Haiti is a totally unpredictable place, and you never know what will happen in a day. We constantly have guests who freak out when plans change, or their driver arrives late, or the toilets won’t flush immediately due to water pressure. I get a bit too much pleasure telling them to calm down, this is Haiti, not America, and you have to just go with the flow. I secretly enjoy watching them be stretched and challenged – because it’s good for them.
Well it was recently brought to my attention that, even after being in Haiti almost two years, I myself had some stretching still to do. I guess I just started veering towards the way of thinking that at least my life should go as planned, and I could for the most part control it. And then our electricity went out.
A major transformer blew close to our neighborhood, and we had no idea how long it would take the electrical company to fix it. It could be one day. Or, from past experience, it could be three weeks. You never know. At the guesthouse we have back-up sources of power, so no worries there. However, at our house, our batteries last only about 10 hours.
The first night our batteries made it until about 5 a.m. so that was fantastic! The following night we used flashlights to get around the house. It was a tiny bit cooler due to rain (mid 80’s) inside the house, so we managed to sleep okay. By the third day, I was getting ornery. And hot. It’s that time of year in Haiti where it’s hot hot almost the entire day, and doesn’t really cool down at night. In my head I started kicking and screaming, wanting the power to come back on!!! This was so unfair, I thought. I didn’t sleep at all that night, and just tossed and turned, sweating like crazy.
And that’s when I started to understand what the Haitian people go through every day, and how strong they are. Many of them don’t have any source of power in their houses. Or if they do, it’s only when the city decides to give it to them – no back-up batteries. And for those that do get city-power, they likely don’t have fans to cool them down. Or even running water to take a shower to rinse the sweat off after a long hard day. Yet they continue on. Our workers show up every day and do their jobs without complaining. Are they probably tired – yes. Are they hot – yes. But what is complaining going to help?
All this was a good reminder that no one is exempt from the unpredictability of life, and we all need to stay flexible every day and expect the unexpected. We also need to get over the kicking and screaming when things don’t go our way, and just be thankful for what we do have. We can learn a lesson about strength and persistence from the Haitian people, and even though we’ll never understand what they go through on a daily basis, we can challenge ourselves to have a similar attitude the next time things don’t go as planned.