Sometimes, when you're lucky, those days come. Those rare days where you can't help but smile for being a part of them, for the memory they've implanted, for the fact that you know you were there. Today was that day for me.
Rewind five hours. I've left the field hospital. Sad, because we had to break it down. They lost their funding, and as it goes, they had to go. The only free hospital in Leogane is no more. That is a loss. I'm glad I got to see it, even if I was no more than a manual laborer at the end - moving boxes of drugs and stretchers and wheelbarrows full of casts and gowns. Christina, one of my favorites here at HODR, was integral to that place. She is a nurse, and that was her homebase. Saddest for her, but amazing that she got to help so many people while she could. I promised her a "drown your sorrow" beer once it was done. She accepted.
Jump ahead two hours. Dusk is over Leogane. I make my way to Little Venice, the bar at the end of the road. I find Paddy, Christina, Simon, Jodie and some people from the hospital whose names I didn't know but whose faces I recognized. One other girl is there, I've never met her, pretty, something about her I like. It's instinctive. She's got my attention. Caelin, nice to meet you.
We all settle in, I order Christina a beer, as promised, and myself one as well. Paddy, Jodie and the hospital people depart. Simon, Christina, Caelin and I remain. The sky looms dark, lightning on the horizon, clouds moving quickly in our direction. Black clouds. Big clouds. Clouds that have a point to make. It hasn't rained in a few days. Those clouds have been conserving their energy.
Ten minutes later it begins. The winds hit first. The dirt road is lifted into the air, it reminds me of something out of a tornado movie, only it doesn't spin, it simply lifts and moves horizontally, at us, with speed. Violent, but welcomed. We huddle on the bench, exposed and facing the road, laughing and trying to dodge the dirt aimed at our eyes. BOOM. The thunder breaks. The sky is electric. Mother Nature has shortcircuited herself. The rain doesn't start, it just is. Thick torrents, walls of water falling, but sideways, like the dirt. We huddle closer. The Haitians in the street scatter. It's dark now, headlights from the few moto-taxis and trucks breaking through, illuminating the drops as they crash against the leaky tarp overhead, itself whipped around like a ragdoll in the hands of a goliath. Water is everywhere. There is not point in trying to stay dry, that isn't in the cards for us. We cuddle together, the girls cold, Simon scrambling to stash his electronics in the hut owned by the patron of the bar. I'm laughing and smiling like someone let free. The Haitian kids who have chosen this place as their shelter come into us, on our laps, laughing and clutching for our hands. They scream when the thunder shatters ten feet over our heads. No chance to have a cigarette - everything is wet. I take my shower, outside of the tarp, removing my shirt and opening my arms to the sky. A truck passes, I raise my hands in happiness, wave. The truck stops, its Hatian driver opening the door to come out into the downpour with me. He laughs. I laugh. We embrace. He's back in his truck and gone. Darkness. Everything is perfect. I cannot hide my grin.
And there we were, two hours, huddled, sharing our stories, drinking our beers, learning basic Creole, talking in Spanish. Caelin is tri-lingual. She and I share our Mexican slang, and she translates what the kids are saying, as she's versed in French. Simon tells me about his early years. I feel closer to him. Christina is a pure source of affection. I appreciate her.
The storm passes. Christina departs for camp. We three remain for a while, as the kids start to return to wherever they came from. Caelin bids us farewell. She's left an impression on me. Simon and I head back, and are sidetracked by a street vendor yelling, "Sausisse!". The hunger is there, we tuck under her tarp. A tiny oil lamp half-reveals our choices. We pick randomly. I eat something that tastes good, but must have been brain or intestine. That's just fine. Simon follows suit. We stop quickly at Joe's, have one final beer, and now here I sit, enveloped in the beauty of where I am. I'm still grinning.