Monday, April 30, 2012

Too many languages, too few brain cells

Mondays are Mondays, and even more so in Haiti. Today is complete insanity, starting at about seven a.m. and ending at eight p.m.

One of my clients has a Visa appointment scheduled for this morning. Last night, we tried every method known to man trying to get the money needed down here. No go. And now, amazingly, despite multiple precautions, some of the documentation we need for the case is not here. Sonia and I assemble what we have, and make plans for me to stay and do the appointment over again if necessary.

Haiti's power plant
A second client, who has had one of the rockiest roads I've seen in a while, still didn't get the appointment for which we have been begging for a very, very long time. She is here in Haiti and physically goes to the Consulate to beg. We get lucky and she ends up with a very kind and empathetic member of their staff, with whom I've often worked over the years. Some of these cases drive us all insane. Everything that possibly could go wrong for this family, did go wrong.

I elect to ride along with Margarette on her rounds today. I always learn something when I do, and it's good to be seen at the various government offices. We're scrambling frantically to try to deposit our last dossiers before the temporary shut down at IBESR. Two more kids are in today, and we're going to try for another two this week. Margarette visits: Tribunal de Paix of Petionville, a copy shop, IBESR, Parquet court, and IBESR again. All in insanely heavy traffic. It's insanely hot and dirty and sooty, and we have no air conditioning. My phone rings nonstop regarding four separate cases. Some of the calls are actually for Margarette, not for me, but it doesn't matter since we're in the car together anyway.

At one point we stop so that she can buy a new car charger for her Blackberry. Because I am in the car, the vendor names a ridiculous price. I apologize, and Margarette says it's not for the blan. I ask the vendor if it would be better if I got out of the car and went across the street while they haggle. His eyebrows hit his hairline. It's always fun to speak Kreyol in my skin.

We've missed lunch again, so Margarette buys us roast corn on the street. I love this stuff. It keeps you full for a long time. Back through the unbelievable traffic we go, all the way to Petionville. We stop at Giant Mart. Margarette buys food for the guest house. It's amazingly like any big city grocery store in the US, except that the products come from a lot more different places. I take another two phone calls, one from a friend just to chat, one from a friend to arrange a meeting at the airport before we both fly out on Wednesday. Never a dull moment!

The guest house is full tonight! We have a Haitian birth family, three adoptive families, and an interpreter staying with us. One of the families is from Argentina, and I'm driven wild with frustration. I can understand every word they say in Spanish, but I can't speak at all! When I try to speak Kreyol comes out. It's like digging around a closet full of clothes in the dark. You know you have everything you need in there, and you'd recognize each item if you could see it, but you can't find a darn thing! One of the other adoptive parents staying here speaks Spanish, so he's translating for me. He's leaving in the morning, so tomorrow might be interesting. At least I'll understand them. I just won't be able to explain a darn thing. I really can't understand how truly multi-lingual people do it.  As Franck tells me, my brain must be diminishing as I get older.

No comments:

Post a Comment