Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Than I Bargained For

110929: More Than I Bargained For
I made a deal with Judeline that if I went to the market and bought all of the proper ingredients, she’d teach me how to make patte.  
Fair enough. 
So, I asked Adrien’s cook Ya-Yan if she’d mind if I tagged along with her to the market, to make sure I was buying food at the right price.  
I waited outside my house at just a little after 8 in the morning, and sure enough, along came a tap-tap.  It was, so far, the most jam packed taxi I’ve ever seen, and smack in the middle of all of the people was Ya-Yan, motioning to me to hop on board.   That was much easier said than done. Almost the entire truck full of people needed to somehow shift for me to fit, and in the end, there was only room to squeeze on foot in between a few bags of corn, and wedge the other foot up against a farmer’s 5 gallon bucket.  There was no place to sit, so I just made up my mind that I’d be road-surfing.  
“I can do this.” I thought.  8 of us were standing in the middle of the truck, and after one solid bounce over the river we almost all went into the drink.  Someone came up with the great idea of linking arms around eachother, and sure enough, the sexual innuendo was present, as man and woman alike were clinging to one another just to stay in the truck and not wind up on the road. 
“Ok, Daniel.  How often are you going to be doing this?  It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when you are going to  wind up seriously hurt.”   It was then I made up my mind that I’d be buying the cheapest scooter I could find. 
As we reached the market, Ya-Yan jumped off and it was time to pay the taxi.  I gave him 50 goude, and he smiled and started to walk away.  Ya-Yan got all up in his business, giving him a scolding, and he turned to give me back 5 goude.  She gave him another scolding, and he gave me back 5 more goude.  
‘Blanc!’ the man side with a surprised look, which in translation meant, “Woman are you nuts, he’s a white!  Who’s side are you on??”  She gave him this kind of motherly “You ought to be ashamed of yourself” look.
I just smiled.  It was nice to have a Haitian backing me.  
You have to shout when you are in a sea of people in an open air market. 
By the way, the air is anything but open. They should call it a fishy-anything-but-air market.  All those people, hot sweaty, and crammed like sardines, mixed with trucks and motorcycles spewing black exhaust, mixed with the smell of fresh hacked chicken, goat, and fish, and then burning garbage. 
Mmmmm-mmmmmm.  Now add to it, the mud and water and waste you’re walking through.  I’m surely going to take a picture, but it’s not a place I’m comfortable to bring a big camera yet.  There’s simply too man opportunists eyeing you, and even in that sea of people, you stand out. 
Ya-Yan didn’t speak a lick of Creole, and every time I tried to talk, she’d shout at me, “Pale Creole!”  (Speak Creole!) 
“M’Pale Creole!” I’d shout back. (I am speaking Creole!) But apparently my Creole doesn’t sound Haitian enough yet.  I think my language needs a name all it’s own, so I’m choosing either to call it Crenglish or Crengole.  I haven’t decided which yet.  But I can tell you this. I’m an expert at it, and I think I should set up a school or two now and really rake in the goude teaching this to the kids all over the countryside.  Future missionaries will thank me. :)
Also, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate math.  So, naturally, when it came time to learn the Creole number system...yep, I skipped it.  Now, here, standing among this unbelievable crowd, the woman selling me the salami thinks I’m insane.   Ya-Yan can’t believe what she signed up for.  
“Konbyen for the lwil? Ou kapab ekri that pou mwen, I have no idea kisa ou di! Montre mwen?  Montre mwen lajan!.  Travay avek mwen isit la. Mwen aprann.”
(How much for the oil?  Can you write that for me, I have no idea what you’re saying.  Show me?  Show me the money! Work with me here. I’m learning.” )
We finally got what was on my list, and I hoped to follow her around and learn more, but soon as I shouted that I was finished, she immediately put me on a motorcycle tap-tap and sent me scooting back to the village.  She was done baby-sitting the white boy.   She smiled and we parted ways still friends.   I knew I was bringing down her market experience, and it was amazing to learn from her.  It was like following around Oliver Twist or Huck Finn.  She was street savvy, tough as they come, not gonna take a lick of sass from anybody, and smart as a whip.  It was a privilege to be with her.   
On the way home, the motorcycle tap-tap blew his tire, and we ended up walking home together. He was very embarrassed, so I tried to make light of it.  It was interesting to me that he wasn’t going to ask me for the fare.  It would have been considered wrong to do so, since his tire blew and his client had to walk.   But I paid the man anyway.  For one, I really respected that kind of ethic, and number two, the man needs a tire now to provide for his family.

1 comment:

  1. One of my scariest experiences while traveling was in a market full of locals (and thieves). Be careful! And, you're probably wise not to take your camera.