“Mama, mama, waa!” Friday morning crept in dark and early, just like any other morning, without a single hint of the events about to transpire nearby.
I sleepily roll over and open my eyes. Through the screened patio doors I can see the sky outside is just transition from black to gray. Sitting up, I reach over and turn my fan off; always conscious of conserving power.
Not too excited about getting up at this time I pull on my clothes and dig my glasses out of the bathroom drawer. Trying to insert contact lenses in my bleary eyes at this hour is simply too painful.
In the boys’ room I find Justin standing up in his crib chattering unintelligible to his big brother. As soon as he spots me he frantically waves his arms begging to be picked up. “Mamamama.”
“Mom, look at what I’m doing! This pirate called Blackbeard is just hanging from the sail!” Jayden, playing on the floor with his pirate ship begins to chatter now too.
“Mommy’s still waking up honey. How about you show me a little later?” He nods.
Picking Justin out of his crib I carry him to the playroom couch. Jayden follows close behind. Cuddling with the boys and their favourite blankets we wait for the sun to rise.
At 6:20 a.m. Jason joins us. More awake now, I get to work making breakfast and lunches. As I open the front door for him to leave I notice dirty smoke billowing upwards. Ugh. This constant burning trash has got to be the worst thing about living here. I sigh. Closing the door behind him I get to work helping Jayden get ready for school.
A little later my cell phone rings. It’s a friend and neighbour letting me know about the protests happening nearby. “People are protesting on Delmas 83 due to lack of progress on the road construction there.” She tells me. “When we pick up Jayden for school we will take a detour to completely avoid that area.”
I thank her for the information and then open my front door again. The smoke is still there and now I detect the acrid scent of burning rubber as well. Shots echo, mingling with the sounds of screaming and yelling. I close the door again and help Jayden finish packing his backpack. After going over his memory verses we pray. Today it’s particularly for protection and peace.
When I hear the honk at the gate signalling his ride is here I give him one extra hug.
“I love you sweetie.”
“I love you Mom.”
Reluctantly I let him go and then wave him off. Heading back inside I get online to see if I can find out any more details about the protest.
As the internet slowly loads a networking sight I ponder the situation. Although I know protesting is never the answer, I do sympathize with the plight of those living on Delmas 83. Two and a half years ago the government gave notice to everyone living on that road to move their walls back in order to widen and improve the road. There was no compensation for that expense. Those who didn’t comply simply had their security walls demolished. Almost 2 years later, heavy equipment was finally working on grating the road. City workers began to build sidewalks by hand. Several months ago the work simply stopped and nothing more was done. Now with the long period of drought we’ve been experiencing here in Port au Prince, driving on Delmas 83 is comparable to what I imagine driving through the Sahara Desert in a dust storm is like. The clouds of dust that are kicked up by the vehicles traveling up and down that road are simply incredible. The dust is so bad many walking that stretch have resorted to wearing dust masks. Never mind the houses on that street that have to deal with the daily coating of ever increasing layers of dust.
The website finally loads and I quickly make a brief scan of the information I find. To get the governments attention, those living in that area blocked the road with burning tires, branches and rubble. Any vehicles ignoring the barriers could expect a rock through their window. Police were on the scene shooting tear gas into the crowd.
As time ticks on the sounds diminish.
When it’s time for me to pick up the kids at school at 2:45 p.m. I no longer see any signs of smoke or hear any shots or screaming. Unsure of the route to take to avoid the area completely I decide to see if the main road has become passable once again.
A few turns later I’m inching up the steep incline just below Delmas 83. To the left of me I see blackened pavement and burned tire treads.
Turning the corner I can hardly believe my eyes.
‘Attention Hommes au travail,’ (attention men at work) reads a sign as heavy machinery grates and smooths the road once again.
Slowing down to watch them work I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement. I travel Delmas 83 on a daily basis and it will be so nice to have it finally paved and dust free!
What are the implications of this? The thought strikes me and my excitement sobers. I know the issue with the road is legitimate but what kind of message does it send to the people? If you want something done burn tires and throw rocks at vehicles?
Life can be crazy here sometimes. You just never know what you will wake up to.