Some mornings, Dolly helped in the clinic. She was a labour and delivery nurse for many years and so she tolerates the sight of yukky things much better than I. So she weighed and measured babies and took blood pressures of mamas.
I was banished to the road to help on a painting project.
The road outside the clinic looks like this to the east...
...and this to the west.
Mamas knocking at the gate, rat-tat-tatting to be let in by Jason, the guard, is a common sight.
There is a rooster, of uncertain ownership, that pecks around in the dirt outside the gate.
I am not clear on the attraction of roosters for the Haitian people. They are raucous at all hours of the day, but particularly at 4 o'clock in the morning, when the roosters perform their own version of the "twilight bark" from 101 Dalmations.
Haitian roosters make me grumpy.
In fact, I was asking Santo (resident translator and general go-to guy at the clinic) why we owned a rooster, he informed me that it was so that the hens would lay eggs.
But Santo, I said patiently, you don't need a rooster to get eggs.
Yes, you do, he replied, with a barely disguised pity in his eyes.
No, you don't, I insisted.
Yes, you do.
Oookay. I gave up. Sometimes, you just have to know when to concede defeat. This was one of them. There is also the matter of the lone egg that sits on the roosting shelf in the hen coop that supposedly incites the Dominican hens to lay eggs. Not working so far, people! I just hope that it never falls on the ground and breaks, or it will surely asphyxiate the chickens.
Aaand, there are the two pregnant mama goats, who belong to Jason, the afore-mentioned guard. I got a kick out of the number of times per hour that Jason peeks his head around the gate to check on his babies. He does love his goats!
Walls in Haiti are canvasses for art.
Sometimes it is utilitarian, like this...
...and sometimes it is much more decorative.
I confessed to being slightly artistic, so Sarah asked me to help Wilfred, the brother of one of our translators, whom she had hired to paint a mural about healthy water practices.
I love Haitian art. It is primitive and colourful and depicts ordinary, yet idealistic, aspects of everyday life in Haiti. It has an optimism that I like to think will be rewarded some day with bliss.
Wilfred has lofty goals. He told me that he wants to be a great person some day. I think he already is a great person, but I hope he also figures out how he can become successful, which is what I think he meant.
Wilfred used a pencil and an oft-abused level to rough out the rectangle that would contain the mural.
No, he did not entrust me with any of this task.
But he did allow me to help paint the white background.
This is Jude, another brother, who is a happy fellow and liked to make fun of me, especially when I made strange noises because I was so hot. As in "elevated temperature", not "degree of coolness".
The wall on this side of the street was in direct sunlight all of the day, so the general strategy was to paint until you couldn't stand it any more, then go sit on the shady side of the street to recover.
Whereupon, I (and Dolly, when she was helping) learned the fine art of wall-sitting, one of my favourite aspects of Haitian culture.
Don't we do it well?
I had retired to the house one day and when I came outside again, Jude and another friend and helper (wall-sitter) Black Yves were snoring loudly next to the wall.
For a second, I believed them, but then they both burst out laughing.
It soon became apparent that I was not to be allowed to tarnish Wilfred's masterpiece with my amateur strokes, so I made this large painted space for notices. The usual practice is for people to slap notices randomly on walls, so Sarah decided to supply a delineated space and ask people to get permission from MBH before they posted their papers.
I also made this tree for some of the local children to decorate with their hand-prints.
One day, it rained as we were working on our separate walls, and the boys rigged up this ingenious way of protecting their work.
It took them all week to complete the project.
Wilfred stopped by the night before we left. I had asked him to make a painting for me, but he had forgotten that I was leaving so soon. He told me that Jude had asked him to tell me that he thought of me as his friend.
I left some money with Sarah, so I may yet get that painting.