Nancy Knollenberg is a great producer of hansans, portable, elegant with their matching carabiners.
I took them to SanFil, where Mother Theresa’s nuns (sisters of charity, I think, but don’t hold me to that) run a sort of flop house for Haitians with nearly nowhere to go. They line up on benches to be seen.
God alone knows what chain of events leads to making that cut. They have a men’s ward and a woman’s ward- maybe 40 beds each in two big rooms. By the time you get through them, you want to throw out your clothes. There’s no running water except in the kitchen, and Rick sees the men down there. I’m upstairs, there are smells and wet coughs, a field day for Dickens, and I LIKE those hansans.
So I offered them to Sr Anusha, a sweet little optimist from Orissa.
And she said, “Oh those beautiful blue lanyards, you can’t get anything like that in Haiti, could you bring me 300 of them? We’ll put medals of Mary on them for the first communicants! Won’t that be special?”
My observation: “Ah, no, sister, I think that’ll be really stupid- take the hansans and shut up, why don’t you?”
But my response: “Well, I’ll see what Nancy can do.” Thinking, not for the first time, that faith transforms people into something beyond my ken.
Of course, Nancy can do anything, so this time, I carried 300 blue lanyards, in a nice box, no soap.
Meanwhile, Wynn called and said they were getting slammed trying to buy meds in the local market, could I bring some? Sure, whaddya need- 8 boxes of antibiotics, and an alarming number of pre and post anesthesia meds, anxiolytics for the newly intubated, narcotics, etc. Stuff I mostly don’t use and rarely write scripts for.
Hmm, ask forgiveness if we must, but not permission. I called my local benefactor, and filled the list. I remember the story of Clinton’s rice, but I’m no big shot, and my pals are operating on a shoestring here.
At the last moment, Judy caught wind of the developments. Not to be outdone, she emailed Thursday night, late, asked for cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapeutic, and why not, some cranberry sauce, whole berries and strained- Thanksgiving is upon us, and Rick likes it so well.
I put Genetta on the chemo- she never fails, and we got the goods, but the trip took much longer to develop than usual. Cranberry sauce took awhile, shoulda put Genetta on that, too.
Came past Port de Paix, over the mountains, it was pretty in the late afternoon.
By the time they finished the immigration shuffle, and the hot start failed repeatedly- every time I think I have it settled, I get stumped anew- it was dark and empty when I taxied over to the “Ti” airport (GA).
Only the one guy was there, and my familiars- Jean Franz, Alain, and Chery- were home, long gone.
With those fellows, 5 bucks- significant overpayment of the day rate, leads to rapid unloading of the plane, everything I brought lands on the truck in pretty good order, and off we go, smiles all around.
This fellow got a hard on when he saw all that I unloaded from the plane. I became worried when he didn’t want to help me unload it- coulda made a couple of bucks, coulda been family. But he had bigger eyes than that.
Where are you coming from?
You haven’t cleared customs
Sure I did, look at these papers- cost me a hundred bucks
Those are from immigration. Customs is closed. I’ll keep these boxes here til the morning when we can open them.
You will not, some of them are refrigerated, and they’ll spoil (Shoot, wrong tactic- now he knows I care about them).
You can’t take them with you.
Goddammit, I paid everybody who put a hand out, now I’m taking these to the hospital. You can send your guys there in the morning if there’s a problem…
And an inspiration- Here- look at what I have, anyway, and I ripped open the lanyard box- It’s just a bunch of goddamned lanyards, and here’s some damned cranberry sauce.
I didn’t know the words for these, so I did an American thing, shameless- I shouted at him in English. Tried to stand taller, lean in, like Johnson in the Senate,1956.
By then Dimitri the driver showed up, sweet relief. Arms full, I blustered through the door, loaded the truck, and we were gone while he was still thinking WTF!? This crazy blon flew all the way down here with 15 boxes of lanyards? It’s amazing these people are so far ahead of us, unbelievable…
Meanwhile, I’m coming around.
Sister Anusha may be on to something.