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210 Paint November–December 2012 When I get off the plane in PAP, instead of being directed downstairs to the shuttle and tin-roofed customs barn, I walk straight into the new terminal where an agent processes me quickly and directs me to a two-story baggage-claim area complete with stainless steel carousels. I welcome these new amenities as a symbol of closure. I have arrived at the new Haiti, and everything is looking up. Well, maybe not everything. The new terminal is immeasurably better than the old chaos; the gauntlet is gone and the main entrance connects to a large, well-ordered parking area. Still, I’m stuck behind a gussied up Haitian at customs. She paws through her immense purse, oblivious to others, until she finds her customs slip and presents it as ceremoniously as a god bestows a gift. The boulevards of Port-au-Prince are spanking clean with uniformed women sweeping the gutters. Saplings have been planted in the medians. But Ricardo and I get stuck behind a vintage Toyota van kerplunking along on only three inflated tires. We pass a soccer team practicing on a legitimate field complete with uniforms, coaches, and referees. The field just happens to abut a tent city. Giant billboards stretch ever farther out Route 2. There are local signs for hotels and discos, restaurants, and construction materials , even a distillery in Leogane. The signposts also provide a convenient support for lean-to shacks. The plaster finish at Mission of Hope School looks terrific; we hope to open in January. But we will do so without electricity; 211 Paint MoHI has not been able to raise the funds to purchase panels, conduit , and light fixtures. Electricity has arrived at Be Like Brit; the lines snake up and across the road. The security light at the main gate burns all night. Unfortunately the beacon obscures our starry nights. Huguener is supervising a new project for Hands and Feet orphanage , and Gilbert generates spreadsheets as easily as he cooks up legumes. But Martel and Maneus prove to be lazy; they’re fired from BLB and return to dreaming of America in the shade. My breath comes up short every time I take in the majestic view from the orphanage. But I cannot enjoy my walks home; Grand Goave is too unsafe due to a protracted manifestation (the local euphemism for a riot) against the mayor. Every morning Route 2 is littered with lingering bonfires and trucks blocking the road. Ble and Toto are back at work, their wounds well healed. But the monthly march of death continues; the protestors shoot a bus driver point blank, and one of Lex’s teachers from St. Etienne goes missing. His body later shows up in a Port-au-Prince morgue. The boys’ tutor gives them each a positive report. Dieunison has developed beautiful cursive, which is how I learn that Jerry’s name is actually spelled Dieurie. Still nearly every week Dieunison manages to create some new form of trouble and gets sent home from school. Dieunison and Dieurie have moved into their house with Huguener . Syltan cooks a meal for them every day and does their laundry. My rascals have taken to treating her like a maid so I must scold their haughtiness. Completion is in sight for both projects; Dieunison and Dieurie are hardly the same boys they were three months ago. But I’m exhausted and long for an extended period back home. Haiti has worn me down. Every detail of Haiti seems precious this trip; I don’t know when I will return. I witness the everyday rhythms with new vigor, from Mirlitone’s star-filled nights to the humble sweeping Gama and I observe in the emerging dawn. At 5:30 a.m. roosters are long past awake; dogs and pigs meander along the road as we drive to work. The few men with jobs are already up and gone, but folks with no agenda are just beginning 212 Architecture by Moonlight to stir. Shadows pass in and out of shacks; dressing, splashing their faces with whatever water’s left in last night’s basin. The women of the house are the first ones about their chores, and the first chore is to sweep the front yard, the packed earth that connects the house to the street. Haitian brooms are charming, if ineffective, pieces of folk craft. The pole is a sturdy branch about four feet long and an inch...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780826273321
Related ISBN
9780826220394
MARC Record
OCLC
900223848
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-15
Language
English
Open Access
No
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