Spring in Haiti means increased humidity and frequent evening rainstorms. During the day the heat may be mitigated by cloud cover, but the breeze dies to nil in the midafternoon, which makes the place sticky as glue. I feel like Pig Pen here; I am filthy and gritty from morning to night, while the locals all still look clean and fresh.
The vegetation here blooms year round, but it is more robust in the spring. Mango trees are flush, coconuts plentiful, the papaya are immense and bananas are everywhere. After living in the United States, where almost all of our food passes through many hands before reaching our mouth, I am still surprised by how easy it is to reach up and pull down a mango, and enjoy.
The bananas intrigue me the most. They grow very fast and create huge clusters with dozens of fingers that can weigh up to 100 pounds. Bananas don’t grow on trees; rather they are the world’s largest herb, their trunks composed of layers of stiff leafed ‘pseudostems’, that nest tight to each other. Each stem produces one cluster of bananas and then shoots off babies. Bananas grow in more than 100 countries, produce fruit in less than one year, and come in many varieties of color, shape, and sweetness. They are mostly starch (30 g vs.1.5 g protein vs. 0,5 g fat) that satisfies their important role as ‘filler food’ in subsistence societies, since they are available year round in the tropics. What I like best about them is the amazing purple inflorescence that is the genesis of each cluster. It is the most vibrant color I see in Haiti.
Spring is also a time when animal life is very prevalent. Kids and chicks, puppies and piglets scamper after their mothers everywhere. Their dispositions are remarkably consistent. All goats are skittish and whiny, all pigs ponderous and wise. The puppies look varied at first, some are round and furry, others all bones, but within a month they develop the characteristic short hair, long snout, lean legs and medium height that define the Haitian mutt.
This weekend is the apex of Haitian spring, Easter. Everyone gets two days off, Good Friday and Saturday; the only three day weekend of the year for those few people fortunate enough to have a job. Our work sites closed early today, the workers got paid for a full week. People are pretty happy with their plenty.