1. We are waiting at the little airport, where there is a large Haitian woman. I mean she was almost wider than taller (bless her heart) all decked out looking like a million bucks. A Haitian gentleman walks by, eyes her up and down and says loudly in Creole, “You are a big girl, you lookin’ good”. And she smiles and says “mmmmhmmm”. Not only is this not an insult, here In Haiti, it’s a compliment.
2. Whenever we come back from the States, any Haitian who knows us greets us with the following two lines: “mwen contann we ou, and ou we gwo” “I’m happy to see you, and you look big”. Again, something they mean as a compliment. But, I did not know that at first. The first time we left and came back, and everyone was fawning over us saying you look big, you look very big, I was so offended. And I didn’t know people well enough to ask them why on earth would you tell me I look big?? I mean, I do always gain a few pounds when back at home, we both do, as we gluttonously divulge on all food we love, since we’ll be deprived of it for months at at time. But, it is meant as a compliment cause in Haiti everyone knows bigger people have money, cause they can afford to eat enough food to make them big. So, I’ve learned to not be offended, and offer a mild “thanks”, even though I still don’t like being told I look big!
3.All white people are called ‘blanc’ (white) here. It seems so insulting at times, when children and adults yell it at you all day long. When we drive along in a car, walk down the street, hang out on our roof, people yell it at us to get our attention. They don’t mean anything mean by it, it’s basically the word they use for foreigner, pretty much anyone who isn’t black. Of course, this just plain gets annoying. But sometimes it just seems wrong when I think of what they are saying in english, ‘white, white, white!’ I mean really, can you image walking down the street at home and someone yelling that at you?
4. It is perfectly acceptable to be taking to someone, even a stranger, and in the middle of your conversation decide that you need to pick you nose. In Haiti, you don’t have to wait until you duck into a dark corner or turn your back to watching eyes to pick your gold. You can just go for it. In fact, keep talking while you dig, and really make sure you clean out all those nasty boogies.
5. You can go to the bathroom anywhere here. No one runs the risk of getting a ticket for indecent exposure. It’s just like in the states though, there are some who take advantage simply cause they can. I can’t even count the number of times we walk down the street and pass a guy who seems to be just leaning against the wall, until you see a small puddle form at his feet.(hmm, yes it’s just men who seem to take advantage of this!) while others still choose to find the bush off to the side to take care of business.
6. Meat in the US is certified in some way, whether it’s the USDA or Certified Organic…whatever. The goal is to make sure the meat is what is says it is, safe to eat, and has standards. We just discovered that our neighbors, the Dominican Republic, has decided they are going to make standards for meat too. They want the meat that comes from Haiti to be standardized, and the label? “Not cholera meat”. I guess that is all they ask, don’t give us meat with Cholera in it-we’ll take everything else though.
7. One word. Revival. In Haiti, they take their revivals seriously. They happen inside the church, and it’s quite an experience. I have yet to go inside and participate, but I have been a part of it from the comfort of my own home. It is perfectly fine that you use amplified music from 9am till about 4am, rocking songs, yelling about how much Jesus loves everyone. And, truthfully, no one seems to mind! Haitians love it, expect it, look forward to it-and if you don’t participate, you just silently put up with it.