Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas night

After the party, the older boys and girls mostly just sat around, listening to music on the big speakers. It was the little guys, Job, Jude and Hermilus, with the ever helpful Peterson and Bernadin who assisted me, Nikki and Bryn in cleaning up the monstrous mess. We finally got things settled to normal and sent the girls upstairs and the boys back to their house.

Job, working hard to prove to me that he is not the little "dezod" creator that he was acting like, so that I would agree to give him his Christmas present from his mom.

Job and Peterson

Job, Hermilus, Peterson and Jude
Nikki and I took quick showers, grabbed our sheets, pillows and flashlights, and went to the boys' house to spend the night on the roof. I am sorry to say that roof-sleeping is now banned as of January 1st. Apparently, Dr Bernard never gave me his permission to sleep up there with the boys (though I specifically remember asking him about both the girls and the boys) and he feels that it is too dangerous since we could easily be shot when we are standing up. I find that sort of funny because I could easily be shot at almost any moment that I am outdoors in Bolosse but I haven't been yet. Still, I understand his concern.

This is what sleeping on the roof with the boys can be like - NOT sleeping! They get really hyper and really crazy and some of them, like Emmanuel, never even fall asleep.

Drisk going crazy, which is a pretty common occurence.

The boys used to be petrified of the idea of sleeping on the roof - werewolves, demons, cats...they believe that there are all kinds of horrible things out to get them. But this was our 4th or 5th time sleeping on the roof, and nearly everyone was up there with us.
Finally asleep. Well, obviously, I wasn't asleep, since I was talking the picture. I have Miscardet to blame for that. His mattress was right near my head and he did not go to sleep all night. Not only did he not sleep, but he didn't stop talking or yelling to the other boys. So every time I started to fall asleep, he woke me up with a yell or a conversation. I wanted to throw him off the roof!
The boys loved this picture of the moon. I'm not sure why. Maybe it made them feel like it wasn't that dark and scary after all.
I slept on a mattress beside Bernadin and we talked for a long time before falling asleep. He told me stories about his Haitian family and stories about growing up at the orphanage. He said that once, when he was little, he saw demons in the orphanage. According to him, they looked like people but they were dressed all in red and were carrying flashlights. He had been told by someone that if a demon flashes you with his light, you will die. I was just about to ask Bernadin if he was scared when he put his hand over his heart and started thumping it on his chest to show me how hard his heart was beating. Clearly, he was scared out of his mind! He told me about another time when he and the other boys heard demons come onto the roof of their house and crawl about, scratching and thumping. In case you are thinking that only the kids talk about demons with such absolute belief, Bernadin also talked about his physics teacher who has told them stories about demons and has warned them that if you get poked by a broken mirror that is cursed, you can get sick and die. The ironic thing is that this particular teacher is also very good at explaining Biblical concepts. Bernadin said that whenever his classmates (Duckhein, for example) want to stall the teacher and postpone talking about the lesson, they ask him questions about the Bible and he gives them solid answers.

It is just remarkable how different the culture is, that educated, Christian people like Bernadin's teacher can be such staunch believers in demons. Growing up in America, demons are not something that I ever thought about, but now that I have lived in Haiti, I wonder if maybe there is more truth to it than what I used to believe. There was strange music being played all night from some house up the hill, with drumming and chanting accompanying it. This wasn't the first time that I had heard it, but I had never thought about what it might be. "That's voo-doo music," the boys said. "Are you scared?" For the hundredth time, I told them, "No, I'm not scared because we're not alone up here. God is with us and he is protecting us from anything that might want to harm us." And for the hundredth time, they believed me and stayed on the roof beside me.

One of the other things that Bernadin shared was also a matter of cultural difference. The kids had a teacher/nanny named Chantal when they were little and she used to punish them for not knowing their lessons or for acting up in class. Sometimes she spanked them Haitian style, and other times she made them sit or crouch in odd positions. Bernadin remembers one time that she made him stay in one position for so long that when she finally released him to go to bed, he was so sore and stiff that he couldn't climb up to his bed on the top bunk. Chantal still teaches at our school, but she has mellowed as she has gotten older and none of the teachers are allowed to give physical punishments, only Dr. Bernard, Michaelle, and the director of the school.

Waking up - Bernadin's attempt at giving me the evil eye for taking his photo when he was still in bed. He really isn't very good at acting mad, is he?

Duck, Job and Nikki hiding from Dorval who had decided it was his duty to wake us all up with water sprinkling.

By 5am, all the boys were awake. Considering we didn't start falling asleep until about 1am, that meant for a short night. Short night means tired boys and tired boys means hyper boys. Mathurin got them all started in a raccous game of mattress diving. One boy would dive onto a mattress on the floor and then immediately, the other boys would run, holding their mattresses in front of them, and leap on top of him. So he was instantly squashed by a pile of boys and mattresses. They loved it!

No comments: