Every so often, I’d like to share a little about what it is like to be in Haiti from my personal perspective. The other day, I was answering the question about why it takes so long for an adoption to be completed in Haiti. One of my responses was “the Haitian Attitude”. I used dining in a restaurant as an example. After I was finished sharing a snippet about that, I had to chuckle to myself. There is nothing quite like dining in Haiti. It’s not that the food is so unusual (though chicken spaghetti or hotdog spaghetti are a little different), but rather that a simple meal can take an obscene amount of time to complete.
The first time we traveled to Haiti, our agency sent us a travel packet with lots of terrific information. One of the things that caught my attention was ordering food should be done about an hour before you wanted to actually eat. I scoffed at this tip, thinking, “How bad can it be?” It was obvious from my skepticism that I was a rookie.
Whether we ordered room service, or went to the hotel’s restaurant, we had to wait for our food. There were times we waited so long for room service; that we would forget we had even ordered it. Or, we would order our next meal almost immediately after finishing the one we had just received.
A good portion of our trip was spent waiting at the hotel’s restaurant for our meals. If we hadn’t ordered ahead of time, we would sit at the table for a good two hours before we actually consumed any food. If you just felt the need for a little companionship, and only wanted a soda, you might be lucky if you only had to wait for twenty minutes for it to arrive. At least we had time to visit with the other adoptive parents, right?
One time I ordered the exact same meal right after another adoptive parent did. However, the waitress informed us about 45 minutes after she took our orders that they were out of what we had ordered. She re-took the other parent’s order, but did not take mine. We sat around confused for the next 45 minutes, when I was suddenly presented with what we had originally ordered; while the other adoptive parent (who had ordered it first) got his second choice meal.
Several times we ordered one particular item, only to be presented with something entirely different. We would explain the problem, but it was never a concern for our waitress. She had just given us food, what was the big deal? If we wanted the right item, we would have to wait another half hour to full hour to get it. Who had patience for that?
And if things weren’t odd enough, there were a couple of times we wanted to add food to our order (if we hadn’t gotten enough), and our waitress told us “no.” I saw it happen to the other adoptive families, as well. One mom’s son wasn’t satisfied with his plate of spaghetti, so she decided to add on some rice and beans. The waitress was cleaning up the little boy’s empty plate, when the adoptive mom made her request. The waitress shook her head “no.” She looked at the waitress and asked for more food again, only to be told, “Non.” The adoptive mom, completely dumbfounded, asked, “I can’t order anymore food?” The waitress shook her head as she continued to clean off the table, and again said, “Non.”
You just have to laugh!