Bucket Bath

Eddie and Ralph both lost their homes in the earthquake. When we visit what's left of Eddie's place, he shows us where his parents had been sitting when the roof came down. Eddie's entire block is devastated. Like so many in the middle class, his neighbors have set up their tents next to where their homes had been, instead of in the mass camps that populate every public park and open space down in the heart of the city. Some live out of their cars. Still more have fled Haiti completely, and are now living with family in The Dominican Republic or the U.S. (Eddie's own parents, in fact, both escaped the falling roof with relatively small injuries and are living temporarily with his brother in New Jersey). Eddie is eager to rebuild but to date hasn't received city approval to even clear his lot. Similarly, we witness a minor confrontation between Ralph and a man from his neighborhood over ownership of Ralph's mother's home, which is also collapsed. The original deed to the home is lost in the rubble, and -- like every single government building in downtown Port Au Prince -- the Deed Office is completely destroyed.

Eddie and Ralph have rented a house for guests of their 2Care foundation in what was previously the wealthy area of town, up in the hills of Patronville, looking over the city. For the last 3 months, the house has been Ralph's primary residence. It is large but modestly appointed and needs a lot of general maintenance, not to mention a woman's touch.

Janis and I sleep in bunk beds and share a bathroom at the end of the hall. Since water and electricity are only sporadically available, there is a large bucket in the shower filled with water from the reservoir on the first floor. When there´s no running water¨, Eddie explains, ¨We go Indian-style¨, though only later to I realize that means we bathe from water in the bucket (which come to find out can be surprisingly effective, as a well-travelled Facebook friend noted, and I soon validated.) I also learn a lesson in physics  when Janis explains that when the toilet pumps aren't working, dumping a small bucket of water in the bowl actually triggers a flush.

So there is scarcely little electricity or running water, no air conditioning, no other modern conveniences. But given the circumstances that exist on the other side of the walls that shield us from the sun and rain, we choose to be grateful that there are also no mirrors in our part of the house.