Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Things I think I saw. #3

Monday: A woman with HIV was surprised when she could live for another 10 years if she stuck with her new anti-retroviral medication. Maybe she could have a child after all she said.

Tuesday: The neighbors who live in the cultural display (from the Museum of Natural History at 81st Street)

next door came over for pictures this afternoon. The oldest girl who wiggles asked in a shy way – with big eyes. Before I knew it a shirted brother and naked sister had clambered over and under the fence. Next a blue skirted second-to-the-youngest. Later she said her baby sister and her mother wanted a picture too. I asked the father with the wandering eye if he wanted in on the action too: he did. The cultural exhibit was full of light and laughter – under a thatched ceiling. The next door neighbors pick up yard trash and listen for rattling doors and shaking fences at night. For this, and because they are so nice, they receive rice.

Wednesday: Today we ate bread that was too hot to hold in our hands. Haitian bread is dense and white; it is broken into long strips like communion bread in Ohio. It is baked in an earthen oven after it is rolled and stroked with exquisite exacting care by a tall man in a baseball cap. The flour to make the bread is mixed with water which carried on the head from a nearby (3/10 of one mile) down-hill spring. (This spring supplies the local community with all its drinking water.) The flour and the break it produces is owned by women wrapped in adequate but ill fitting clothes. If someone buys a lot of bread at once, one of these women might let the customer borrow a cloth so they can carry their bread (on their head) home. The women who sell the bread must pay for the flour, the skills of the tall tank-topped man and the gaping earthen oven, before they will be able to sell the bread to make more money to buy more flour, to pay the tall black man, and fire the furnace again. Haitian bread is best when it is hot and wrapped in a borrowed cloth.


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