Saturday, July 16, 2011

June 19 & 20 - Plateau Anse Rouge

Getting from Passe Catabois to Anse Rouge was a fairly direct route.  However, there is not exactly a well established road.

Here is our map.  Driving in Haiti is more a directional thing and less about landmarks.  We headed in the right direction with the names of a few villages along the way: Atrel, A' Larbe and then finally Anse Rouge.    We knew we needed to head south towards the coast.  We used our Haitian GPS, instead of a box in our car, we stopped people on the way to make sure we were heading in the right direction.

We drove basically straight south but the road itself was like a pretzel.  We twisted and turned our way through the country side.  We passed several communities where the people we passed seemed very surprised to see two vehicles, not to mention those two vehicles full of white people.  The areas we drove through are very dry and arid.  Lots of cactus and aloe.  I have never seen the like, aloe grew in huge circles of ground.  We used (Mom still does) aloe for everything from cuts to deep wounds and everything in between.  We commented that out here where medical care it practically non-existent, God provided a healing plant in an over abundance!

On one section of road, a two ladies were heading to the closest village for market day and they were each riding a donkey and had another just following, no being led.  As we passed them we could see something in the road ahead, it was another donkey just wandering along the road. 

We finally made our way across the "wilderness" and pulled out onto the main road along the southern side of the North coast.  We had been looking for a short cut that would bring us out right in the heart of the town of Anse Rouge but it is not like there are road signs so we missed it.  We were about 8 miles or so south of Anse Rouge so when we finally hit town, we had to drive all the way through to get to Judy and Manis who live several miles outside of Anse Rouge.  We were watching for the newly installed windmill as that was our indication that we were close.  We had been following a huge dump truck out of Anse Rouge and got separated from the second vehicle.  We turned off the main road on to the Lemuel Ministries property (the ministry that Manis and Judy operate in this area) (  We had borrowed some walkie-talkies from friends from my church so we tried to reach Matt and crew, only to find out that they had not seen us turn off and were still following the dump truck.  They found a place to turn around and we finally arrived at the Dilus family home. What a day . . .

Judy (Muchmore) Dilus, Phyllis, Amy and Karen Schmid.

We spent some time just relaxing and chatting with Judy and Manis.  Judy and Josene (pronounced "jos-e-en") had prepare a wonderful supper of rice and bean sauce, creole chicken, legume and banan peze!  We even had M&M cookies for dessert!  Judy and Manis had eaten their big meal at lunch so neither ate with us but they did sit with us.  Their daughter, Anya (Ani to all), however was more than willing to dig in.  When Judy and Ani come to Port-au-Prince, they stay with Mom and Dad so Ani is very familiar with them.  She sat with Mom and wanted Mom to help her.  It was so cute!  "Aunt Phyllis do" was a recurring phrase.

After supper we headed down to join Manis at the windmill which is a mile or so down the road from where Judy and Manis live.  We walked down but halfway down, Dad went back for the truck for us to ride back.  The windmill fills a cistern at the edge of the road where every other day, the community can come get water.  Water is in very short supply in this area and many walk several miles to find water.  Having the windmill filled cistern saves the community from having to walk so far for water which might not be available if there has been no rain to fill the water source.

The local church shares part of the Lemuel Ministries property as well as the majority of a small runway that  Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) uses when they are chartered to fly to Anse Rouge.  Most often, Judy and Manis drive to Port-au-Prince but sometimes they fly.  When the runway is not being used, the local boys have taken over for a friendly game of soccer, the national sport in Haiti.

Judy and Manis have built a very nice guesthouse where they are able to host teams and visitors.  They have big windows and so a nice breeze kept us comfortable.  There are outdoor showers and outhouses.  Let me tell you, they have really made their's nice.  Cement walls, pretty wallpaper, no smell!  It was awesome!  I have been in some doozy outhouses.  This was wonderful.  One of the men who work with Judy and Manis, Berlan, joined us for breakfast.  He speaks English very well, despite is reticence to do so.  As we chatted over breakfast, we realized that Matt and Berlan studied the same subject: Political Sciences.  Pretty cool!

