(from Sunday the 4th)

Nail polish. Definitely the best thing to bring on this trip.

After getting up early to paint the finger and toenails of John Engle’s daughter, Layla, it looks like we have successfully painted the nails of nearly all the women of the Engle household. Next to our laptop program, I think painting the toenails of as many women is possible is another goal of my time here. I wish I could say this is a joke because it seems very shallow. But when you see the look on the faces of the little girls who suddenly see themselves as so very beautiful with their new colorful toes, you would understand my mission.

Yesterday was quite the day, not to mention my birthday! The night before we had said goodbye to all the mentors- or see you later, as Bill and I would continue our journey to visit each mentor at home and help them develop our program. In the morning, Bill, Tim, Robert, Benaja, Etienne and I all sat around for some good old spaghetti for breakfast- something I’m starting to get used to. At breakfast, Tim gave us the news that he would be heading home early so that he could spend Easter with his family. After we arrived in Port-au-Prince, he would stay at the airport for an afternoon flight back home.

Bill and I were a little surprised but we weren’t worried. The program has been developing extremely well and I feel comfortable with our mentors. I know that, with the teaching materials nearly finished and the mentors very confident in their work, things are going to be able to run quite smoothly.

After saying our goodbyes to everyone at Matènwa, we got back on the big white pickup truck that we had originally taken up here (minus the ten mentors sitting in the back this time) and drove over what I hesitate to call terrain. More like an obstacle course, if anything. Joseph, one of the Darbonne teachers, headed back with us so that we could all fly out together. Before leaving, he looked at one of the wheels- really torn up from all of the intense driving- and we had a laugh together. It ended up that about an hour later, that tire pulled a flat and we had to change it on the side of the road in some pretty hot sun. The good news is, now I know how to change a tire, which is something I wasn’t very proud of not knowing originally.

Benaja, Joseph, Tim, Bill and I all got in the plane and, luckily, didn’t have to sacrifice any of our items to lessen the plane’s weight. After a great flight over the ocean (one of the best birthday presents a girl could ask for) we made it to Port-au-Prince and said goodbye to Tim. We know he’ll be really happy to wake up the next morning with his family. Bill and I are also secretly pretty happy for Tim to have regular access to the internet so that we can get our health insurance squared away. We’re heading to Darbonne soon and I’d be much more comfortable going there with insurance!

When we got to Port-au-Prince, the number one priority was heading to a bakery for some birthday goodies. We also managed to find ice cream- a real shocker after living in Matènwa where there is no refrigeration! The second priority was getting the laptops- which didn’t work out because this weekend is Easter so we’re going to have to wait until Monday before we can pick them up. This is good though, as Bill and I have lots of catching up to do (and blogging) and would really like to rest for a minute before we start up reflashing 200 computers!

Last night Antoine, one of the mentors from Petite Riviere, called me on Benaja’s cell phone. “Happy Birthday!” he exclaimed. Even though the mentors left on the day before my birthday, it seems no one had forgotten about my special event.
That night, our ice cream and pastries were the best I’d ever had.

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