Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sunday Dinner at Manno's

On my first weekend here, Manno, the manager of the Midwives for Haiti house, “Lakay Nou”, invited all of us to lunch at his house. He was emphatic that he wanted a big crowd,“everyone should come.” Manno is one of MFH's oldest friends, translators, and employees. Nadene and Steve, founding Board members, are here for 2 months, and tell us that Manno's wife is a great cook, so dinner is not to be missed. So all the staff and visiting volunteers-- about 12 of us- piled into the Jeep and drove the mile up the dirt road to his house. We live on the same street, now-- it's great to be neighbors!

Manno has followed the Haitian tradition of building his house in phases; as he earns money, he builds some more. He started, like most Haitians, with a land purchase, then a tiny house made of wood, roofed with banana leaves if necessary, or tin if one can afford it. Then, cinder blocks are home-made, then stacked and mortared into solid walls. Eventually, it gets a finish, and paint, maybe even glass in the windows, but that takes a while. For most of the time, the breeze comes in the windows, keeping things cooler, and light polyester curtains block the bugs a little bit. That's it.

The Bastia's house is truly lovely. There is so much love and pride evident. The first thing I saw was the car port space underneath, housing and protecting his motorcycle. We gathered in the living room, and were all seated comfortably on plastic lawn chairs. The décor included strings of colorful synthetic flowers, and on one shelf, a row of cute little stuffed animals. Manno and Nathalie have 2 kids, Woodbrian, his 3-year old, was naked and wet from a recent bath when we arrived. He was whisked away by an older cousin who helps at their home, and reappeared all spiffed up in a totally cute and put-together outfit. Nathalie was holding Emmanuella, his 6-month old daughter, who started crying immediately-- I'm not sure, but I suspect a dozen “blancs” coming in the front door was a little unusual and disturbing for her!

Lunch was served buffet-style, and included chicken (many birds died for this party), beet salad, pasta salad, fried plaintains, and my favorite: “Picklese”, a spicy cabbage salad. We had Cokes and champagne to drink. With our gracious hosts, there was plenty for all, and leftovers. It was a really great meal! The dog hung around attentively, as food scraps are the only dog food in Haiti, and we tossed her all our chicken bones as we ate. Apparently, all Haitian dogs can survive eating chicken bones, in fact, they may live on them. Chicken bones are only harmful to American dogs. She ate them before they hit the floor. I think it was a happy day for her, as it was for all of us. The hard work starts on Monday, generally; Sunday is just great, especially when Nathalie does the cooking.


  1. I just LOVE Picklese! :)
    It seems that not only do the dogs survive the chicken bones, the kids do too! When I was there, they would wait for us to finish our meal, then look out! After some serous "tussling" over our scraps, beating the dogs to it, they too would actually suck the marrow then chew the bones to a pulp (which was promptly spat out into my hand...) Ive never looked at chicken bones the same!
    Thank you, Wendy for sharing your love and devotion to the sweet people of Haiti, and sharing it with us!