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Notes from February 2008

February 18, 2008     On a trip to Bonneau & Anse-a-Foleur & difficulty getting back!
Just returned from a 3 day visit to Bonneau and Anse-a-Foleur.  I had 3 reasons for going: 1. to see the hurricane damage to the school at Chaineau (a chapel of Bonneau); 2. to see the progress on the new school construction at Dity (a chapel of Anse-a-Foleur); and 3.  to not be in PdPaix for Mardi Gras.   The celebration of Canaval (the 4-5 days before Ash Wednesday) and Mardi Gras (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) are big events here...bands marching in the street and music into the morning hours. 
Pere Renald piked me up on Monday morning,  and we were off to Bonneau.  After lunch, we made the 1 1/2 hour walk up the mountain to see what was left of the school after the Dec. 8 storm.  Technically, it was not a hurricane, because the hurricane season had ended Nov. 30. 

Hurricane damage of school building at Chaineau (a chapel of Bonneau)

Almost the entire roof had been blown off the 7 room building.  It was a sad sight.  Part of the roof of the church had been lost, but repaired--in a manner of speaking.  All the classes, K to 5, were being held in the church. 


Damage to school at Chaineau

In communicating with the sister parish for Bonneau, I was told that in 2002, they had raised $50,000 to build the school at Chaineau.  Now, the school was unable to be used.  We returned to Bonneau after sunset.  Fortunately, I had listened to the advice of one of the sisters, and I had taken a flashlight--which helped us descend.


The next morning, Pere Renald took me to Anse-a-Foleur to meet with Pere Chepa.  After a short discussion about parish problems, I started up the path to Dity with one of the young assistants.  That walk is one of my favorites in all the Diocese.  A two hour hike, mostly level, along the River St. Ann, with mountains and forests rising up from the river on both sides.  It is necessary to cross the river 11-12 times, depending on who is counting.

Dity view 1

Construction of school at Dity (a chapel of Anse-a-Foleur)

We arrived in Dity about 1:00.  Pere Chepa is constructing a 6-7 room school, with the assistance of Amor en Accion.  The block walls are almost finished, but the roof expense is going to very great.  I think there are 4 classes that are being held in the church. 

Dity- view 2

The Dity construction looked almost exactly like the Chaineau destruction!

We arrived back in Anse about 3:30.  Then Pere Chepa took me back to Bonneau to spend a quiet Mardi Gras Tuesday night with the sisters.

Wednesday morning, we celebrated Ash Wednesday together at the church of St. Joseph in Bonneau.  Then  we prepared to go to PdPaix.

The return trip was supposed to be simple, because there was no rain, no mud, no engine problems.  Both Pere Chepa and Pere Renald were driving their vehicles to PdPaix, but it was decided that I should ride inside a truck, so that meant riding with Pere Chepa.  He was transporting 3 speakers, a little generator, and several people for the upcoming pilgrimage to Chansolme. 

At Berger, the tide was fairly high, and Pere Chepa had to drive thru the surf.  After another 10 minutes, we reached an area called My-ee Gote (I think).  When Haitiens pronounce the name, it sounds like "My God!!"---with good reason. It is a large area about 30 ft across--part river water entering the ocean, and part ocean water entering the river.  Because the tide was incoming, the level of the water was about 4-5 feet deep.  Pere Chepa started across, but in the middle, the engine died.

Water started entering from the holes underneath the floorboard.  I was sitting in the front seat in the middle, Pere Chepa to my left, Jean Marks to my right.  Jean kept saying, in Kreyol, "lift up your feet, lift up your feet."  In the first place, there was no room to lift them under the dashboard.  In the second place, the water kept entering until it was above the seat--above my waist in a sitting position.  So lifting my feet would not have accomplished much.

And there we sat, for about 20 minutes, until Pere Chepa agreed to pay several young men to push us out.  I was told afterwards that the young men gather at this spot every high tide to take advantage of those who get stuck.  When we were finally on dry land, Pere Chepa asked me if I had gotten any pictures.  Sorry, no.

Somehow, the engine started, and we were off again.  We made one stop in LaPointe to pick up some other supplies for the pilgrimage.  Pere Chepa had taken off his shoes at Myee Gote, so he was driving and walking bare-footed.  As he got back into the truck after loading the supplies, he closed the door on his left foot and toes.  Nothing broken or bleeding, but much pain.  We decided that this was the first suffering for Lent 2008.

We arrived in PdP about noon, just as the Angelus bells were ringing at the Cathedral.