Sunday morning we were treated to homemade pastry and Haitian style eggs and superb Haitian coffee.  We then walked down the path to church.  We obviously stood out pretty good - 10 white people - but the community was so welcoming.  We sang some of my favorite songs.  Part of the service was to have each class, including the adults, report on attendance, offering amount and recite the class verse.  There was much laughter when the attendance number was announced.  The service leader teased the class that they could not count the 10 visitors.

Manis asked Dad to introduce the group and share a bit.  Dad shared a bit about where we had been and why we were in their area.  He also shared what route we took to get there.  The congregation was so surprised to hear our route as it was so out of the way.  After the service, we packed up and loaded the trucks.  We had a yummy lunch of homemade bread, Haitian peanut butter and nutella.  So Good!!!

After lunch we hit the road, heading for Wahoo Bay Beach resort.  On the way we drove through the salt flats.  The area to the south of Anse Rouge is some of the most productive ground for rock salt.  When we flew into Haiti, we could see it from the airplane.

The process to harvest the rock salt is pretty cool but very time consuming.  They dig shallow pits with channels leading from the ocean.  A high tide, they funnel the ocean water into their pits and once filled, they close off the channel.  The water will then evaporate, leaving the rock salt.

Once the rock salt is harvested, they repeat the process until they have enough to sell.  They bag it up and store it in the central storage house.  It is then sold in the cities around Haiti.  Some of it might get exported as well.

Once we got passed the salt flats, the road turned a bit messy.  It had rained a few days before we arrived in Anse Rouge and Judy warned us the road would be nearly impassible in some areas.  Boy was she right!

As you can see from this truck, it was pretty bad when it was raining.  You cannot see it from this picture but only the front drivers tire was touching the ground.  The driver had ended up in a ditch.  We made it past the worst of the road and followed the coast all they way down to Gonaives.  Along the way we saw this pretty lighthouse overlooking the water.

As we came around the last bend in the road, we could see Gonaives up ahead.

As is tradition, we made a final stop at Chez France and snapped a family photo.

Our last stop before the beach was to Grandpa Schmid's grave.  Grandpa died in November of 1977 from his injuries after a car accident.  Grandma and Aunt Jo were in the car with him and were injured.  Grandpa came around a corner and was unaware of a large truck broken down and he ran into the back, crushing him with the steering wheel and pinning him with the roof.  Grandma only had scrapes and bruises.  Aunt Jo had been in the back seat and was thrown around (no seatbelts in those days).  Just up the road from the accident scene was (still is) a small hospital run by missionaries.  They came out and took Grandma into their hospital.  They loaded Aunt Jo and Grandpa into a VW van and sped down the road to the hospital in Port-au-Prince.  Because of his injuries, he died on the way.  A friend of the family notified the missionary family and one of the missionary men came out to tell Dad and Mom.  Mom had just lost her father in March of the same year.  They were expecting that the visit was because of Mom's brother Bob who had recently had a heart attack.

They dropped Karen and myself off a the home of missionary friends on the way to where Grandma was in Piere Pien.  Mom stayed with her and Dad went on to Port-au-Prince.  Dad was able to make arrangements to contact the Mission leaders in Pennsylvania.  He also made arrangements for the funeral in Port-Au-Prince.  It was held in the same church where Grandma and Grandpa had been married.  Because of Aunt Jo's injuries, she was unable to attend.  Mom and Grandma were still in Piere Pien.

A second service was planned for Saint Marc, where Grandma and Grandpa had served for most of their married life.  The only other funeral to be so large was that of a Catholic priest.  Grandpa and Grandma were well loved by the Saint Marc community.  A local business man donated the ground for the grave and several of the missionaries came out and built it before the funeral.  Haitian tradition is to walk with the casket from the church to the graveyard.  The crowd was so large that they were shoulder to shoulder across the road for miles.  What a testimony to the life and ministry of John Christian Schmid.

He who has the Son, has life.  1 John 5:12

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