2016 Exploration Pilgrimage – Day 2: Flamand

Woke up to the roosters crowing around 5am.  Sleep wasn’t great, as the chirping crickets and bugs were pretty loud. Amazing how you can sleep through the city noise, but I’ve forgotten how nature sounds.   Keith, Sue and I went for a walk at 6am, and met many friendly faces along the rocky road.  Keith and I tried jogging, but the rocks were a bit tough on my ankle and it wasn’t worth risking another sprain, so we just walked fast.

We had oatmeal for breakfast, with fresh papaya juice and granatia juice – both were delicious!  We also had fresh papaya, pineapple and mangos with toast and coffee.  Then we were off on our drive to Flamand.  Flamand is a coastal village about 40 minutes from Martineau.  The roads are very rough, so it’s very slow going to get there, so maybe only a 5 mile drive.  I tried to get a good picture of the roads, but you really need to experience it.  Father LeClerc greeted us when we arrived and so did many of the curious children and adults.  The view was beautiful of the ocean and the breeze felt very nice in the morning.   We spent several hours talking with Father about his needs and then we took a break to enjoy some fresh Coconut.  It was my first time to drink Coconut water and eat fresh coconut.  Both were delicious – so much better than what we eat in the states.  I actually don’t like coconut, so it was very surprising to me that I really enjoyed it.  The Coconut water was refreshing.  We then spent more time talking with Father and learning more about the area and then he gave us a tour.  I think the pictures will tell the story.  It is a very picturesque, yet humble area, with a few wells that were built to close to the ocean, so they only produce salty water.  They do have a cistern to catch rain water, but Haiti has been in a drought situation for quite some time.  They also have no electricity.  The people are fishermen, farmers and raise animals to sell to try and make enough money to take care of their families. They also have gardens to feed their families.   The one thing that stuck with me from this village was that there didn’t appear to be as much trash alongside the roads.  They seemed very proud of what they have, even though it is was very little.  There is no infrastructure in Haiti, so no trash pickup, no road building, very little electricity, unless they have generators.  The churches and missionaries provide the schools, the clinics, and the gathering places.  Flamand has a small school – K-6th and a very small clinic with just a nurse.  Father said the women are taken on motorcycle to Les Cayes to give birth – which I can’t even imagine what a horrible ride that would be!  Of course, if they can, they have them at home with a midwife and pray for no complications.  We finished up the day with a blessing and a prayer from Father.  It was an amazing experience on my birthday that I will not soon forget!
When we got back to Boileau, we were privileged to meet the teachers and assistance principal at the school, as well as some of the school children. Everyone was so friendly and tried very hard to speak English, while I struggled very hard to speak French!  For some reason, it came out spanish!   We invited Pere Ingrid to join us for my birthday dinner – another feast with a very delicious Rum cake that Alix had prepared for me!  We finished the evening with preparing for Day 3.  Looking forward to exploring Canon.

– MaryLynn Hilton

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