Friday, September 16, 2016

Goat Stew In Ranquitte, Haiti (1986)

Haiti is surely a mysterious land, presently with nearly ten-million inhabitants.  I visited Haiti on a fourteen-day journey, to Port du Prince (population, 450,000), Cap-Haitian (100,000 inhabitants), and Ranquitte a mountainous region, of a little over 18,000-residents, where I spent most of my time help building a medical clinic. I also took time out to visit the populace within the wooded areas, —doing some Evangelism, and a visit to the Great Citadel, built to defy Napoleon’s navy, back around 1806.
       During my visit I made it to the ‘Iron Market,’ built by Mr Eiffel, himself, who built the ‘Eiffel Tower,’ in Paris; the Iron Market being similar to the Turkish Bazaar, or Moroccan Kasbah.   
       Although Haiti may be considered the poorest country in the Western Hampshire, the people are very warm-hearted.  They live a simple life, and so this story is simple, it is simply about goat stew!
. . .

I stood still in the hot forenoon, my face turned away from the sun. A woman was cooking goat stew in my long shadow, it was for all of us nineteen-workers whom came from Minnesota to build a medical clinic for the township of Ranquitte, high up in the hill country of Haiti. The Baptist Minister’s house, where I stayed at night, I slept on a rubber mattress on the floor, was silent, he had gone to buy materials at Cap-Haitian. I’m standing under the edge of the extended roof, bought a cold coke from the Mayor of the township, he and an old Congress man, that was booted out of Congress by Papa Doc, the dictator, of Haiti, he too sold cokes, own a large house in the village, he was afraid to leave lest one of Papa Doc’s Voodoo priests see him, and make him into goat stew.
       My friends and I are just finishing the basic frame of the medical clinic, pouring cement into a framed square for the floor. I’m a bit overheated, resting; it is the summer of 1986, and a hot summer at that, I feel like a strange sea creature wanting to draw back into its shell. But the spirit inside of me is moving, it says that Goat Stew looks good, and you got to finish the lower structure of the clinic! I’m thinking about a shower too, and that means I got to go down to the river, carry back five gallons of water and put it in the upper tank, pull on a rope, and let it sprinkle on me.
       Most of us who came, the nineteen of us that is, we brought our own can goods, soap, and whatever is needed. So this will is quite different for most of us, although I’ve lived the life of a soldier, they haven’t. Everyone but myself and our guide, an American, has gotten sick, too long in the heat, and eating off the Haitian economy, bad food.
       But now it’s time to eat, and to tell you the truth, that goat stew is like eating a T-bone Steak, especially after eating out of can goods for ten-days.

#3379 (7-18-2012) Reedited 9-2016
Note: Recalled from notes and photographs from 1986,