Sunday, September 20, 2009


As the saying goes, there’s no place like it. It’s full of familiar smells, familiar sights, familiar things. Being home after being in a place like Haiti is an odd experience. Things are the same as they were before you left, but they’re somehow different at the same time.

I’ve done all the smart things, taking the re-entry process slowly, as one friend put it because you ‘don’t want to get the bends.’ I’ve gotten up at my usual times, participated in my usual post-travel activities –unpacking and doing laundry, putting the suitcases back in the storage room, picking up the mail at the Post Office and going through it, trying to get back into your usual routine. Saturday evening went to church. Sunday morning walked around the lake and went for breakfast with a friend. All the usual thing. But Sunday afternoon, I took a nap – for four hours. Not a usual thing. Oddly enough, Haiti is on Minnesota time so I can’t even claim jet lag. But I’m tired.

I’m enjoying the good things about being home. Abundant hot water and water pressure in the shower. Abundant cold, fresh water to drink at my fingertips. Abundant media resources in my own language. Abundant food, the eating of which does not result in the need for Cipro. I haven’t used hand sanitizer in over 48 hours. I drove my car without once swerving to avoid a 4 foot diameter pothole or a pickup crammed with 15 people pulling out from the curb and into my lane with no notice. I have understood every word that anyone has spoken in my presence. I know what to do and where to go and how to get along. It is all familiar and comfortable.

And at the same time, it is uncomfortable. I was only able to eat half the food on my plate at breakfast. I was very aware of the waste. I am conscious of the amount of time my shower takes. I am aware of every light I have turned on, of every thing I throw away. I am not feeling guilty – but I am feeling grateful. I am grateful for my life and the privileges that go with it. I am grateful for the security which allows me to live in a building that is not surrounded by walls topped with razor wire. I am grateful for the flip of a switch which provides reliable electricity, reliable cooling, reliable heating. I am grateful for the abundance that is the physical part of my life. More importantly, I am grateful for the abundance of friends, family, loved ones that make my life what it is. I am grateful that the abundance of my life allows me to experience life in Haiti. And I am grateful to come home.

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