After a feast of a meal (the slice and a half of custardy rum cake I had at the end put me particularly over the top), a bunch of us felt the need for a stroll. Besides which we hadn’t seen any of Cange. It was night when we arrived and we had only taken the time to unload our luggage before we went down to dinner.
At the top of one of the staircases there were three kids with a guitar hanging out under a streetlight. (since Cange is so safe and so well lit, there are always kids hanging out under the streetlights. Often times they are up to all hours reading or doing their homework. And then a different shift comes in before dawn to read and do their homework). These kids looked like they were in their early/mid teens. The tallest of the group (who didn’t look like the oldest—-just the one who had gotten his growth spurt first) remembered Win and Regine from their other two trips. “Play me that song that you played—-the one with the guitar part……” and he played the riff from La Bamba. Win and Regine had played La Bamba at an impromptu concert a couple of years ago—-unprepared, it was one of the cover songs they could fake off the cuff. And people had flipped out. Imagine if you had never heard La Bamba before—-it’s a pretty good song.
The kids all spoke a little English and good French (and of course Creole, which none of us did). “Why don’t you guys play us a song instead?” we proposed.
"I don’t know. Do you want something in French or in Creole?"
They conferred for a minute in Creole. “Ok.” And they played us a song. It sounded like a folk song, since it was three dudes and an acoustic guitar singing in a language I didn’t understand. But I guess it could have been a modern R & B track from Haitian radio. Then we made them play us a French song—-they picked a slow, romanticky one—-like a French “O solo mio”.
And then they made us play. So we sang La Bamba, and Richie sang Runaround Sue with the rest of us on backing vocals (Hey! Hey! Womba didda didda Hey! Hey!). The Haitian kids joined in on the heys towards the end of the song. Those ’50s songs are pretty easy to figure out.
And then we continued our walk. Regine split off towards the guest house, and me and Win and Richie and Tim kept heading up. Win said there was a nice look-out platform at the top of the hill above Cange. So we kept climbing those stairs. At a certain point the streetlights ended, and everyone pulled out their iPhone to light the path.
I mean, it was night, so we couldn’t exactly see much from the lookout. Cange and it’s network of paths glowed down below us (and not like far down below us—-just 50 yards or something. It wasn’t like a big hike). We all sat down—-either on the ground, or there was a nice ledge around the space.
There were fires burning on all the hills around us in the distance. Farmers clearing their fields to plant. It reinforced this sense of Cange as an oasis—-ringed by fire, and here in the center, a gentle breeze rustling through trees that had been allowed to grow.
We talked about Haiti, naturally. We talked about the wild contrast between Port-au-Prince and the rest of the sites we had seen. We talked about the……utility of our trip to Haiti. Because we were definitely disrupting operations a little bit, and the cooks had certainly been working overtime. But maybe I’ll get into that utility question in a future post.
We talked about future plans for Haiti, and the ways they might work or not work. We talked about what we might do in the next 40 years—-because when I’m almost 70, there’s a pretty good chance Haiti will still need help.
And then after a while we went down to bed. And complained to each other about how it was too hot to sleep.
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