Are you ready to grossed out? Get ready.
Have you ever eaten a snotball?
OK, they're not really snotballs; they're called kenep and they are a little fruit that grows in tall trees in Haiti, ripening in the late summer and early fall. They taste quite good, but upon first inspection, I can understand why my friend Sam called them snotballs. They really do look slimy and nasty.
The kids love them, especially because they don't have to buy them like most fruit which grows in the countryside. We can pick them right here in Port-au-Prince. So a few weeks ago, my neighborhood kids enlisted my help to go gather kenep. We went to the school across the street and asked the guard at the gate for permission to climb the tree and pick fruit. He looked at me and started laughing, "You won't be able to!" He didn't say "white girl" but I know that's what he was thinking. White people, especially white women, do not climb trees.
That decided it. I was climbing that tree, as high as I could climb, and I was getting as many kenep as I could reach. I'll show you, guard, that white girls can indeed climb trees!
A boy named Jonny went up with me and we stripped that tree of kenep, dropping them down to the eager girls waiting below. When we finally climbed down, you can bet that I gave that guard a very sweet smile on my way out.
(I have to confess, I really am not the greatest tree climber, but this particular tree is right beside the house, so all you have to do is walk up the stairs to the roof and then up into the tree. Quite painless.)
We ate kenep on my porch and on my roof and threw kenep across the street to some little boys playing soccer. The kids showed me how to make pwanch, a drink of kenep, moonshine, sugar and cinnamon. Unfortunately, I don't moonshine at the Teacup, so we had it with the sugar and cinnamon only.
And the guard? He looks at me with a slightly crooked smile every time he sees me. I think he's still laughing at me.