Are We Trembling?
Updated: Jan 11, 2022
I feel like I should write something today as a person that is "in the know." This very small island had a large natural disaster yesterday, but you all probably know more of the statistics than I do. I am amazed sometimes about what Americans know about the world. Yesterday when we were still wondering what had happened, when Zeze still had his little phone to his ear, listening to live news from different areas, I started seeing things on American people's statuses about the terrible earthquake in Haiti. The earthquake his the south and west end of Haiti, the long toe part, if you think of Haiti as a boot shape. We have family on the west end, and they are all ok, but there are quite a few houses ruined. Folks in law's house in Chambelan where they were missionaries had quite a bit of damage, so they'll have to figure out how to get it fixed for the renters.
My day wasn't totally abnormal actually. When the tremors passed thru Port au Prince, I was in my kitchen alone making muffins. The room started moving, kind of like the feeling of being on a ship, and I thought, "Why am I dizzy? I don't feel sick." Then everyone in the neighborhood started yelling, and I caught on what was going on. I ran outside too, until my phone rang. I ventured inside to answer. It was Zèzè calling me to tell me to go outside. But it was all over. Some people in Port au Prince felt more tremors in the evening, but we didn't.
Later, my mom-in-law came and helped me make market. Zèzè dropped us off at Tabarre, and I, being young and still enthralled by this country, thoroughly enjoyed it. "Manmi! Auntie! Come buy from me! Is that white girl your daughter?" And once, an indignant, "The white girl would have bought from me if you hadn't been with her!"
She supervised so much more carefully than I what went into my market bags. We walked a lot further inside the market than I usually do, because my husband was not waiting impatiently drinking a Coke for us to finish. So we got the best price possible for the gwo mamit, or large can, of limes, and the little ones that the merchant had hidden at the bottom of the can, were fished out and replaced with better ones. But what we had been looking for, lam veritab, or breadfruit, to make tom tom, we did not find. I saw plenty of them, and pointed them out helpfully. But I was met with firm head shakes. All were pa bon, not good. So we got guavas, cherries, and passionfruit for juice, everything I need to make legume tomorrow, and plantains and chicken legs for the revival ministers, who are going to be staying at our house all of this next week.
We couldn't resist buying five little crabs for about 50 cents for our tom tom. When you see our Haitian cookbook, look for their picture. They deserve a little bit of fame. They were still alive in the market, and survived the trip home to wave their pinchers feebly as Mom squirted lime all over them, then mercifully broke their pinchers and rubbed them with epis before boiling them for a bit. Hopefully the perfect breadfruits can be secured soon, so the crabs can get out of my fridge and into the cookbook.
We took a tap-tap home, but unfortunately for us and the driver, he had a blow out before the first intersection. The dreadlocked driver looked resigned as he came to the back and said, "Everyone out," and proceded to hand us all our money back. So we had a long, hot walk with three heavy bags. But it's fun to walk with my mom-in-law. So many people know her, and actually a lot of people in the neighborhood know me now too... And I get a few, "Bonswa, Madanm Zeze," instead of just "Hey blan." In Haiti, everyone calls you by your husband's name, so in the street we are "Elcius's wife" and "Eliezer's wife."
Zèzè had an incredibly tiring and frustrating day of choir practice with a whole lot of breakdown before and after. But when he finally got home we went to a birthday party. Typical Haitian party vibes, and a nice grand finale about 9:30 when the birthday girl was doused with an exploding bottle of champagne.
A lot of people slept outside last night, worried about more tremors. I could tell everyone was reliving the horrible experiences of 12 Janvye, or January 12, 2010, which they refer too in the same way that Americans say 9/11. Zèzè told someone at the birthday party that he felt the earth trembing, and when it stopped, he looked at his body, and it was trembling.
Today as we were leaving church, a brother stopped us to talk about the tremors. "I was kind of scared," he admitted. "I was going to sleep outside last night until I started feeling rain drops. Then I said, that's not possible. If it's raining, there won't be another earthquake. Two bad things at once like that. It's not possible."
I laughed. "Is that really true, that there can't be an earthquake while it's raining?" I asked.
"Of course not." he said. "Look and see. Would God send two bad things like that at one time? Reflect well, sister." He shook his finger at me as we left the church.