Posted by: Talie Morrison | May 24, 2012

Where in the World is Talie?? Crested Butte? Haiti? Road Trip?

(I am going to put all my photos at the end of the blog this time – I think it will be easier for me and all of you who just want to see the photos! 🙂 

By staying in Crested Butte this winter, I guess I have been lax in blogging.   Now I am getting messages from friends around the world asking me, “Where are you?”

So, up till the middle of April, I was a pretty “normal person”.   I stayed in Crested Butte this winter (was it my fault then that we had the least amount of snow EVER?).   Oh, well…. Even with that said, it really was a great ski year – and how could that be you might ask?   Well the “science of ski area management” has come a long way from the 70’s!   Even with very marginal natural snow, the snow making in Crested Butte was great – and top that with awesome grooming, it really was pretty decent.   They didn’t get the extreme limits (out of bounds – with no man made snow or grooming) open till February, and I have to admit that the North Face and Glades were not terrific, but they were ok for a couple of weeks.

Then the middle of April, I joined 8 other Crested Buttians and headed to Haiti.   Whew – I knew that was going to be an “eye-opener” and it was – along with being quite heart-rending!   We were hosted by an organization called Beyond Boarders.   Beyond Boarders is working “on the ground” with Haitians to help rebuild Haiti, and help the towns and neighborhoods deal with some of the social issues they are faced with.     The first night we spent in Port au Prince – which was where the earthquake of January 2010 did major damage!    Because it is such a poor country, much of the damage still hasn’t been repaired – there is still rubble, and still people living in tents, still roads that are torn up, and even abandoned cars along side the city streets.

It is a very sad situation!   The presidential palace still sits with the roof leaning on the ground.   Having seen how fast New Zealand was able to at least clear up the damage from their earthquake – it was such a different scene.

From Port au Prince, we drove in a van south to Jacmel.  What would have been about an hour’s drive, took us more like 3 hours because of traffic and lack of good roads.   In Jacmel, we met with some of the Haitians who are working with the problems of poverty, violence against women, education and child slavery.  I know  that these problems exist in the 21st century but it is just so hard to see that children are not able to go to school along with the extreme poverty.   The philosophy of Beyond Borders is “experiential learning and serving. By “being” with people in their day-to-day life, we learn more than we would by marching in and doing stuff. It is crucial to be non-judgmental and flexible.”   It was really helpful to always have interpreters with us – so we could talk to the Haitians (they speak Creole), ask questions, and hear about their lives.   It was very meaningful!

From Jacmel, we went to the remote village of  Mano.   To get to Mano, it is an hour’s walk from the end of the road (and, of course, uphill!).   It was amazing to realize that all the supplies in Mano (including building supplies, cement, food, clean water, etc.) all have to be carried in on someone’s back or on the back of a donkey.   And these industrious people have built a school for 280 children up there!   Now that is commitment!   We spent 2 nights in Mano – my hosts were Mimi and Son Jaques.   Son Jaques showed us his land where he is growing corn, beans, squash, and peanuts.   The land is VERY rocky – and where they can they have made piles of rocks and where they can’t they have just planted among the rocks.   It is such a scary thought to see such subsistence living and knowing that a bad season could wipe out all their food.   I pray that Mother Nature is good to them!   In all of Mano, since it is so remote, there is no electricity, no running water, no roads, no basic services.   Now you know me, I love to camp out and it is not a big deal to use an outhouse or sleep on the ground – but the difference is I get to “go home”.   This is their life 365 days of the year!   They have a long walk to get to the stream to get water (Beyond Boarders used some donkeys to bring up clean water for us gringos) and all of the meals that Mimi cooks, she cooks on a wood fire.   Each of the families has a little cooking shed where they cook and keep their food supplies.   With 3 large rocks, the pots are balanced above a small wood fire – and Mimi made some delicious meals for us.   Being in Haiti, we needed to be extra cautious about what we ate – no raw foods, no foods that weren’t pealed or cooked.   But even being careful, I did come down with a bit of stomach stuff (which got to me after I was back in the States)!    Mimi and Son Jaques’ grown sons came by the first night and hooked up a generator and a music box so that we could have some Haitian music and dancing.   It was a beautiful thing!   The real beauty of staying there, again, was having interpreters so we could converse with each other.   Some of their questions to us were:  “Do you have roads that go right to your houses?” and “Do you have a water source near your town?”   Heartbreaking!

From Mano, we drove back into Jacmel, and then on to Port au Prince for our last two nights.   There we met with some ladies who had spent their childhood as restavek children (the children of child slavery)- hearing their stories was amazingly poignant.    They are working very hard with Beyond Boarders to educate not only the parents of children but the members of communities to be sure that this practice stops.   So often in Haiti, I was brought to tears realizing the uphill battle that these people are dealing with.   Their government is still not a stable force – how would you feel if no one ever picked up your garbage?  If you “eat once a day” you are considered “rich”.   Medical services are few and far between – and basic necessities aren’t even available.   My heart goes out to these beautiful brothers and sisters on this planet.

From Haiti – we flew back to the States and then back to Crested Butte.   Even that was culture shock.

And, of course, as is my “MO”, I had to “hit the ground running”.   I had just 3 days to be packed and ready to go on a 6 week road trip.   Luckily I had done some preparation ahead of time, and I was close to ready to go.

I drove from Crested Butte to Ohio where I spent some time at Kenyon College with my friends Jane and Robin, then headed to Cincinnati for Mara and Madison’s wedding.   It was an absolutely gorgeous wedding!     I “went shopping” in my friends’ closets in Crested Butte before I left – so I thank Gwen and Marilyn for lending me fancy clothes to wear.   At least I didn’t have to wear my long johns and jeans to the Rehearsal Dinner, Church Wedding, Reception and Sunday Brunch.    At least I didn’t look quite like a country bumpkin… 🙂  And I have forgotten that it really is fun to “dress up” occasionally!   🙂 Believe it or not, I even got a pedicure and manicure!  🙂

From Ohio, I headed South to North Carolina.   I did a trip down “memory lane” when I visited Spruce Pine and the Spruce Pine Montessori School.   I spent time in Boone with Bev and Will, and my nephew, Trey, and his family.   And after a beautiful drive through Virginia along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I ended up back in Winston-Salem, NC, visiting my old and dear friends, Tamara and Ron.   From here I’ll head to North Georgia, North West Florida, and then Melbourne and then Daytona.   Then I start the long drive back to Crested Butte.   I have really enjoyed all the trees and green grass along the roads back here.   I guess I have forgotten how GREEN the Eastern parts of the US are.   And then again, the springtime is a perfect time to be here!

Photos:

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Responses

  1. This post was so interesting to read. What an experience to have. The people are very beautiful. They work so hard to keep their lives together and yet seem calm and peaceful. We are so spoiled here in the U.S. and still people complain about their circumstances. Thanks so much for your stories and photos. Let’s take a hike or two this summer. Cheers, Roxie

  2. Great pictures Talie – so glad you were able to meet the people in Haiti. I know you touched their lives as much as they touched yours. Welcome home to CO in a couple weeks – glad your road trip has been so fun

    Love,
    Melanie


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