Tuesday night Abby and I had to sign up for whatever job we wanted to do on Wednesday, our last full work day in Haiti. I really wanted to go out with a bang and spend the whole day on a rubble site, but the idea of having sufficient time to empty out my home for the last two weeks was nice, I had to take care of a couple things for Haiti Scholarships, plus it was Adri’s birthday and we were determined to find her a cake so we could sing happy birthday that night. We opted to find something we could do for a half day, so we’d bust ass in the morning, and take the afternoon off to get everything else done (we had a mental checklist of everything we needed to do). Turns out the only thing we could do for a half day on Wednesday was housekeeping. Less than ideal.
All Hands is true communal living. So someone has to do these things. Someone has to wash dishes. And someone has to take out the trash. And someone has to scrub the toilets. On Wednesday, that was us. Housekeeping chores actually aren’t too bad, mostly because Abby tackled the toilets. The one thing we didn’t want to do was having to collect all the trash (including bathrooms….), carry it all the way through the field in the back of the base, and set it on fire. It’s just not good times.
But it’s a good story.
We collected all the trash, then carried it out to the back, where we saw what was supposed to be the easier way of carrying the trash cans to the end of the field: a pull cart attached to a bike. Basic, but word on the street was that it was a lifesaver when it came to handling the trash situation, and the fact that you have to carry it all the way to the end of the Joint Logistics Base. Ok. Easy enough, right? Load it up, peddle those happy feet…unload.
Weeeeeeeelllllllllll. The loading part worked out fine. Then Abby got on the bike and sat on the seat. Then the seat fell off. Then she jumped off. The seat had a tendency to flip back when you sat on it, exposing people of both sexes to injury in areas that are crucial if you ever want to have kids. With the seat no longer attached, you ran the danger of injuring yourself on the metal that was sticking out.
Abby graciously allowed me the opportunity to try my luck. I put the seat back on top, knowing there was no way in hell it was going to stay there. I jumped on the bike and tried to sit on it. That didn’t go well. I gave up hope on the seat but thought, hey, remember when you were little and you would ride your bike standing up? Well…that should work. And it did, for about two peddle rotations. At which point the pull cart became unattached to the bike, and I was no longer pulling a cart.
At this point, we’d already attracted a nice crowd of local warehouse workers who were thoroughly enjoying our adventure. Luckily, Abby and I took the higher ground and decided to laugh at our situation, rather than start crying. Ok. We arranged the trash cans on the pull cart so the weight would ensure that it remain attached to the bike (basic physics came into play on this one. Thank you Mr. Dempsey). Reattached pull cart to bike. I decided to give it another go with the stand up method.
Holy ridiculous. I almost wish I could have watched this scene with our spectators, as I’m sure I would have been on the ground laughing. I had some trouble steering the bike without sitting on the bike…which led me to weave back and forth…the whole time trying to remember not to sit on what was sure to rob me of a comfortable trip home the next day. I think these were some of the most frantic and confusing 10 seconds of my trip in Haiti. Pull cart fail.
Since we had condensed the trash to three trash cans, we decided we would each just carry one of the lighter ones to the back, then come back and carry the heavier one together. Which is fine…until you have men propositioning you for $5. Then things get uncomfortable. Mind you, there was absolutely nothing glamorous about us (no offense, Abby). We’d been sweating all morning from cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, and we were carrying trashcans full of a day’s waste of 80+ people. How is that attractive?
As difficult as it was to not reply energetically to kissy noise advances, we made it to the end of the base were we found the three wonderful incinerators where we had to dump our trash and set it on fire. Advice on best ways to start a fire of trash, from a very trustworthy base manager: shit tickets. Yep, toilet paper. Worked like a charm every time. The rest of this story I won’t really bore you with. We burned trash. We watched it. It burned some more. It was quite the experience.
And much more of an adventure than we had signed up for.
Thank you pull cart.