while in the car

by Kayla Raymond

It is around 10:30 on a Wednesday morning and I just spent the last two hours in awful traffic. Over a month ago a main bridge that allows you to come into the city collapsed. We would soon learn it collapsed because people were stealing screws from it during the night to sell and make some money. I guess if I were that hungry I would do the same thing, but it’s really messed things up. There are two other bridges that allow you to cross into the city. The first is about 45 minutes out of the way and the other goes through a very crowded part of the city and traffic is always a nightmare. They have created a little detour route by the bridge that fell, but the detour passes through the bank of a river and it’s rainy season now and most of it is under water. 

All this to say, it takes close to two hours to get into the city because of traffic when it normally should take 30 minutes. 

I’m now sitting in the car waiting for my husband, who is inside an office giving a final letter request for guardianship of our three children. I’m honestly writing this so I don’t have to think about what’s going on inside. 

A man just knocked on my window asking for money. A second man has now stopped to ask if I want my vehicle washed. 

What I really want is to get out of the truck and take a little stroll since I’ve been in traffic for two hours. But that’s not really an option. The part of the city we are in isn’t very friendly and not a place white girls should be found walking alone. What I would really love is a mocha frappe from Starbucks. 

I would love to go out walking not feeling unsafe. I would love to find a cute shop on the corner and maybe buy myself a “you’re surviving adulthood” gift, just because. 

I live in a very small community on the ocean. It’s peaceful, quaint and perfect for the girl who comes from small town America. The people know me and no longer call me “blan” (white) there. They call me by name and it’s amazing what being called by your real name and not a title will do to your spirit. I love my people of Simonette. I’m grateful they call me theirs. 

But, once I venture outside of my safe zone, everything changes. I no longer have a name and am seen only as a “blan”. I’m no longer safe and everyone thinks my pockets are lined with hundred dollar bills. Once you get into the city, all bets are off and you really have to be on your A game. I’ve been robbed on three separate occasions while living in Haiti and in the past month I personally know two people who were shot and another who was held at gun point. 

This isn’t to scare you all, but it’s just the reality and I think some days I’m so exhausted by having to be on my A game. I want to feel safe, get a fancy $5 white-girl drink and take a stroll on the sidewalk without being stared or yelled at. 

Before writing this, I spent a good 15 minutes strolling through my Facebook newsfeed. I saw three separate articles about this whole Target bathroom debate and it’s just humerous to me at this point. I think it comes down to perspective and the Target debate shows how privileged America is and how small our perspective of the world really is. 

People are living in war zones where they can’t walk safely on the streets, girls are being trafficked and kidnapped all around the world and right here in Haiti, people are sick with cholera and all sorts of other good stuff because it lacks sewer systems, clean water and all the nice sanitation that can be found in a Target bathroom. 

There’s a lot to complain about when you live in a third world country. There’s a lot to miss from America. But, Haiti has given me a perspective that will always keep me humble and for that I will always be grateful for. 

I may not be able to have my fancy drink or get some retail therapy in, but I won’t ever take for granted a clean bathroom with running water and as long as I have a clean place to pee I don’t care who or what is in the stall next to me. 

And what’s hilarious about this post is that a man literally just peed in front of my vehicle. Imagine the chaos if we were allowed to pee in public in America. 

And as for you Target, you define America for me. Your $1 bins, accessories and cute baby clothes make me feel all warm inside. I will be back in June and I can’t wait to spend time with you. 

I say, Let’s pee in peace and try to make the world a little better by fighting for something that matters.