Archive for February 9, 2010

Day 14. Rivers, Saint Raphael, and camera hunting.

It rained all last night and into the day today on the north coast of Haiti (fortunately the rain seems confined to the north coast as many people in PaP are sleeping without shelter). The people here seem to like the rain as it brings relief from the heat, growth to their crops, and swells the rivers. The rivers here appear to be one of the main centers of Haitian society, possibly only second to the church. Most Haitian homes do not have running water, so the people flock to the rivers. Everywhere we go, no matter how remote, it is an absolute guarantee that if you see a river you will see people in it doing everything that people do with water (see picture below). One can only imagine how unhealthy these waters have become, which is all the more frightening as you can always tell you are approaching a river because you will see people on the sides of the roads carrying jugs to bring water from the river to their homes. I have talked with several people from Habitat with Humanity who are down here with the sole purpose of putting in wells for potable drinking water. I have seen some of these wells, and they are always being used – just great to see.

Typical Haitian river scene where people wash themselves and their cloths (which are drying on the banks) and their vehicles. The also carry this water back to the their houses to drink (click on this figure to see it bigger).

The soaked dirt roads made for an interesting trip to Saint Raphael, which is up and over a mountain pass. But thanks to 4-wheel drive and great driving by Daniel, we arrived here with little trouble. The forests in these mountains may be secondary growth after being clear cut, but they are lush with plantain, orange, grapefruit, mango, and guava trees. Saint Raphael is a beautiful village in the mountains about 50 km south of the north coast, where we set up a GPS receiver on the roof of a priest’s house. The priests appear to be the most respected people in town, and they have always been helpful to our GPS work in Haiti.  It was nice to walk around the bustling market at the town square. As generally the only white people in these remote towns, we would have gotten enough stares (people always seem very curious about us) even without Daniel following us the whole way with the truck – our directions to stay put got lost in translation.

Macly setting up a GPS receiver on the roof of the priest's house across the street from the mission (in background).

View of peoples houses from the roof of the priest's house in Saint Raphael.

Both Sarah’s and my digital cameras succumbed to the rigors of field work over the past couple of days, and we need them to record the set-up at each GPS site (of course taking pictures for the blog is also nice to be able to do).  So we headed back into Cap-Haitien to look for a new one. Though Cap-Haitien is the  second largest city in Haiti, we only found 3 “camera” stores which had a combined total of 5 models– all over-priced (more than in the US). This may partially explain why we do not see Haitians with cameras. We bought the cheapest one.