Saturday, July 14, 2012

Haiti: Day Four - Ocean Swimming & More!

Today, we got our campers up early and served them breakfast. Each counselor takes time with certain campers and then we all check and see what they need in terms of eating help, drinks, dessert etc. Most of the kids have their friend groups and tend to stick together. It s amazing to watch how some of them help each other and which kids act like parents to the others. I'm not sure if I mentioned this in the first blog post, but they are all from St. Vincent's School for Handicapped Children on the other side of Port au Prince and I think many of them are orphans - either by happenstance or by parental neglect. Next, we split up into groups. Some moved to the pool area where a group was beginning to play some music, my group went to the beach and batted around a GIGANTIC red ball. It’s huge and they all loved it. For the blind campers, it was fun to get into a circle and call each other’s name out so they’d have a head’s up for the big ball. Their smiles are priceless!
Then, some of us went to another area on the beach where there was a basketball court. Laura and Casey played basketball with a few children in wheelchairs while Jesula, Mackenson, Roseline and I sang songs with the guitar and Casey came to help play. They knew some Episcopal hymns and then we listened to them singing some Haitian praise songs and gospel. It was beautiful! One of the songs was “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” made into a gospel song. Next, a bunch of us ended up by the pool area and did music for two more hours. The cajon drum box got lots of play and there was an older gentleman with an accordion who has a great ear and would pick up anything Casey played on the guitar. There was some wonderful art going on upstairs, some folks were playing UNO and Dominos, and down at the beach a small group was chilling out by the sea. Since it was extremely hot and everyone became super exhausted after a while, we all went down to the water’s edge to sit under the shade of a tree. Very nice time together.
At lunch, Sonya went around to each table and gave an Episcopal blessing in sign language and speech. After lunch was a little down time and I actually slept for 30 minutes. Around 3:30, we got all of the campers out of their rooms again and down to the shore. It was time for swimming in the ocean. As for me, I used to live at the beach and had different years where I’d be all about ocean swimming and then some years were filled with stepping on horseshoe crabs, baby hammerhead sharks, and slimy things. (Once, I had gotten up enough courage to slip off the raft I was using and just before I did this, I noticed a GIANT jellyfish bobbling over towards me. Aaaaagh!) So, today I was a little afraid, but since I was leading two blind girls into the pool and everyone else was also getting in, I decided to suck it up and get in. I stayed in for about 25 minutes with them and we did have fun. Then, I saw a small white jellyfish and decided I was done. The girls wanted to sit in the surf and said they were ok so I checked around and then went up to the veranda area to guard stuff and keep an eye on the campers still on land.
It was fun to be in the ocean at first and it sure felt great in the heat, I admit, but I’m still a bit nervous about it. Oh well, I tried. I don’t know what exact temperatures we’ve had, but I can verify that it is officially close to 1,000 degrees in the shade.

(Jesula, Mackenson, and Roseline singing)
Tonight, I tried conch for dinner....sort of sauteed. It tasted like chicken with a slight aftertaste of some kind of Asian sauce.

After dinner, we gathered the campers around the pool area and did some great music for an hour and a half! Got them all to their rooms and then I was happy to be able to swim under the stars for a little bit. My back is hurting so it helped a bit. Another great day with great people. J

1 comment:

Randall said...

Wonderful post! Man, I hope the back feels better. I've always wanted to try conch, ever since Betsy raved about it on one of her trips.

Have you thought about recording some of the music and/or other sessions? might be a cool memory for afterwards.

swimming under the stars sounds lovely.