Have you ever seen a spider? Not one of those little ones who make a web in the corner of your garage, but a BIG, HAIRY, MULTI-EYED WHOPPER! Yeah, me neither. But my biggest fear in coming to Haiti was that one of those buggers would attack me in my bed and send me home paralyzed on my left side for the next 6 weeks. You know what? That’s not going to happen. I don’t even think there’s a spider that has venom that does that.
You see, I had an idea about spiders, specifically about Haitian spiders, but while I have seen 2 big ones, they are nothing that are going to harm me, or send me home early.
I also had an idea about Haiti before I came here, but nothing could prepare me for the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch of Haiti.
When we were arriving I was not ready for the smells that immediately hit. The sickening sweet smell of rum stills. The oddly Haitian smell as you enter into the dirt-floored homes. Even the water has a distinct and indescribable smell. The smell of motorcycle exhaust as they beep-beep and pass you on the gravel roads. The smell of frying plantains in the market.
There are the tastes. A bread served at each meal by our cooks that is amazingly tasty and amazingly versatile as it has been used for sandwich bread, french toast, and garlic bread. Best when warm, but great any time. We’ve had native foods like plantain, coconut, and mangos. (which grow on the trees here on campus) We’ve had rice, an amazing gravy for it, and SPAM! (I know, but it’s MY blog post sand I LOVE it, guys) We’ve tried pops like Limonade (pronounced Lee-mo-nahd), a Fruit Champagne (Think Sparking grape juice that tastes like Banana Laffy Taffy. Right, Mo?) and Coca Cola from Haiti.
And then there’s the touch. I was warned before coming to Haiti that my personal space would be invaded. (and not only by spiders) It would be by a people who touch. They hug, handshake, cheek kiss, shoulder grab, sit on you. (Austin, you’re just a big teddy bear!) And if you get in the back of a Toyota pickup to ride somewhere (Watch OUT for the GATE, Tracy. Too late. Sorry.) you will be touched by someone, whether sweaty Kevin or Doug, one of our guides who usually sit in a place where they are resting on your leg or shoulder or lap (Seriously, Austin. You ARE a big teddy bear!) or you have someones leg in your back, foot in your side, or face in your armpit. (You hope not the other way round) Kids come up and hug you, mostly around the waist, except Miranda and Trevor who see eye to eye with most. (Are all of you over 15? I don’t know, Miranda. Are you?)
I kind of want to see a spider now, though. (Seriously, Ame!)