A flower catches my attention out of the corner of my eye. Brilliant red, and surrounded by fluttering clouds of small butterflies of every different shade and hue. As my senses are captivated by this scene, my foot slips out from under me, and I am falling. This is not an uncommon occurrence. Morne Michele, the most recent zone into which Zanmi Kafe has expanded, is even more mountainous than our other site at Bois Jolie. Every field, building, and trail has been painstakingly cut into the steep slopes of the mountainside. The broken limestone of the mountain is often wet and slippery, or crumbles at the touch of a boot, sending one or another of us into a barely controlled fall. This phenomenon has engendered the phrase among us, “That’s not hiking, that’s falling with style!”
View of Lac Peligre from Morne Michele.
[Photo: Ben McKenzie]
Although Morne Michele continues to present many challenges, mostly associated with working on such steep inclines, I am inclined to say that working here has enriched us indelibly. This zone offers breathtaking views of Lac Peligre and the Artibonite valley below, fields of flowers we had never seen before, and a new set of friends and partnerships to be made. When I signed onto the Zanmi Kafe project, we already had great ties and wonderful friendships with the people of Bois Jolie. I was welcomed in as part of a family. Here in Morne Michele, I have the privilege of helping to forge new bonds with the farmers here. We have already begun to feel more at home here, playing dominoes and card games at night with local farmers, and sometimes humiliating ourselves by joining in the kids’ soccer games that spontaneously erupt in the schoolyard. I have never felt quite as unathletic as when my fellow interns and I are being massacred by a group of 8-15 year olds.
Thus, as I fall in a barely controlled manner down the mountainside, I feel incredibly privileged to be among the first Sewanee students to get to know this beautiful place and its residents. I have great hopes for the future of our relationship with Morne Michele, the place that has taught me the beauty of falling with style.
Sunrise at the Zanmi Lasante school in Morne Michele.
[Photo: Ben McKenzie]