Published: February 4th 2012February 4th 2012
here's an example of a urine-diversion toilet
After getting hasseled at LAX to buy a return ticket, not making it thought security twice because I forgot to check the kitchen knives in my bag, freezing still 5 minutes for an airport red alert, barely making my flight, cursing myself for choosing the middle seat in the only row that doesn't recline (bc it's in front of the exit row) for the overnighter, almost not making it through customs in Haiti because I forgot to write the SOIL address down (but fortunately had made friends with my neighbor on the plane who argued in Creole for me).... I'm here!!
It's day 4 now and I'm settling into this new space, language, culture, organization. I've already visited the 2 main composting sites and have seen some of the dry toilets set up in communities. We're located in a town/neighborhood adjacent to the Port au Prince city and I'm getting a feel for this place: the apparant slums and poverty scattered throughout (a lot of people still displaced and in camps from the earthquake), and the contrasting vibrance and energy of the people wanting to live, work, and have fun. I'm living upstairs the office with another co-worker and two
the urine will be diluted and used in gardens or on the compost piles
other international workers: one with a Haitian Justice law firm, the other for a water rights organization. It's nice to have my own room as I've been on the road, with family, or living outta the car for the last 7 months! I'm so grateful to have these housemates as links to political issues and real-time updates with earthquake camp evictions and water policies. Fascinating.
I've dedicated myself to learning Creole, the language spoken here (French is being pushed out and only used for official government happenings). Having spoken zero Creole prior to arrival, after 3 days I can string together simple sentences, count, and feel encouraged by the fact that there is no verb conjugation. Everyone has been really helpful so far as I stumble through my humble beginnings, and it's great that the staff majority is Haitian, for more reasons than my linguistic immersion. I'm excited to help out, and it looks like this will take the form of administrative duties, networking, helping out with compost processing, and conducting agricultural experiments with urine and finished compost. I'm doing a lot of studying and reading on my own of various sanitation systems, but hope to not be all-consumed
of shit+bougasse (the material of choice here for composting)
and get out to explore!
Anyone who is familiar with me knows that I LOVE to dance - salsa, bachata, cha cha, tango, merengue. The Haitians dance Konpa, similar to bachata but a simpler beat danced to caribbean music. I'll be exploring this dance and also hoping to run into what fliters across the border from the Dominican Republic, the motherland of bachata. I may even have to make a special trip there I'm so close! On other fun topics, Haitian Carnival is around the corner and celebrated over two weekends at the end of January (I've never even been to Carnival in SF!). And despite the devastation and exploitation of natural resources here, there is a natural beauty that exists, and probably more so outside of the city which I'm curious to explore.
So friends, I'm here! I have internet access and a camera to borrow and take pictures. I'm only cursing myself for having not looked for my soccer cleats harder, as soccer is the widely played sport here and I gotta represent the women :) Orevwa for now, we'll see what adventures unfold!
There are more photos below