Saturday, May 6, 2017

Volleyball National Tournament 2017. By Anna....Part 1

I'm back again! Less than a week after regionals our sleepy group headed off at four in the morning, last Friday. We took the cattle truck to Limbe, where we waited for the Sans Souci bus. Upon arrival we all piled in and napped our way to Port au Prince, arriving somewhere around 9 A.M. The reason for our unreasonable early departure was never discovered, since games didn't start until Saturday.

All 19 girls (eight minims and 11 cadettes) plus six chaperon/coaches (four of which were guys) shared one room with eight bunk beds. All the beds had sheets and pillows, a new addition since the previous year, along with curtains across the glass windows. The lockers were the same as last year, and there were also tumbling mats on the floor for those who didn't find a bunk. Several people shared bunks, so only about five ended up on the floor. 

We snacked, napped, and talked for most of the after-noon, watching as the other teams arrived. To my surprise, I was not the only American present; one of the other team's coaches was an American, whose daughter played. [When Anna talked to us about this-we clued her in that we know them, have visited their home when Anna was very little. The mom/coach had been an ECHO intern a few years after Cory.] The daughter fit in a bit better though, since she was only half foreigner. Late that afternoon we practiced a bit, goofing off and warming up with music, since the technicians were testing the sound speakers out for the next day. Super was spaghetti or rice if I recollect correctly... I got spaghetti, since I had rice for lunch. 

The majority of the meals consisted of either  spaghetti, rice, fine oatmeal ( a smooth thick substance eaten with a spoon and accompanied with bread).  Sandwiches were served for breakfast several times, with either peanut butter or a red sauce with some kind of canned fish in it. Vegetables and/or chicken legs were a side dish for a few meals; however they lacked proportion. They also lacked enough water, or plastic cups with which to get said water, when it was present. The occasional juice went quickly.

Note: Last year, the whole Fauche group had...stomach issues after arrival. Some talk at the sinks led to the discovery that the Fauche people were not the only ones suffering. Because of this, we were originally told to avoid the water. However, this only lasted until the first meal, and much to our delight the water tasted fine, and most escaped without consequences. Thank you for the prayers, I apparently didn't catch anything from the shared cups and bottles. (dehydration out-weighed the risk) 

There were six female Cadette teams. They were separated into two pools of three, from which one would be eliminated, and the four continue on to semi-finals and afterwards finals. Since there are only four minim groups, they play three matches against all the other teams, then the two stronger are put against two weaker, and the winners go onto finals. 

During our first match we won the first set, and then lost both the next one (a crushing 25-5) and the third. We were scheduled to play against the other team the same day; however a torrent of rain put a stop to all four games. Although we were playing inside, the water found a way in and flooded the one end of the courts. The whole area became slippery, and games ended for the night. 

Showers during volleyball exertions are always very interesting experiences for this shy/pale person. Thankfully, Fauche is one of the shyer regions, and they aren't surprised at bathing with undergarments in groups. (like some of the other girls) However, my biggest issues with that toilet/bath stall building, are the walls. They are made up of window blocks. They are slanted so that you cannot see anything by just walking by, but allow far to much light through for my taste. For this reason I always avoid the end shower/bathroom stalls, since they are against the breezy walls. 

That night we went to bed around ten, and were awaken at about 5:30 a.m., so that everyone could shower before the rush from other groups. Some remnants of the French have remained in Haitian culture, including performing your 'toilette' in the mornings. If they can they prefer to bathe. I, with my background, am always considered odd for not doing so, though they are slowly becoming accustomed to my peculiar ways. 

The best of the minim players, who had won their three matches the first previous day, were given sleepless shirts saying, "Haiti volleyball" they were in varying shades of pink and white. We were then lectured thoroughly, since if we lost to the other team, we would be eliminated. They had already lost to the first team, who were assured a place in the semifinals. 

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