15 July 2012

How the other half lives

I went to get a haircut on Friday. When I went in the States, it was never a source of anxiety...I booked with Kim, I went in, she cut, I paid. Bam. Shorter hair.

However, I only knew one lady who cut white people's hair in Port-au-Prince, and it seemed like our schedules never matched up. It got so bad that we finally had to go on vacation so I could get a haircut. A better solution had to be found.

Meet a better solution. This spa is located in a hoighty-toidy hotel in the hills of Petionville, and it gives you a glimpse into how the other half lives. We didn't come here when David's mom and grandma came to visit a few weeks ago, but we did go to another hotel with a nice restaurant for lunch. The look on Grandma's face was priceless--"I had no idea there were places like this in Haiti."

Yeah, they don't make very good news stories, so I can see how that happened. But more and more we realize that there's how most people live, and then there's how "the other half lives." Weirdly enough, even as "poor" missionaries, we're in the other half now. Sometimes that's uncomfortable...but sometimes, it's pretty great.

It was pretty great on Friday when I went to get my hair cut. It's now become kind of a mini-vacation, a respite--a small way to treat myself and escape for an hour. The waiting area has a waterfall. I turn off my phone. I take in the fresh flowers, the big comfy chair, the mature trees outside the floor-to-ceiling windows with colocasia climbing its way up their tall trunks. There's soft music playing involving wind chimes and a flute.

They call me in: "Madam 'arms?" (No one ever says my name right. "H" is a hard sound.) The first two times I went, I brought a picture--just to be safe. The receptionist asked me if I needed any help in communicating, and I said yes--the stylist, as it turns out, is from the Dominican Republic (where their hair is more like mine) and spoke only Spanish and a little French. I only speak English and Kreyol. Four languages, no overlap. I handed her the picture, taken just after my last haircut, and she smiled. The music  in the salon had changed to either 90's smooth rock or salsa music. I lay my head back in the reclined sink...the water's cold at first, but eventually warms up. She washes my hair with four different flowery-scented products...David's so lucky he's not a woman, because he hates "smelly stuff." In this case, I can't agree. I nearly fall asleep every time. Peanut must like it there too, because he was kicking away.

The stylist (I think her name is Belita?) talks rapidly to the bored lady who's supposed to be doing nails while she cuts. She hums along to the songs she knows in Spanish. A light-skinned Haitian lady in her 60's is having her toenails painted opposite me. We smile at each other, but can't communicate, either. Halfway through my haircut, she finishes, puts on a large white hat and leaves.

It's over too soon, but with good results--I didn't bring her a picture, and it's a little short, but I'm still quite happy with it. Vacation over--back to reality. And just for fun, here's another picture of my "work in progress:"

I go for a check up next week--can't believe it's already been 18 weeks!

Thanks for praying for us.

07 July 2012

The silver lining

WARNING: By the end of this blog post, you may think less of me. That's a risk I'm willing to take.

Is this day over yet?

I was up about eight times in the night. (I'll spare you the pregnant-lady details.) I gave up on sleep at 6 AM.

It's 11:31 AM. The construction started at our house a little before 8 AM this morning--before that, David had already left for the hardware store. They're increasing the height of our front wall by five blocks, and every 20 minutes, they remember another supply they need from me: a pen, a drill, an extension cord...

At 7:30 AM, the students started arriving across the street. No, you're not losing your mind (but I might be), it really is Saturday. School's supposed to be out...yet they and their parents came. Oh, how they came. Sometimes they stopped to stare at our workers and block our gate. {Edited sarcasm about how helpful that was.} I finally figured out they were having graduation...maybe it's the beginning of some quiet over there? {Insert skeptical snort-laugh. Demonstration available upon request.}

At 8:20, David called to say that the hardware store was out of the correct size of check valve to fix the overflowing tank on the roof. Thanks to my neighbor Rob, I didn't have to climb a 30 ft. ladder without a spotter to confirm that it was a half-inch pipe. David found it at another store down the road, after going through three employees...but it was slightly too short. It didn't fit.

As the noise peaked, I may have shed some stressed-out tears.

So between the singing, the sawing, the drilling, the hammering, the sweeping, the running water, the motorcycles coming and going, and my poor freaked-out dogs barkBARKbarking at e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g...it's not been a restful morning. I plopped my pregnant self on the couch to watch TV to drown out the din...and then I felt it. 

Somebody kicked me in the gut. 

I thought I had felt that at 2 AM, but being groggy, I wasn't sure. But sitting there, in the melee, I held perfectly still...and there it was again! Someone was kicking me! Someone was kicking me! 

I ran into the kitchen to tell David. Even he had to smile. "What does it feel like?" he asked. "Weird," I said. "It's really weird." What a silver lining--even better than a new wall.

I ate a cupcake to celebrate. You may celebrate today how you will.