As I walked into the hotel restaurant area with my XO, a ten year old American girl spied it, clearly curious.  I asked her if she’d like to see it and she nodded enthusiastically.  Turns out her dad, also at the table, runs a secondary school in Croix-des-bouquets.  We talked about Haiti and schools and laptops for the good part of an hour until Beth showed up for two hours of laptop prep.

After the requisite hour delay for traffic, Alex arrived with Evens and Jean-jean.  Immediately stuck in traffic again, we picked up Elizabeth and made our way up the mountain to John Engle’s house to meet the Wozo Youth Choir.  The trainers were in good spirits during the drive, though I could rarely understand what everyone was saying.  I’m amazed at how good Beth’s Creole is now.  She’s quite good at languages.

With others driving this trip, I’ve had quite a bit of time to stare out the window and take in the streets.  While everything’s noticeably cleaner since November, there’s still a depth to the dust and grime and garbage that’s hard to put into words.  With roads that are more pothole than surface, with sidewalks used as impromptu shops for furniture, clothing, and toiletries, with trash and sewage  (you can tell from the smell) down the middle of the road, it’s pretty much a mess throughout.

Driving up the mountain, it gets better and better, though Petionville itself is not quite the oasis that everyone describes, particularly in the market area.  Yesterday we drove through an organized protest, likely about the election, or Preval.  The crowd was pretty calm, playing music with big horns and shouting something I didn’t understand.

At John’s house, we were greeted with music by the choir.  After the laptop handout, the fifteen recipients were surrounded by 25 younger children who hope to get laptops too.

After the laptop class, Alex rehearsed the choir for a few hours, which was a delight.  Forty children singing with undeniable enthusiasm, led by animated Alex, who clearly has a gift for working with choral groups.  I played them “On Children”, a song my wife’s choir has performed, while Alex translated the lyrics.  Jean-jean and Evens led them in other songs, showing just how animated these men can be as well.  Elizabeth and Beth clearly had a blast as well.

As it started to get dark, we headed down the mountain, driving again through the maze of inner Delmas to find Elizabeth’s guest house.  We agreed that in the future we would all stay together.  As I returned to my hotel, there was a large crowd of Americans shouting in the restaurant area.  The Super Bowl had started.  Watching the game in Port-au-Prince seemed bizarrely unbizarre.  I could have easily been in New Jersey with this crowd.

After dinner, I prepped the rest of the twenty laptops we needed for the Acacia handout the next day.  Twelve screws off, a few commands through the serial cable, twelve screws on, reflash and prep.  It was eleven before I finally went to bed.  We’ve still got 40 more to do!

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