I think it's safe to say I have moved past rookie status here in Haiti.
First piece of evidence: Footwear
Within the past 3 days, I have gone down two pairs of flip flops due to wear and tear. The first set broke on my way down the hill to youth on Friday. Teagan and I were walking down the rocky road and I began to feel a loosened grip on my sandal. Looking down, I realized that the centre piece of plastic where my toes slip in had broken off. I ended up having to twist the sole into a different position so that I could walk the rest of the way down with somewhat of a support. Teagan thought my mangled invention was pretty funny. Then yesterday afternoon, another pair of sandals bit the dust as I was sliding down one of the twisty slides on the playground with the Hope House kids. My flip flop got strained just a little too much by one of the bodies sliding down with me, and the same break as the first pair happened again.
I am beginning to realize that rubber flip flops don't quite cut it in this country. Fortunately, I have numerous other pairs to keep me going until July although, I am beginning to think that Birkenstocks may be a worthy investment for next year! :)
More evidence: Caribbean Chef
I am proud to announce that I have officially mastered the art of homemade guacamole. I have been waiting for months to see avocados come back in season, and in my last trip to market I was thrilled to find many people selling them. I bought myself a good stock and I've been perfecting my recipe. Avocado mixed with diced tomatoes and a squeeze of fresh lime juice is a winning combination! It's been a refreshing treat to make for myself with chips and crackers. You really can't beat the selection of mouthwatering tropical fruits and vegetables in this country... On Saturday morning after my walk I indulged in a delicious mango-banana smoothie. It sure hit the spot!
And more evidence: I'm a Relaxed Passenger
When I rode along to the city or villages during my first months in Haiti, I was at risk of hyperventilating if I paid attention to the driving patterns. No joke. I had to distract myself with other things going on around me instead of the road because the constant pot holes, animals, people and giant busses veering and swerving around us at all times stressed me out. However, I realized my accommodation to this type of driving the other day when I was traveling to an orphanage with Laurens and Cheryl. I was sitting beside 2 of the guests they had that week, and I was quite amused by the reaction of one of the girls in particular (if you are reading this Kaylee, yes I am talking about you! haha!). It was really hilarious because I could totally see myself in her as she braced herself in the seat and made constant gasps at incoming road blocks as we bounced along the road. I admit that even in Canada I have been known to get a little jumpy when it comes to riding along with an aggressive driver. But in Haiti, such is life and I feel like it's becoming more normal everyday! It should be interesting to see if my driving patterns change when I return to Canada based on this new adjustment... You may want to watch out for me on the roads this summer! :)
Other tidbits and progress:
I am FINALLY beginning to understand Creole! At Friday's youth service, there was a leader who was doing a devotional and as I listened I began to pick out different words and piece them together. I was really in 'the zone'. I actually found myself interpreting what he was saying and checked with my friend Vena (who speaks Creole and English), to find that I was right about the verse he was talking about - Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example to other believers in how you live, how you love and in what you believe (1 Timothy 4:12). Needless to say I was pretty proud of myself! Also, when I was playing with the Hope House kids yesterday, I was pleased with my ability to communicate with them, and I even learned a rock counting game that some of the girls taught me. All of these things I could not do when I arrived in September so it's exciting for me to see progress! Don't be deceived... I am not even close to fluency, but these instances do give me hope!
With that said, I am also becoming more familiar with Creole worship songs. Usually once or twice a week my friend Jean-Marc from the Hope House comes over to practice guitar and I sing along the words in Creole. We sing songs like 'Here I am to Worship', 'Forever', and 'I Could Sing of Your Love Forever'. I often have to catch myself when I'm singing because once I get going I feel like I remember the Creole words even easier than the English! It's a beautiful thing to be a part of the worship on Sunday mornings and to sing songs of praise in a different language. In my first few months here, I would always sing along in English while the rest of the congregation sang in Creole, but over time I've been able to join them in their language. There is something special about singing in a different language and yet still understanding the meaning. I am sure this summer when I'm back in Wainfleet you will be able to catch me singing the Creole words to some familiar songs while the rest of you are singing in English! :)
Well, I think that's all the 'evidence' I have for now... It's my hope that the list keeps growing! :)