February 24, 2010

Don't Be a Menace to Port-au-Prince While Drinking Your Dr. Pepper in the Hood

Today was an interesting, interesting day. We drove almost 3 hours across Haiti from Port au Prince to Jacumel. Jacumel is on the southern coast of the island, and according to the United Nations charts, was 80-90% destroyed by the earthquake.

The mechanics came in the morning, and after a few hours of god-knows-what, the truck was "ready" and we were off. Some of the areas outside the city were unbelievably destroyed by the earthquake. Here are some photos of the road about 20 minutes outside of Port au Prince: Apparently everyone had a grand ol' time in the back of the pick up truck. Trying to avoid the scorching Haitian midday sun, I sat shotgun in the cab, MP drove, and JE and A sat in the back seat. As such, we were left out of the "loop" of the fun and games of the truck bed. Oh well.

MP stopped about 1/2 way there at a little roadside stand in a town/village called Fondwa. He went to get some sort of Haitian roadside food, and we treated 4 dogs and 1 cat while waiting for his food to cook. Here is a photo of me, JE and RB treating a cat in Fondwa:
We arrived at the Department of Agriculture offices in Jacumel after an exhausting 2 hour drive through the mountains in the truck which was actually WORSE after the mechanics messed with it this morning. There were literally goats walking on the side of the highway faster than we were driving. UGH. After about 20 minutes of English to Spanish to French to Creole and back to French then Spanish then English translation, it was discovered that the Department of Agriculture was so excited to have veterinary support, they planned an entire day of meetings, organizing, collaborating and such, and were then prepared for another whole day of treatments, clinics, and what not. They were crestfallen to know that we were actually there for only one day (today) and only for 3 hours.

I finally threw up my hands and just said "f it" to the whole situation - the only people who could intelligently argue this conversation (JG and MP), didn't say much, and every mono-lingual person had something to say about the mess of the situation.

Yes - this should have been determined ahead of time.
Yes - someone should have arranged the meetings/times/etc on the phone before we drove across Haiti.
No - there is nothing we can do about it now.
No - arguing won't get any animals treated.
Yes - we should go NOW and treat as many animals as possible NOW, and argue later.

We would have an entire 2+ hour ride home to b*tch about the piss-poor planning.
Done? Done.
Good? Good.
Todo bien? Sure, why not.

We followed the agriculture department officers to a house where there was reportedly a very sick dog - I was hot and aggravated at that point, and just assumed stay in the truck rather than pile into the 10' x 10' backyard/patio with 4 other gringos, MP, 2 translators, a 5 person Haitian family, their 3 pets, and all the neighbors that came by to see what was all the commotion. I poked my head in for just a second to hand JE some ivermectin, then wound up catheterizing and anesthetizing a dog with a huge, gaping, maggoty neck wound from a too-tight collar.
In the meantime, JE and JG treated the maggot dog's puppy and the family cat for parasites. We left the man (who spoke English) with all sorts of antibiotics and disinfectant for the dog post-op, but I didn't agree with it - even though it was under the best of intentions. It is hard enough to get pet owners in Greenwich, CT to be compliant with medications and after care - it is damn near impossible to expect an earthquake-ravaged Haitian family with no running water to flush the dog's neck wounds. But one can always hope, right?

When we got back to the truck, there were 2 dogs waiting for us with the typical crowd of intrigued people. It seems wherever we go, there are at least 10 people surrounding us (and the terrified animal(s) we're treating...) in a shrinking, oppressing circle. Several young Haitian men brought a gangly, limping Rottweiler to the truck, and told MC and JE she started limping after another (Haitian??) vet gave her a vitamin injection. Hmmm.... The vets discovered a ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear in the affected leg, which could be due to any number of injuries, but probably not from a vitamin injection. As such, we didn't give the dog any injections of ivermectin, and instead opted to give her oral medication, then explain to the owners that she had a "footballista" injury (as ACL tears are common with athletes). They seems to understand, so hopefully it was good.... here is the Rotti with the voodoo doctor vitamin injury:

We stopped a few blocks away and treated another 6 dogs in the street. Then the agriculture department took us to a chicken/turkey/pig farm on the outskirts of town where the vets gave antibiotics and parasite treatments to 2 guard dogs. Then we had a 2+ hour ride back. MP was racing the sunset - trying to make it over the winding, narrow mountain roads before dark. We literally coasted off the mountain road just as the light disappeared. It was MC's birthday, so MP and I wanted to try and find beer to bring back to camp. MP stopped along the side of the road just outside of Port au Prince at a "drive up" bar, where he ordered 4 shots for the guys as a birthday toast. According to MC, it was pretty nasty. But it's the thought that counts, right???
Bottoms up, boys!!!!

MC's mother deserves a huge shout-out here for collaborating with CK to get a birthday card to MC in Haiti, which was smuggled in my checked bags with 3 bottles of Dr. Pepper and a box of Snickerdoodles.

This morning, we had P put the Dr. Peppers in the refrigerator in the bank next to the campsite (don't ask...) along with JG's 3 bottles of Presidente Light (Dominican beer). JE brought a box of chocolate cake mix and sprinkles, so while we went off to find Ramon and hopefully an oven, P brought out the beer and Dr. Peppers. My elaborate plan to embarrass MC en mass was foiled, and he was already 1/2 way through a bottle of Dr. Pepper when we got back to camp. I gave him his mom's birthday card and the box of Snickerdoodles, but he was a bit buzzed from the Haitian moonshine so it took a minute to click :)

JE and RB managed to "bake" the cake in some sort of camp-devised fire oven with the cake mix and a bottle of Coke (no Dr. Pepper... that is like liquid gold!) Ramon came over with a birthday tray of dinner and plantains (!!!!) and we had quite a lovely celebration considering how long and exhausting the day was.
Ramon's birthday dinner and Josh's magic cake
Don't be a Menace to Port-au-Prince While Drinking Your Dr. Pepper in the Hood

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