So the other day, on our way back to the base from an orphanage, I was really thirsty and wanting to buy a cold water. I told our driver, Alberto, that I would like to buy some water. It took a while to actually find someone. In Haiti, this is a pretty easy task. That day, I thought so myself, “Man, Port au Prince is so convenient!” Ha, this makes me laugh at the irony of it, but it’s partly true. Almost any simple task you need to do, you can accomplish on the street. Do you need a meal? You can choose between something as simple as a pate (fried dough with an assortment of fillings) or rice and bean sauce and chicken, or rice and beans mixed with chicken sauce, beef sauce, goat sauce, fish sauce. There’s even barbeque chicken in some places. Or how about a cold drink? Coke, Sprite, grape soda, orange soda, Toro (Haiti’s version of Red Bull), Tampico, 8 oz bags of water, and an assortment of others. You can buy fruit and vegetables, soap, toothbrushes, shoes, clothes, jewelry, bread, fans, the list goes on and on. You can even exchange money at almost any busy intersection and get a good exchange rate. Did you just use your last minutes on your cell phone? Don’t worry, a guy will probably come to you at the next light, or while you’re stuck in traffic for hours.
However, some things are not so convenient. Like the way any small errand can turn into an all-day event. Or how to buy in bulk you have to go to the crazy-busy market and haggle for the right prices at several different stands. How often do you, when you’re in a hurry to get to the bathroom, have to pause and make sure there’s water in the flushing bucket? And if there’s not, your bowels might have to wait another few minutes so you can rush down to the green pool and fetch a bucket of water, or you might just have to ask the next poor soul that walks in to fetch it for you. How many times have you hyped yourself up for yet another cold shower, only to discover, there’s no water in the tank on the roof, and bonus! No electricity to pump the water from the cistern to the roof. Sometimes, you just need to talk to your mom, or your best friend, but the internet is out yet again. But praise the Lord when it comes on and works long enough to get in that much needed “momma talk.”
Santo Domingo is different. You can’t exchange money on the street, but you can buy some fruits and vegetables on the street. You can buy some drinks and snacks while you’re out and about as well, but they’re a little more difficult to find. The roads are better, but sometimes traffic is worse. There are lots of little shops to buy basic necessities, and a ton of them deliver. Today as we drove home from church, I saw a KFC’s that had delivery motorcycles outside. You can just call up the store and have them deliver 3 pounds of laundry soap, or a malta or two. You can ring Pico Pollo and have fried chicken and fries dropped at your door. But we’re not allowed to go out without a SD staff member. The water is still cold, but there’s almost always electricity and water here.
All in all, convenience is sometimes in the eyes of the beholder. What’s your favorite convenience where you’re at?