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a454: RE: a447: More on latonnel (fwd)
From: "Harrison, J. Derek (English & Philosophy)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It was great to come back from my annual trip to Haiti and find several posts about Phillip and Latonnelle, since he finally got me up there, along with the required river-wading and 3-4 hours of climbing.
To update the last posts on Latonnelle: Phillip assigned John and me to rig up a gutter on the south side of his house. It's just a piece of corrugated tin used for roofing. John sliced it into three roughly equal widths, we bent those into somewhat of a gutter shape and attached them to the house with wire and nails. Not exactly a thing of beauty, but the several sections slant properly toward the new 50-gallon plastic drum and now it's just a matter of getting rain. I saw Phillip back at St. Joseph's Home two weeks later and was disappointed to learn that the gutter hasn't been challenged yet.
Of course it gets one thinking about how great it would be to have all the houses up there equipped with gutters however crude. I really can't imagine the exertion involved with carrying those water buckets up from the springs, which naturally are pretty far down in the valleys. No, let's not get into some discussion of cultural imperialism here - I just don't see the point of carrying water when it frequently runs off the roof and onto the yard.
As for the garden contest: Phillip and John and Toma and I went around the next day judging gardens on various criteria that P had set up in advance. Didn't make all that much progress with the judging (maybe only five gardens seen all day) because P was also attending to various medical needs as we went and the people were at least as interested in giving us food, or ji or in one case some home-made krema.
Phillip was also pretty excited about an old cannon they dug up on a slope above his place. Wants to mount it somehow and make a little monument of it, except that now the government wants in on the act, a good way to spoil it.
Like a lot of us, I've known Phillip for a long time and it was great to see him in action up there. My impression is that he does the doctoring rather reluctantly, wants to help and does help but worries a lot about mistakes, as anyone would in that situation. But there's no question that he's needed and loved by all those who start turning up not long after the first light. His greater interest, seems to me, is with improving agriculture in the area: thus the gardening contest and some serious instruction (along with exams) that he's providing regularly. John and I even helped some guys make a new terrace and heard lots of talk about the need to use elephant grass against erosion, etc. In the long run that's going to pay off and be his best testmonial.
So I'll join Bob Corbett in his recent request to help Phillip with a donation to People to People. It will absolutely be well used by Phillip, who is a refreshing change from the endless talk about politics that never improves a thing in Haiti. The cliched metaphor of being "on the ground" becomes quite literal up there.
From: Bob Corbett [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, January 21, 2002 6:15 PM
To: Haiti mailing list
Subject: a447: More on latonnel (fwd)
From: Jedidiah <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As I was saying last week...
( been away from internet cafes )
The day after the trek up the morne to latonnel
(I'll adopt a kreyol spelling of the way moun pronounce it)
we sat on the hill all day. The hill with the house where
Phillip and Tomas live, avek grann, Clotilde and assorted
children. Sometimes it is difficult to tell exactly how
many people live in a house in Hayti, you know?
Well, many folks come to lakay Dokte Phillip each day.
Down in lavil folks say that Phillip is a hermit.
Noo, not exactly. There are always people around in a back
country doctors office. Even if it is the packed earth in
front of the house.
Lessee, there was the goat that had her chest ripped open
by wild dogs. As the attack was two days before Phillip
was furious with the negligent owners of the unfortunate
Cabrit. She died, after spending cent dolla of materiels
on the operation. The Dokte said it was mostly for practice
Numerous Cheval and Mules had vacinations. Then there are
the old folks that make their way up the hill with untreatable
old folks complaints. The 85 year old man who complains that
he cannot see very well. Oops. Not much that Dokte Phillip
can do about that.
The nursing woman, about 30 years old, complaining of weakness.
She has a heart murmur. Bad valve. Wont see another year.
Real country doctor/veterinarian work goes on all day, every
The hospital in Leogane is St Croix, with a good reputation.
Folks on la morne don't like to go there tho. They say that it
is too expensive and go into PauP to general hospital.
I can't figure this, as St Croix says they have a pov ward.
On Tuesday we climbed up to Fort Campon at the top of the
morne. We being Tomas, Clotilde, Lucianne and myself.
The Dokte didn't want to go. An hour or so of climbing
brings us to the fort. No maps that I have seen show the
existance of this fort, and the only government presence that
this back country ever sees is the registrar of titles for
animal sales who shows up at the weekly market. He has a nice
chrome whistle and a pad of paper.
A book which I discovered at La Presse Evangelique (The Haitian
People, Mr Leburn; original printing 1941) does mention that
this fort is one of the ones ordered to be built by Dessalines
for the planned retreat of the population up country, along
with the destruction of all of the cities. Dessaline was
removed, with prejudice, before the coasts could be evacuated
but the forts were built.
Fo Conmpon hasn't seen maintenance in almost 200 years but is
still remarkably intact. The cannons remain, waiting to be
A blacksmith plys his trade with a charcoal forge behind the
cemetary, many cows are tied up on the outskirts of the market,
waiting for new owners to take them home.
One can see across the way to Kenscoff from up here. If the
clouds cleared up one would see Jacmel. The ocean at Jacmel
A few hours exploring the market at Fo Conmpon are enough and
we descend thru the clouds back to the peace of latonnel.
Wednesday is the day for the regular weekly meeting of the
gwoupman peyisan at lakay Dokte. They are studying the
essential minerals required in the soil. Oral examinations
are given by Tomas or Phillip, with prizes for successful
completion of the course.
About 35 folks are in attendance this day, out of 65 total
members. A big wedding across the morne has distracted many
As the visiting blan I addressed the gwoupman, comparing
their work to my experience as a sindikat travay member and
officer. Certainly their attendance is better. No television.
One kul projekt is a garden judging contest. That is happening
the week after my visit, unfortunately. There were to be prizes
for the biggest pumpkin, but the pumpkins haven't grown this
year for some unknown reason. A nice new Stanly@ pickaxe hangs
above the door of lakay for the winner of a particularly
Building new Bourik saddles is a project in progress when
I am visiting. The traditional saddles rub the bourik raw
between the shoulders. Withers? Something like that.
The Dokte is tired of treating abused Bourik and is building
new baggage saddles with a round opening in the front so
that these hard working bet can be more comfortable.
A nice new brace, a hand drill, was purchased at the hardware
store in PauP for this project.
This is a rainy week on lamorn, unusual for December, but
of course. The nights are cool at altitude. I was even cold for
the first time ever on my visits to Hayti.
Much rain falls, but the next day folks have to walk to the
source, the spring, for water. This is quite a hike, carrying
4 gallons of water back on the head.
No one has rain gutters on their houses to fill the basin.
Why this has not occurred to anyone is a mystery that we
contemplate sitting in the darkness, looking at the unnamed
constellations, so close in the mountain night.
The week following my visit lakay Dokte aqcuires a nice rain
gutter courtesy of a St Louis visitor, an old friend and
frequent visitor of Phillip. I hope the basin fills nicely.
Finally time comes to descend lamorn. The trip down is, of
course, less strenuous than going up. The ground, however,
is slippery from the recent rains. A walking stick makes
the marche easier. I could have used one going up.
Back in laville I deposit 500 U$D in Dokte Phillip's account
at St Josephs Home for Boys to buy horses. And whatever..
They have 11 Bourik et selmen un Cheval. They need some more
horses for breeding. Also to make my next visit easier.
I did not make it over to Gwo So, where Brother Corbett played
his recorder to the sound of the waterfall. Next visit maybe.
J. David Lyall,
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