I give away a lot of food here in Haiti. Neighborhood kids, street kids, beggar ladies on the corner, youth group kids...My most frequent visitors are Obed and Jean Marc, the brothers who followed me around for several months after the earthquake. Their dad died a few years ago and their mother lost her janitorial job after the quake, leaving her destitute with 8 children in her care. Obed and Jean Marc come to my house every night for dinner. Every night. Sometimes it gets annoying, especially when they show up at 9pm and I'm already in my pjs, but what can I do? Some days, the food I give them is the only food they eat all day long.
So it was quite a surprise when they showed up last night and didn't want any food. Instead, they handed me a bag of mangos and a stack of little bowls with a complete traditional Good Friday feast: rice and beans, boiled plaintain, dried fish sauce, lettuce, tomato, and beet-potato salad! To be totally honest, I only really like the mangos and the salads, but I was really touched by the gesture.
An hour later, another knock on the door and my neighbor Alix, the man who is responsible for the tent city, was there with a foot-long egg sandwich that he had made for me! Apparently, Good Friday is the day to make your American friends fat.
Gifts of food are just part of why Good Friday was special. Kites are the main event. I got home from work in the late afternoon and joined all the young people on the roof of my next door neighbor's house to fly kites! We had a variety of kites donated from the US by the Roanoke medical team, little plastic bag kites made by the younger kids, and big wooden framed kites crafted by the teenagers and young men.
All over town, roof tops were full of children kite fighting, sending their kites across ravines to catch and cut down other kites. Kites whose strings break or that get caught in trees are finders-keepers, and though there is a lot of yelling and mock anger, the whole event is a study in good sportmanship.
I love days like yesterday - days when everyone is united in the pursuit of something beautiful. Days when no one asks me for money or food or medical care because we are all perfectly content. Days when we can fully appreciate Haitian culture without voodoo influence or the corruption that is so common here. Days when it doesn't matter that I'm white and everyone else is not. A good day.