A sense of longing

The beauty of growing is that each morning is a new day of lessons. This morning I realize that if I stay in one place for too many days in a row, a longing sets in. Today, I’m longing for mountains.

This is my 11th day of waking up in Haiti. And in the same room, no less. A personal best after a series of weeklong trips to Haiti. But a drop in the bucket compared to my near future.

I’m here for the long haul this time. It is one thing to understand this intellectually. It’s a slow burn as it sets in. And it’s good, all good, but an adjustment every day.

I’m fortunate to stay in a beautiful, comfortable and reasonably priced hotel. Trinity Lodge is on Delmas 75, a very nice neighborhood. And only three days into my stay here, I found the apartment where I want to live — in the same neighborhood! Amazing! But as things go in a place like Haiti, it’s sloooooow going. The real estate agent had to travel out of town and progress halted for a week.

And I’ve spent that week here in the lodge, walking about the neighborhood, meeting new and wonderful people, getting to know other lodge-dwellers, visiting two different churches and — well, a lot of time to look out over the city from the lodge balcony.

I hope we will make progress on the rental this afternoon, and this morning I’m reflecting of what I’ve learned so far in the city of Port-au-Prince.

All five of your senses are overwhelmed here. The sounds of barking dogs, crowing roosters, crying children, little boys calling for their Poppi — over and over again calling for Poppi! Poppi! Poppi!

The sights of work. Not far from here one morning, I watched at least 20 workers spent one day pouring concrete on the roof of a long building. While the spinning concrete truck poured it out, workers filled gallon buckets and handed them, one at a time, to more workers up a tall ladder. On the roof, more workers carried a bucket from the roof’s edge over to where it was needed, and empty buckets were brought back to the edge and lowered by sliding down a rope. Then the process started all over again.

The sight of school children rushing back and forth to school in bright navy blue uniforms, then changing quickly into their other clothes to play in the streets. It’s often soccer if they have a ball, or a kickball game but with a rock.

The constant feel of rolling sweat in the high heat and humidity or a treasured breeze.

The smell of burning garbage or the stinging odor of black smoke rolling from a vehicle’s exhaust is tempered by the light scent of perfumed blossoms and meals prepared either in kitchens or along the road by merchants selling “fast food” like roasted corn on the cob.

And the layered taste of slow cooked foods — roasted chicken, goat stew, rice and beans — and sliced melon, mango, banana or, my favorite, fresh avocado. How ironic that in a nation of so many hungry people those with resources eat so well. Each bite reminds me of the reason so many of us are here, and why so many of you support us in our work.

Yes, the city life has its perks, but my longing? It’s for mountains. I’m drawn to them like to water. In the Shenandoah Valley and in Haiti. And once I get the apartment deal settled, that’s where I’ll head here. I’m going to spend about a month in Cherident, the place where I’ve often visited with Tinkling Spring Church. I will live with a family and work hard on my Creole. Prayers are welcomed for this project, by the way!

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A scene from the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
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A scene from a road in southern Haiti.

And even when I return to the city, this will be my base. I hope that my work with FONDAMA, an association of agricultural groups, will find me often in the countryside, enjoying the mountains and valleys of this beautiful country. For now, though, I dream of mountains, both here and far away in my native land.

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Author: Cindy Corell

My journey began some time ago, through growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, through a 28-year-career as a newspaper reporter and editor and through my faith experiences. Now my journey takes me to Haiti where I work as a companionship facilitator with Joining Hands, a program through Presbyterian Church (USA). I work with Haitian farmer groups who strive to empower, strengthen and accompany farmers on their way to feeding their nation again. I am blessed beyond measure with a wonderfully supportive family, a host of close friends and an opportunity to work in Haiti.

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