First of all, I dedicate this post to my bloggy friend Susie, who is awesome by name association but even more so by her kind and generous heart, witty comebacks and insane sense of humour. She’s dealing with a spinal injury right now, and I want to show her some love.
In 1996 during Spring Break of twelfth grade I went with several other students and a few teachers down to Haiti for two weeks. We went down there with a zeal for humanity, a hunger for adventure and came back with a bacterial infection and a couple of parasites.
We stayed in an abandoned elementary school: the girls in a row of bunk beds in one room and the boys in another. We burned through dozens and dozens of citronella candles with the illusion that the mosquitoes would leave us be, which maybe some of them did, but not without the accompanying fog of chemicals pooling out from the candles and filling our chests. On top of that, we enjoyed visits from cockroaches the size of Shaquille O’Neal and when squished, their intestinal spray resembled carnage found on the side of a mountain road in buffalo country.
I slept on the top bunk.
One loathsome evening in the middle of the night, while everyone else was asleep, while the humidity mixed with dirt and sweat stuck to my skin, a cockroach landed in the very middle of my back in the most vulnerable of places. A place where I could not reach from over my shoulder or up from my waist. It didn’t move. It lay there, motionless, as if it knew that its presence was all it took to drive me absolutely insane.
It was right. I went crazy. I couldn’t reach the dirty motherfucker, and no matter how vigorously I shook my body, it didn’t move. If I rolled over, I’d squish it between my back and my sleeping bag.
The missions trip was supposed to bring us all closer to Jesus and I swear that night it nearly did.
Eventually I put my earbuds in, turned up Tom Petty’s Wildflowers in my Sony Walkman and pretended I was on a boat out at sea.
Sometimes life hands you a big dirty motherfucker that you can’t reach to kill and even if you could, it would just leave a big ass mess anyway. Just turn your music up and start paddling.
This is the red caged truck we would ride around in while we were there. We sat in the cage, on the metal edge.
Only one person in this photo brought home a bacterial infection in the form of eternal diarrhea. Guess who. Actually, if that’s Jason in the bottom left hand corner, make that two people.
This is a view of the city while we drove along the roads:
And one more of us standing with a group of UN soldiers:
I just noticed Jason making a sideways face at the soldier. Niiiiiice.
Has anyone been to Haiti?
Do you guys have any cockroach stories? Literally or figuratively?