Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Different Noel

Yesterday morning Chelo and I embarked on another journey to find a new road and see just how far it would play out.  We came to the end of the line, and I marked in my GPS where the new trailhead began.  There's a new church just up the mountain another quarter-mile.   I've been taking note of the open huts, the gathering places that dot the tops of each ridge.   Some of them have large drums.  I remembered reading a book by a Haitian author about these huts, how they're used for Voodoo.   I've yet to confirm that, since it seems against the culture and etiquette to speak of it openly. 

On the way back I stopped to say hello to a man who I think is involved in Voodoo.  He was very kind to me.  He told me he was thinking he might come to pay me a visit for 'the party'.  

"What party?" I said.
"Ahhhh.   I see."
I'm still not sure how I feel about that.

From noon on we spent half the day cooking a special Christmas Eve supper for some friends. Yes, it takes that long to prepare a big meal in Haiti. Alot of time hovering over the dutch ovens. The time for them to arrive came and went, and for 2 hours we tried to keep everything warm. Finally we got word that they were unable to come, and so we sat and ate as a family. You know the parable in the Bible about the banquet that was prepared, and then nobody showed? We had more clarity on that message than ever before. We went out into the street and invited a neighbor over. By then the food was cold, but she was happy to take a plate home. It was a bitter sweet experience for Christmas Eve.

This morning we started early, just after sunrise, tending the fire to get the coals hot for cooking apple crisp and brownies. The neighbor lady Tililene began burning huge piles of garbage in anticipation of the owner of the house to show tomorrow. Preparations for his arrival are underway. The air is filled with smoke from burning fires. I opened the back gate and walked down to the river. Little Bebe was wading in the middle, using a long stick to fish out whatever might be laying on the river bottom that might be worth something. It's Christmas morning. I noticed the size of his arms. Sticks. He's deaf and doesn't make words, but he understood me when I asked him to come with me. We had a fresh coconut cut just for him, ready for the drinking. Then my son brought him a cold chunk of fudge. It took him 10 minutes to eat it. His smile was huge as he savored the taste of the rich chocolate.

Kari and I watched the sun coming over the mountains across the ocean.  The kids sipped on a special treat, hot chocolate.  I sipped on my coffee and told my wife,
"It's really like being back in Wyoming, except all the low-country is blue. I'm still looking out at big, beautiful mountains."
"Yeah, and you're in the tropics, it's already hot, that's an ocean, there are Haitians, they speak another language, they have an entirely different culture, Christmas Eve is an all-night party and Christmas is just another day."   She said.
"Hmmmm.  Yeah, it's a little different."   

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