans. Young men with wheelbarrows, complete with umbrellas, filled with pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, lotions. Little girls selling matches. People sing or use loudspeakers to try to distinguish themselves—because everyone’s got the same thing for the same price, and it won’t all get bought. On my list today was some beans called pwa kongo, carrots, limes, and kerosene, for the lamp we use at night.


The new apartment has been an adjustment, to be sure. This Saturday, we have the first power we’ve seen in three days, and the sound of the refrigerator humming is strangely comforting. I know it will be off again soon, so I just put some water inside it—there’s a gas shortage that doesn’t show any sign of improving, so they may not run the generator during the day tomorrow, and I already lost some milk that way. The sun is creating long shimmering shadows through my window screens, and I can hear the wind picking up outside in the palms. There’s Latin music floating across the campus, but it’s not drowned out by my new broom’s scratching across our concrete floors. It can’t pick up the fine dust that covers it—that covers pretty much everything—but it’s an improvement, nonetheless.


Nearly finished, sweating, I lean on my broom and remember how I got it…I didn’t see any in the market, and I was too overwhelmed to care. But on the thirty-minute walk home from the market, I started to regret thatdecision. About five minutes from home, I saw a man headed toward the market with brooms to sell, and I stopped him. “How much?” I ask him in Creole. It’s ten goud—but all I had was a twenty, and he doesn’t have change. Given that I’m not headed back to the market for a week, I decide to spring for it. I missed his face as I walked away, but as I turned back, he was staring after me in amazement, profoundly grateful. Before you believe me to be generous, please be informed that, in American currency, I bought a 25 cent broom for 50 cents.


Finally done—just in time to start dinner…


Thanks for the prayers for us this week—I am feeling much better. I had a bad respiratory flu, but I seem to be fully recovered now. Please pray for us as we adjust to our new apartment here at the school, especially since real life is trying to crowd out language learning somewhat.


  1. Your blog is fascinating! Thank-you for sharing the challenges as well as the praises.
    We take for granted so many things here in the U.S. I think that you were smart for "splurging" on the broom. Some things are good for our mental health.

  2. WE love reading your blog, you are an excellent writer and it makes one feel like they are there. Keep up the good work and we are so glad you are feeling better.

  3. Glad to hear you're feeling better. And glad to hear you have a broom. That makes me happy. :)