Saturday, May 29, 2010


Demolition at St Joseph's has continued at a steady pace. Dieuseul, one of the guards, has been named the foreman on the jobsite so Bill and Michael do not have to oversee so frequently. He keeps everyone productive throughout the day, and he works very hard himself. At the end of the day, he is the last person to take a shower and go home. Unless he has guard duty - then he stays the night protecting St Joe's and, beyond his job description, protecting me.

Last week, the crew was tearing apart the 4th floor, where the guest rooms once were. I never realized how colorful those rooms were!

Most of the time, I can forget how much I loved the old St Joseph's and I can just enjoy the cheerful camradery of the demolition workers and the sense of progress as they go lower and lower. When I got back to the Shoebox after my visit to Boston in early May, I woke up the first morning to the familiar sound of sledgehammers pounding concrete, and I thought, "I'm home." Every now and then, though, we have moments when we remember that it was not always like this! There was once a lovely tall building, full of art and flowers and music. I was helping clean out the Art Center when I came across one of my favorite paintings: a creative portrait of Walnes, the dance instructor, surrounded by images of the St Joseph's life. It survived the quake but it was badly ripped. A metaphor for all of us, perhaps?

This week, demolition has reached the 3rd floor and started going down onto the second floor, where the kitchen and dining room were. For once, my Shoebox is taller than St Joe's! Instead of looking out my bedroom window at a gray wall, I now look out at a view of the city and the mountains behind it. Plus, I have a wonderful breeze! Maybe they'll decide to build a very short new building...

All the rubble being removed from St Joe's lands in front of my house where a dump truck comes and removes loads several times a day. I'm used to it now but it gets annoying when the rubble comes too close to my door or when it blocks my path up or across the street. The guys are wonderful, though. They truly do look out for me and part of that means making sure that at the end of the day, my door is clear and I have a walkway up the road and across to St Joe's. My highlight of last week was when I walked outside after the work day had ended and saw Bill and 4 of the boys shoveling furiously to clear me a path.

St Joseph's is not the only building coming down in Port-au-Prince. Demo teams are working by hand all over the city and the streets are becoming more and more congested as rubble is simply dumped into the street and never removed. Occasionally, a building still comes down of its own accord. At the top of my street, the building that has been leaning precariously over the street for the past 4 months, finally crashed down last week. I have heard different reports, but it seems that only 2 or 3 people died in the collapse. Now that several schools are open in my neighborhood, school children and parents fill that street from 7am to 9am. The building fell at 7:30am. It could have been much worse!



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