after a full 10 hours of travel, we have arrived once again, safe and sound at the little block guesthouse behind the kelly green gate on this crumbling, steep road in this tiny corner of Delmas. Flying low enough to see the towns and mountains below, there is such wonder at all this life brimming on this island way, way out here, isolated from all other life...all these people only a 2-hour plan ride from Florida but such a world away.
Walking outside the airport baggage claim in Port-au-Prince, so many thoughts descend like a clattering: there is nothing so immediately disorienting as being immersed in a language you cannot understand, even a LITTLE bit. There is only one familiar face, but many people all rushing to hand me things, take things, all at the ready and I keep repeating "no, mesí" ("no, thanks") while trying to look sure of myself though I am not. It's breathtakingly hot weather in Port-au-Prince. There is a breeze from somewhere descending in soft waves from way up over the top of this island, but it is still "Sarasota-in-mid-July-hot" here in October. Andrew and I are sweating, silently hoping we each packed enough deodorant for this trip by the time we crawl into the truck which collects us from the parking lot and we remained that way throughout dinner, all evening and likely will remain hot and sweaty until we board an airplane on Monday. The heat is pervasive, everywhere. I had really forgotten.
After dinner, we headed over to the orphanage with our guides, the young married missionary couple who we've never met before, living these 6 months at the orphanage. They are heading over to the orphanage for the night, (after our very American meal of spaghetti with meat sauce and salad, with a Haitian side of breadfruit loaf) and they offer to give us a lift. It's literally about a 3 minute commute by truck. The orphanage is the same except for the mural of a massive oak tree on the wall, adorned with photos of adoptive families and their children who have already headed home since we visited in January. The wooden gate, still latched the same way, swings open and there they all are: all 13 babies, gaping and shyly staring in fascination and a little fear at the tall, white couple who enters. I see our baby out of the corner of my eye on the right, in a nanny's lap. She sees me. It's hot. My cheeks are completely flushed. All my energy is spent greeting babies, exclaiming over their size as I gently make my way through the awestruck crowd of children, all under 4 years. Still, she hasn't moved. If anything, she sinks deeper into her nanny. It is so hot, I can feel sweat rolling, can see her own throat shimmering with it, and her tiny eyes are cutting a sideways glance at me so fearfully I barely greet her at first, trying to sandwich my greeting to her between other children's. The room feels like a million degrees but the tile floor is cold and white and it's sureness is such a comfort. Most of the first hour was spent letting the babies crawl all over us, jumping up and down, throwing themselves into our laps and on our backs, everyone very content to have new people to play with, everyone but our precious daughter - her insistence to stay walled off to us almost complete for the first hour.
A beautiful thing began to happen, though, as playtime ramped up into Ring Around the Rosie and Pat-a-Cake...though it was boiling hot under one lone ceiling fan, though we were entertaining like we were in sequins and character shoes on Broadway, though Andrew looked like he had stepped out of a sauna and I like my hair had a life of it's own…she started to play with us. She was holding our hands, she was smiling, she was blowing kisses, she YOU GUYS she REMEMBERED how to do the sign for "I love you" without being prompted by us...all that stifling, smothering heat...it refined for us an half hour of pure joy.
She knows us.
This time here, it is precious but it is not ideal. Ideal would be bringing her home. Now. Immediately. Elbowing past everyone and locking the doors once we have her inside our home, that would be ideal. But this heat? It's what she knows...it's her familiar and though it feels like a furnace to me - spending time with her on her terms, under observant eyes, in a foreign country where we can barely communicate let alone find comfort...it is forging something magnificent.
"You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon us...We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance." - Psalm 66:10-12
Goodnight from Haiti from us both