Today we truly upheld the time-honored tradition of Sunday as the day of rest, enjoying the luxury of a slow morning until finally leaving at 10:00. The ‘16s headed to the boys’ division of the Maison Fortune orphanage; the ‘18s returned to the Azil feeding center. The ‘16s, including famed Olympian Elizabeth, enjoyed a fierce game of soccer and a slightly more comedic game of basketball with the boys at the orphanage.
We returned for a filling lunch of beans and rice before setting out to the waterfall at Bassim Zim, which had hitherto been shrouded in an air of fantastic mystery. It had proved a polarizing idea within our group; some delighted at the prospect of seeing Haiti in a semi-touristy view, while others balked at warnings of muddied water and trash.
When we finally reached the waterfall after a long and sweaty Jeep ride, we were met with an awful sight, in all senses of the word. Its sheer grandeur and magnitude stole our breath; at the same time, we were slightly disappointed to see the dull brown filth of the water and the cesspool of trash that spun upon itself constantly, propelled in a circular motion by the flow of the water.
But the waterfall itself was not the only attraction. From the base we hiked, accompanied by an ever-increasing gaggle of money-seeking local children, up to several caves, adorned with stalagmites and stalactites and various carvings from voodoo rituals. It evoked from many a Global Health Fellow comparisons to cave-diving in other exotic Caribbean locales. Strangely, we often forget that Haiti is a Caribbean island, as alike in geography to St. Thomas and St. Lucia as it is in society and economy to sub-Saharan Africa.
It was an interesting day, full of wonders both simple and grand, where we both deeply connected with locals (in speaking the common language of sport at the orphanage) and were forced to see would-be relationships dissolve (as our child guides left us quickly at the waterfall when they realized we wouldn’t pay them for their “tours”).
In a sense, the day itself was an honest portrait of Haiti – of the quiet and manifold moments of beauty, reflection, and disappointment that every traveler experiences here.
– Written by Elizabeth Lilly, GHF ’16
Highlights of the day:
Hunt: Playing with a baby at the Azil for an hour
Aneesh: Playing soccer and basketball with the kids at the orphanage
Stuart: Visiting the waterfall at Bassim Zim since it was better than I expected
Gabi: Seeing the colorful, organized rooms at the Azil and how much care they put into making that place special
Claire: Playing with all the kids at the Azil
Olivia: Playing with the kids at the Azil
Liz: Hanging out at the Azil
Bridget: Playing basketball at the orphanage
Elizabeth: Seeing the newborn puppies at the orphanage; remembering the beauty of Haiti when we visited the waterfall
Lawson: Playing peek-a-boo with the older kids at the Azil
Brian: Playing soccer and basketball at the orphanage
Wyatt: Playing soccer and basketball at the orphanage