Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 21 - Thar Be A Storm Brewin'!

Writing is a fickle thing. It really is. I sat down about ten minutes ago with the intent to update, and played with a few ways to open up the entry, and deleted them, and did it again, and deleted them again. It has been something of a common theme for me this last year or so - I transitioned away from just writing for the sake of writing (usually about myself) to writing because there's something worthwhile to say. Of course, given I didn't really feel I had much to say that was truly worthwhile, the writing basically stopped. I'm having that situation right now, except this time, I'm in the middle of Haiti doing disaster relief work. You'd think I'd find something worthwhile to write about, but like a said, it's a fickle thing. So instead of writing some inspired something or another, I guess I'll just zone out with the music here, and see what happens. You've been warned.

It's sunny and calm outside today. 12:51PM. Mellow. Not insanely hot. Pretty nice actually. Which I only mention because supposedly, within the next 24 to 48 hours a tropical storm with hurricane potential should spin up here. To be more accurate, judging from the images on and The National Hurricane Center, the storm is already on top of us. Could have fooled me. This morning there was a 60% - 70% chance of a tropical storm forming. Having just checked it again, it looks like that has been downgraded. Perhaps that explains the mellow weather. The storm isn't going to make it to its own party. Good news for us and the people of Haiti, although, if I'm completely honest, I am a bit bummed. I rather liked the idea of experience of a tropical storm via rooftop tent. I imagine a tropical storm being something powerful enough to impress, but not powerful enough to really wreck havoc. That's what I wanted to experience. Let's be very clear: if a hurricane of any real strength rolled through here, I wouldn't be so glib about it. That's when you get humble and smart, and do what you have to do to survive it, then help the people that weren't as lucky as yourself. Hurricane season is far from over, and while I pray one doesn't hit Haiti, I've made a commitment to myself to do everything I can to help if and when one does. Haiti is so fragile right now. A hurricane would devastate her. tracking potentially nasty weather.
The biosand filter project is coming along at a frustratingly slow pace, simply because we are bottle-necked at the worksite development phase. We will be building a filter workshop right outside the back gate of the HODR camp, and while it at first seemed simple enough, I'm learning from the ground up how much work can go into something that may appear to be easily accomplished. Right now we are still only in the planning phase, but it is the most important phase, and lots of variables have to be taken into consideration. The main issue that Paddy and I are going to attempt to tackle this afternoon is planning appropriately for water run-off and drainage. That involves a lot of well-leveled surfaces. At the moment, the workspace is little more than a plot with rubble on it. The Bobcats will eventually come in and level it out, but before they do, we need to know how much rubble they need to remove (or add) and what gradient the surface should have to allow for effective rain run-off. Believe me when I say that, when it rains here in Haiti, it rains here in Haiti. I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of water that drops on Seattle in a month drops on us in an afternoon. The Northwest's perma-drizzle takes the slow and steady approach. Haiti prefers to blitz. It reminds me of Santa Fe, Costa Rica, San Miguel de Allende. The sky in those places opened and poured when it came time to. I love that kind of rain, but it can be problematic if you don't have a system in place to channel it once it makes it down to our level. So yes, that's the big project for this afternoon - try and figure out the best system to handle la pli, and the dlo it brings (that'd be 'the rain' and 'water' in Haitian Creole).

My first attempt at using Google SketchUp to map out what the biosand filter worksite should look like. A little rough around the edges but I'm getting better...
The orphanage edutainment program went really well yesterday. Angie, the kick ass teacher that I mentioned in an earlier entry was running the program, left recently, so the torch was passed to myself, Bobby & Michael. Caitlyn, Angie's partner in crime, came with as well to help us if need be, but took a backseat roll. Michael couldn't make it due to an unfortunate case of upset stomach that somehow led to a pipe breaking in the bathroom, and a lot of flooding. Fun! We left him back at camp, armed with a squeegee and a healthy dose of embarrassment (who hasn't been there before right?). Bobby & I led the activities outside, while Lisa, a new volunteer who will be taking over the orphanage project once I transition back to the biosand project full-time upon completion of our workspace, held it down inside. We divided up the kids by age - nine and above / eight and below - and dropped some food knowledge on them. Mucho flashcards, an expected level of rambunctiousness and a lot of yelling (with, not at) later, and the class was a success. I'll be headed back tomorrow to teach them about nutrition. Wish me luck. I don't know how to say "Food Pyramid" in Creole.

Alright, well then, time to sign off. I managed to locate and procure a solid pair of dive goggles yesterday off of Kyle, a friend of mine here, and all for only a pack of smokes. That's about $1.25. I also secured his air mattress. That was another pack. $2.50 for the both is a damn fine deal. Now, should this tropical storm really get nasty with us, I can be the diver HODR sends down into the bowels of the base to recover food and/or bodies for those of us still alive on the roof. Or hell, if it all goes apeshit and the base goes bye-bye, my new air mattress could surely make do as a raft in a pinch. It's not like I'll have to worry about jagged pieces of rebar, floating nail-infested debris and machete wielding Haitian pirates. Me, my air mattress, my Leatherman and These New Boots. We will overcome. 

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