A Typical Day in Haiti

This is part of my series of posts recapping our construction mission trip to Haiti. Click here to read them all.

We began construction on Monday, July 5th. This post is mostly for our moms or anyone else wondering what a typical day of construction looked like for us.

5:15am – Wake up, throw on grubby clothes & brush teeth. No need to shower since we were off to get dirty & nasty.

Cason & I, grubby together. Like my awesome sun hat?

5:45 – Load up in the tap-tap (the back of a pick-up truck. We’d “tap tap” on the roof of the truck when we were all in and ready to go) & head to the site to start working. We’d start so early to try and beat the heat a little bit. That helped some, but we’d still be sweaty & dirty within the first hour. We definitely appreciated the early start though by the time 2-3pm rolled around. It would be pretty miserable by then.

All loaded up in the tap-tap after getting some work done

7:30ish – Back in the tap-tap, drive back to the hotel for breakfast (they weren’t serving breakfast early enough for us to eat before we went out). Breakfast was generally fresh fruit (mostly pineapple & mango, sometimes watermelon), toast & butter, and the other part would rotate. One morning was a hot meat & potato soup (!), one time potato pancakes, sometimes eggs, and many times cold pasta (!). An interesting combo, but we ate whatever we had available. Often carbo loading I guess.

8:15ish – Drive back to the site to continue working. This was when we’d have our biggest bulk of continuous work without a break.

Getting some work done

Daniel, one of the Haitian workers, Stephen, & Cason with his makeshift sun shade

12:00 – Break for lunch. From the 1st site we could walk around the corner to the church (we had to drive from the 2nd site). We sat at a table under the tarps & eat. Sometimes it felt even hotter in there, without a breeze. A couple days the electricity was working and they would bring the fans out for us. We were so grateful for them on those days. We brought peanut butter with us, bought bread there in town, and just ate peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and other various snacks that we brought for ourselves. The Pastor’s wife (everyone just called her Madame) would every day bring us out some fresh mango & pineapple also. Delicious & refreshing! Pastor Garnell would also have cokes & sprites for us.

1:00ish – Walk (or drive) back to the site to continue working. 1:00-3:00pm was always the hardest part of the day. It was at its hottest, the sun would be baking us, and we would just be so physically exhausted. You could only work for a little bit at a time and then you’d have to stop, take a break in the shade, and drink something. I feel like we could have gotten so much more done if we could have removed the heat factor.

This is definitely a picture from toward the end of a work day. Can you tell? We are looking pretty rough & have sought out a moment in the shade.

3:00 – Stop working for the day, drive back to the hotel. Wait on electricity to come back on (or for them to get gas to start the generator back up) so that we could shower. Sometimes this would take up to an hour. The rest of this time in the afternoon, after showers, we would lay on our bed under the fan (if the electricity was working) with our feet up. Maybe nap. Maybe write in our journals, read our Bibles. Sometimes sit outside and just hang out chatting.

Myself, Cason, & Dad sitting outside after getting back probably waiting for the electricity to come back on so we can shower

5:30 or 6:00 – Walk over to the outdoor restaurant patio area together. Stephen would get our dinner ordered. We’d talk, do our group devotion time, and hang out at the table. This was really good reflection time to talk about the day. Some things from the day wouldn’t really sink in until we could talk through them out loud with the others. But then we’d start getting really hungry and antsy. In the later days we started eating snacks before dinner or even bring them to the table to help from getting too cranky. Even if we ordered at 5:30 or 6:00, it was mostly 7:30 or even 8:00 before the food would arrive. I think one night it was a full 3 hours later! Haitian time was something we definitely had to try and get used to. It really tested our patience some nights.

This is the crew sitting at the table in the restaurant area waiting on dinner. I love how Wes is passed out in the foreground. You can tell how exhausted we'd often be by this point in the day.

Dinner was most often rice, beans (mostly a liquidy consistency that had a few beans in it). The meats changed (fried chicken, a tasty beef, fatty/boney goat), most days there were fried plantains or potatoes or french fries. One night we had a pasta dish, but it had a strange oily sauce on it that almost tasted oriental.

A dinner - beef, fried/breaded plantains, french fries, rice & beans, & this night we had a semi lasagna dish. Interesting combo.

After actually eating, we’d hang out chatting a bit more. One night we played a loud, crazy game of Catch Phrase. That was a good time!

8:45-9:30sih – We would wander back to our rooms and pass out for the night. The hotel definitely looked beautiful on the outside, but the rooms were quite basic. But everything we needed. The beds were a little harder & the pillows a little flatter, but I think we all slept like rocks most nights out of sheer exhaustion. We were so grateful, though, for the air conditioning and ceiling fans that we had at night. When we first signed up for the trip, we thought we’d be sleeping in tents. (And after our last night in Haiti, when we did have to sleep – or not sleep – in tents in a miserably hot Port-au-Prince, we were even more grateful for the hotel rooms that we ended up getting blessed with in Petite Goave).

Anyway, that is what one of our typical days looked like. More to come soon. I promise.

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