Getting to sleep last night involved a fair amount of excitement, as just as Jasmine was falling asleep (Michelle and Rayna were reading using their headlamps) she kicked violently (Rayna and Michelle believe it to have been epileptically) at something crawling across her leg. Michelle, curious as to what the movement was about, looked over only to see the first cockroach she had ever seen (which to be fair was quite an enormous specimen). Letting out a shriek, she immediately demanded that Jasmine move, in a voice that implied that imminent death was waiting if she stayed in place. Jasmine, thinking that there must at the very least be a poisonous snake coiled on her bed ready to strike her, initially froze and then gently eased off the bed while asking what was going on. Initially all Michelle could do was point a shaking finger and repeat “It’s huge! There! It’s huge!”. Turning on the light everyone looked at the bed… there was nothing there though both Rayna and Michelle had at this point seen the insect. This then caused Jasmine a mild flurry of panic until Michelle explained what she had seen… at which point Jasmine relaxed and was going to go back to bed. Or was at least, until the other two demanded that she find the cockroach and get rid of it. In the meantime, both Rick and Lelia arrived to find out what the chaos was about. Assuring them both that everything was under control, Jasmine’s bed ended up practically disassembled, packs were gone through, and sheets were shaken. Inevitably, the roach was finally found in Rayna’s sheets. This started another small panic, until Jasmine removed it, killed it and threw it outside. In the meantime, Rayna and Michelle were scouring the bedroom to make sure there weren’t any others… concerned about getting back into bed until Jasmine sprayed their beds with DEET… Needless to say, it took a while to settle back to sleep.
So today was an incredibly busy day… not only did we need to be up and out of the house by 6am, but we didn’t get home until after 5:30pm. We started out by heading out to the live market and traditional slaughter grounds. This was by far one of our most interesting excursions to date… every type of animal imaginable (whether for food or labour) was available for purchase…Unfortunately, until finding out that we were veterinarians, people were very uncomfortable with us watching or taking pictures. Once the ice was broken however, everyone was excited to explain their methods. The main reservation it appears, is that at times there have been some very harsh condemnations regarding slaughter procedures. We just watched, finding it all very interesting. Jasmine almost got into hot water as she had somehow given the impression that she was buying a horse… until another gentleman came along and showed some interest. There were also individuals selling some of the finest hand-tooled leather goods (saddles, bridles, leads, etc.) that any of us had ever seen.
We then went to the national quarantine area, where all animals entering the country must be kept (livestock and companion animals) for a minimum of 15 days, and possibly for months depending on the condition of the animal, and which species it is and country of origin it is coming from.
The national lab was next on the list. They do all of the diagnostics and surveillance for the entire country. After chatting, it was determined that their most common diseases are pretty much the same as ours.
Finally on the way home, we stopped at one of the grocery stores to look for spices for dinner… while there we almost managed to cause an international crisis, as Jasmine and Rayna were so engaged in their conversation that they failed to realize that the door to the taptap had swung open. This meant that there was not enough space for the UN vehicle to pass by another oncoming vehicle. It was a testament to both drivers that they remained calm and accident free… a rarely observed phenomenon so far during our time in Haiti. Having ignored all of the honking (which goes on all the time during Haitian driving), the girls only realized there was a problem once the armed security guard came walking over. It all ended in smiles though, as Rayna quickly leapt to secure the door, and received a wave and ‘Merci!’ for her efforts.
A visit was then made to the Iron Market – which basically is the major centre for arts and crafts, as well as having the regular food and household wares common to any street market. There we spent some time finding some souvenirs/keepsakes for family and friends – and learned that the general fascination with Rayna was the absolute paleness of her skin, not so much that she was a ‘blanc’. A couple of people actually stroked her skin to see if it was real… lucky for us she is just a ghost, and not a zombie! Lol…
We had mentioned seeing few accidents – today was our unlucky day… Lelia explained that it was partly that it was Friday, and so therefore more people were in a hurry to get home, but also the frustration as several routes were closed for various reasons. The traffic jams were therefore quite intense, and Pierre Richard took it upon himself to find novel ways to attempt to bypass it. At one point we were headed at speed down the wrong side of the road (and on the wrong side of the median). This seemed to be ok, as other vehicles were doing it as well… at least it seemed ok until we encountered the police block, who made us turn around. So instead, we took a short cut through the tent city… and whose residents were also very unimpressed. We were all happy just to eventually get back on the road heading home in one piece.
Hope that you are all doing well! It’s been a long day and is time to finally turn in.
love to everyone