Looks like we will finally be moving into our new home over the next couple of days. Never the easiest of tasks, in Haiti it is quite the logistical challenge.
By way of illustration (not a moan – I realise these are the challenges of the privileged), this is the list of things we need to do:
– Check gas canisters for cooker. (No gas mains).
– Buy diesel cans, and fill with diesel for the generator. (No electricity. We need enough fuel to last us through potential shortages)
– Check that the generator has been fixed. (It would not start when previously checked)
– Ensure the batteries for the inverter have been replaced. (Haitian households mostly run off ‘inverters’. These are banks of twelve to twenty four batteries – a bit like car batteries – which store electricity from the generator, or from the one or two daily hours of Haitian mains electricity, and are then converted back to AC in order to run basic appliances.)
– Buy distilled water to keep inverter batteries topped up.
– Check water supply. (No running water. We will regularly have to pay for a big truck to fill up the cistern).
– Disinfect water supply.
– Check on installation of new security gate (following the UN security assessment).
– Hire day guard and two night guards.
– Check protective fence around the house.
– Check fridge works on inverter. (Only specific energy light fridges can run off the limited power supply).
– Check water pump works. (Water will not travel to taps unless this is in good order).
– Purchase and install satellite internet system. (No cable).
– Make arrangements for garbage removal (very limited municipal waste management)
– Stock up on Culligan drinking water. (Everyone uses these giant plastic bottles of Culligan. We need around 6 or 7.)
This aside from the obvious stuff like signing for the shipment, overseeing its delivery etc etc
Chances are at that at any one time, one if not more of these items will need fixing.
One notable exception: telephone. Thanks to the mighty Digicel, the cellphone operator which has taken over this country in the space of three years, we no longer have to worry about making a call. Hooray for technological leapfrogging.
Still, no wonder so many people choose to stay in hotel complexes. They include all amenities ready to go and are intrinsically safe. But these apartments also tend to be small and expensive, and if you can get a house up and running, it can be a much more memorable experience. Quite something after living in a New York box.
The house we have chosen has a fantastic view of Port-au-Prince below. Very much looking forward to moving in.