As I am passing my time in Jacmel, I am understanding more and more about the Haitian way. They are just so incredibly friendly, and always seem to know how to enjoy each moment. Where ever we go, where ever we walk, everyone is all smiles- strangers, children, all exclaiming bon soir to us. It makes me so happy, and I wonder what makes some cultures so warm and welcoming while others are not.
I was supposed to teach 7 hours of lessons yesterday, but because of the huge storm, not many students were able to make it to the school. So I ended up only seeing three students. My second lesson of the day was a trumpet player named Charles. He loves jazz so much, and so we spent a lot of time just working on phrasing and expression on 'Autumn Leaves' and 'April In Paris.' He is such a tremendous player and musician, and with some direction around phrasing, emotion and dynamics, he was just beautiful. It was such an incredibly rewarding lesson for me to teach as well- to see right in front of me how the songs transformed with some guidance and direction.
After lunch I taught a sweet old lady named Miss Norma. She loves music so much, she hangs around school all day, taking music lesson from whoever she can. She plays violin, so she's learning from Heidi, and then always sits in on my voice lessons and will just stay for hours. There's something really adorable and childish about her, like some type of mischief in her eyes. She is such a musical zealot, and has all of these exaggerated hand motions when she speaks but then smiles sweetly at everything. It's so cute.
If we have down time in between lessons, we will just chill in the school's office, as they have wireless (albeit very slow). Alland, the student who took us on our crazy rainstorm adventure, was playing some sick Haitian music in the office, so we just all did some hip shaking and dancing. I implored Alland to put some Haitian songs on my flashdrive to bring back to America with me!
Since some of my students didn't show up, I decided to go back to my dorm and do some work. JD's younger son, Buck (he's nine), is a gregarious, adorable little mini person. He loves to hang out with us (his dad says he's a ladies man), and he will just spend hours just chatting, helping us, hanging out in our room, etc. He loves the ladies! Talks a mile a minute, sometimes so much that I have to tune him out, because he could probably talk all day, and I have to write this blog before I forget everything that happened. He is so much energy! Buck has been home-schooled this last year as he's traveled around the world doing aid work with his dad and brother. Like a true student, he's always finding reasons to not do his homework. But his dad makes sure he completes his work before he's allowed to play. Here's Buck diligently finishing up some work so he can come out with us.
He's quite precious and so thoughtful, we've gotten used to having him around. We are going to miss him too much when he leaves for Port Au Prince with his family on Wednesday.
That's me passed out, because I am hot and tired, and Buck is regaling us with long story straight out of his imagination.
I had many firsts for myself today. This is wash and dry a la Haitian style.
After my wash and dry set up was complete, it was time for dinner. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we eat most of our meals at this woman Mila's home. Mila has an arrangement with the school to prepare food on a daily basis for professors and workers of the school. Mila is an amazing cook, and makes some of the tastiest food I have ever had. It's also a kickass way for us to become aquatinted with some legit, authentic Haitian food.
Mila has a 10 year old daughter, named Fiame. Fiame is the sweetest girl, with a smile that would light up anyone's day. She's always there to greet us, with that smile that reaches from one ear to the other, and a small glisten in her eye. I wish I were able to speak French so we could communicate more, but we smile at each other a lot and that works!
It is customary in Haitian culture to eat the biggest meal of the day at lunch. Breakfast and dinner are light meals. We Americans are clearly not used to this. At Mila's for dinner, we had bread, mango and avocado. Heidi encouraged us to eat mango a la Haitian style. This means you bite into the mango with your teeth, rip off a little part of the skin, then continue peeling the skin with your hands until you see the actual meat of the mango. You sort of hold the mango almost as if you are eating chicken off a bone, and just bite into it. This mango might have been the most delicious mango I have ever had in my life - pure sweet, delightful, fresh sugar. I am still dreaming about it. I devoured the mango within minutes. Someone should have given me a bib because I looked like a 2 year old toddler learning how to properly eat but keeps dirtying himself and spitting up. Nevertheless, it was a blissful experience.
Aline even thoughtfully had a spool of dental floss waiting for us to remove the small strings that get caught in teeth from the mango.
It was a delightful meal with delightful company.
After our 'dinner' it became clear that we were not used to the Haitian tradition of a light dinner seeing as we were already making plans for our next meal.
We walked to the Florita with Buck, Jack and J.D. to finish our day with an evening of cards, blogging, red wine and peanuts. All in all, another great day.