Happy Easter! We had a good Easter weekend here in Gressier. My friend from Seguin, Margarethe Jean Phillippe, her three children (Davidson, Joseph, and Marie Phara), and her sister Bethany all came to visit us on Good Friday. Margarethe, as always, brought way too much food! She has so many mouths that depend on her to be fed, and yet she always brings us a ton of food when she comes. She made us some fish, which is a traditional Easter meal here in Haiti. I have to admit, I wasn't excited about it at first, since the smell of the raw fish and fish juice was overwhelming. But after everything was said and done and FRIED, it was awesome. We all ate our fill and had plenty to spare. Titus really liked the fish and veggies, too. Nora, of course, didn't try any of it. She had mac 'n cheese.
Margarethe and I were able to catch up on all that has been happening since I left the mountain. It was good to have her here and spend time together again. My children were a little shy around her kids, but they all ended up playing together (or near each other) in the end. On Saturday, I hid a bunch of eggs and taught the kids about a silly Easter tradition that we Americans do. They had fun running around, finding eggs.
Margarethe told me a few stories of her life, past and present. She told me about how she has eight brothers and sisters, but there used to be nine. She lost her baby brother when he was three years old because of diarrhea. One day he was there, the next he was in the hospital, and the next day he was gone, she said. She also told me about how Ecclesiaste, her husband, is from a family of twelve siblings, but only six of them are still alive. You'd think that these would be things I would know about Margarethe and her husband, since we've been friends for ten years. But I guess, in Haiti, it doesn't come up much. You wouldn't know that she and her husband come from such tragic backgrounds. Ecclesiaste has a laugh that fills up a room (anyone who knows him knows this is an understatement!) Nothing in his demeanor or speech would clue you in to the fact that he's lost half his siblings. I've found that many Haitians are like Margarethe and Ecclesiaste. Tragedy and hardship in the past stays in the past, and doesn't have much bearing on the present. I'm not sure how they do it, but I wish I could emulate it.
Margarethe also told me about how life is for her family presently. She and Ecclesiaste live in Seguin and both have employment. Two of her brothers work, and her father is a farmer and
raises animals. The rest of her family lives in Jacmel and is either unemployed or in school. Her mother, her four sisters, her three children, their four cousins, and one orphan child all live in a two room house together. They all sleep in the same room. Margarethe didn't seem to think this was unusual. She talked about how the children don't fall to sleep before 10 at night. She thought they were night owls. But when they were at my house, they fell sound asleep by 8pm. The yard where they could play had something to do with that, but I also think it was a soft mattress and a room that wasn't full of ten other snoring, kicking, sweating bodies. I gave them a double mattress and two single mattresses for the five of them to sleep, but all three kids piled onto one of the mattresses and fell fast asleep. Force of habit, I guess!