Thursday, January 15, 2015

Assembling of the benches at Trou du Nord. Eli

This is Eli. Today Grandpa and I went to Trou du Nord and built benches. To support the newly built church Grandpa spent the last few weeks cutting, screwing, and painting parts of 40 benches. All that work payed off as we finished the project today.

This phase of the project started yesterday when the truck came after dark. we fit the pieces of 40 benches in the back. Considering what Haitians can  fit on a tap tap [small pick-up trucks used to transport people and stuff] the process turned out surprising hard. Personally I think a little planning done by a Tetris  expert would have helped. This morning we got up at 6:00, ate breakfast and loaded up the truck with tools and ourselves. Grandpa and I rode in the cab with the driver, while Dad stood in the back perfecting his tan with several helpers and several hitch-hikers. 
The surprising roomy truck contained some unfortunate features. Sitting above the engine at the very front of the vehicle, a new experience for me, proved to me that the extra height makes being tilted scarier. The cab was different than what a U.S truck driver would expect. The well worn cab stood as positive evidence to Dad's theory that the truck has survived long enough to prove it is indestructible. The flooring is long gone, and not only can you see the base of the stick shift you can see through to the truck's engine and road beneath. The window crank's handles are gone having been replaced with bent rebar, however this is hardly noteworthy when compared to the other abnormalities; when shifting the shift lever hits the dashboard, or the place between seats, depending on what gear he was using. Also The driver had to slam the shift stick into position, usually twice to make it work. Last of all there was a red light on the dash the entire trip, at first we bounced too much for me to read the faint letters, but later I confirmed that it was for the brakes. 

I was not worried having ridden in the back of the same truck multiple times, convincing me of it's ability to continue running. Unfortunately two hours of Haitian roads are bad no matter who you are, and the seat contained too little padding. After sitting on a meat tenderizer two hours we finally arrived at the church. The promised help was no where to be seen, but the gate was unlocked so we drove in and started unloading the bench pieces directly into the church. We got the tools out and were pleased to find that the building had power (from the near by industrial park) allowing us to avoid starting the loud, stinky generator in a partially enclosed place. We would have put the generator near where the choir practiced later so I think they would have been thankful too. One reason to come to Haiti, when working you don't need a music player, you can have a choir sing for you!

We were very disorganized for the first ten or so benches, but we finally got a system going. Grandpa Yvon, and I started out slathering the feet in glue and then putting the seat and back on them. We got into a good rhythm before the rest of the crew who followed. Unfortunately when they started speeding up Grandpa and I became the bottle neck. After being rushed through three benches I convinced Grandpa to stop putting on  the backs. When we finally got a good rhythm going again Grandpa and I would start a bench, do our part, and then start another bench somewhere else, with the next group putting on the back and top of the back. After that Dad re-drilled the base holes, and last of all Gener screwed the base in. As we worked whenever a bench was finished two people without a job at that moment would carry it off to another part of the church for storage. Most of the holes had been predrilled, but the holes on the base board didn't work. The screw drivers were too long to fit, so Dad made new holes at an angle that Genear then filled. 

At the beginning of the day Grandpa had told Grandma we would done before twelve, we finished 40 benches (plus unloading) in under two and a half hours, managing to leave the church at eleven. After that we ate lunch at Paster Rigo's (white rice with pigeon pea sauce and chicken sauce). Then we spent another two hours driving home, after working hard and a full meal you feel tired, and the cab of that truck is a miserable place to feel tired; sore from siting, too tired to sit up, no head rest, and by the time we got back I no longer wanted to nap. I also managed to be librarian for an hour, and get a full day's school work done which considering I only spent some time yesterday and two hours today is great. (Thursday is the easiest school day for me.) In all a productive day.


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