21 January 2012

Funny food

Am I missing something here? Aren't all beans vegetarian? Isn't hair dead? Shouldn't pop be...tasty?

20 January 2012

Car shopping, round two...

One week ago today, I was on a mission. A mission to find a vehicle. A mission to put to good use all the generous gifts that our friends have given...a mission that morphed into a journey. A journey that's led me all over Port-au-Prince...a journey that may soon have an end...

Having grown up in a Toyota family, I knew where my first stop would be: the only Toyota dealer in the Caribbean. In typical Haiti fashion, the door you can see in this picture was closed for business...you had to go around the side. I walked into the showroom with a highly polished floor and cubicles hiding whatever employees might be hiding. I stood there for a minute. No one. This was feeling a lot like Monday (if you don't know what I'm talking about, read this post). I decided to be bold...I peeked into a cubicle and found an employee.

She asked me to sit down in French, and then asked if I preferred English. I started to breathe again. After a short conversation, I found out a few important facts:

1) They don't have any used cars. (Strike one.)
2) New cars take four to six months to order. (Strike two.)
3) I was $10,000 too poor to buy their cheapest car. (I'm out.)

I thanked the nice lady for her time. At least she didn't laugh in my face.

My second stop is unpictured...because I had to slam on my brakes to get into the gate. There were so many used cars in the parking lot that there was--wait for it--no parking lot. At least it was a good sign. Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols, Suzuki Vitaras...but being imported from the Dominican Republic, they had a lot of miles on them. I passed.

Next was SunAuto...another very nice lady had some new Hyundai Tuscons to sell me, but no used cars. However, we were getting closer on the price...I was only $4,000 short. I took her card.

Then, on my way to my next appointment, I passed a rental car company, and remembering what a friend had told me, I stopped in. They had two cars for sale: a white pick up truck and a blue Mitsubishi Montero. Pick up trucks are kind of a liability here, because people will jump in the back for a free ride--whether you want them to or not. There's an American here who had someone jump into the back of his truck while it was moving...the Haitian guy lost his balance and fell out. He died. His family sued the American guy...and won. I passed on the pickup truck.

But the Montero looked good. Like, really good. The air conditioner worked. It was a manual transmission, which are easier to get parts for when I beat the snot out of this car on our bumpy roads. It's never been in an accident. It only has 42,000 miles on it, which isn't bad for a rental car here. And best of all, I could almost afford it...I sat in this office and waited to talk to someone who could give me more information.

I admit--I went to two other places after that, but my heart wasn't in it. I called David to see if he could come see it right then, but he was flying. (What's that? You say pilots are supposed to fly on work days? I suppose you have a point.) So I dragged myself home and brought him back on Saturday...

...and on Monday, I brought my boss back...

...and on Thursday, MAF headquarters started the money transfer...

It's happening, people. We're buying a car. And I'm really excited about it.

We haven't signed the papers yet, but we're this close...please pray for a happy ending to our car-buying story! 

09 January 2012

Car shopping, round one

After too much "cruising-the-Internet" looking and not enough "put-on-your-shoes-because-we're-going-out" looking...on Monday, we went car shopping.

We headed up to Petionville to a place called Kavoom! They're near my favorite grocery store, and they've often posted cars online that are similar to what we're looking for. All morning, we'd been making a list of essential and non-essential characteristics for a car.

Four-wheel drive with self-locking hubs? Essential. I've been stuck in a river once on the way to Cap Haitian, and without self-locking hubs, it could've been ugly.

Power locks? Essential. Nobody wants me to get kidnapped. I'd be a horrible hostage.

Air conditioning? Essential. And this one seems pretty self-explanatory.

We agreed that it needed to be a model we can get parts for, and we were willing to compromise on manual vs. automatic. (If only this city wasn't built on a series of mountains. Oy.)

Upon arriving in Petionville, we found Kavoom! (I love writing that.) There was no parking. We passed one spot on a one-way street, but couldn't get back to it. (Don't you hate that?) Finally, we pulled up onto the sidewalk in front of a bank, put it into park and called it good. (We only did it because we saw a Haitian guy do the same thing. When in Rome, right?)

Two blocks up and two blocks over, we found Kavoom! again. The small lot had cars parked so close they were touching. The big metal gate was open. We decided to take the opportunity to look around before someone started hassling us. There was a Jeep that looked like it was in good shape, but peeking in the window, I couldn't see the mileage. It was time to go in search of someone to hassle me.

I walked into the office, and an automatic doorbell rang. Good--someone would hear and come out...Nope. I knocked on the door to the inner office. Nothing. I peeked into the inner office windows. Empty. I stood in the doorway so the doorbell would ring some more. No effect. We hung around a few more minutes, but it was pretty obvious that no one was home.

So we left. Lesson Number One in Haiti Car Shopping: "Make an appointment."

Which brings me to Lesson Number Two...on the way back to the car, I remembered that a second place was on the same street we were on. One of us was determined to find it...the other tagged along as protection. We walked the street from top to bottom...and then from bottom to top. No dice. Lesson Number Two: "Bring directions."

Haiti 1, Harms 0.

I'm making appointments to go out again on Friday...prayers are much appreciated.

08 January 2012

Goats are weird

This goat's mother once wandered into my English classroom. I see the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

06 January 2012

Christmas Merry, Everybody!

Well, they had a fifty/fifty chance of getting the words in the right order...oops.