Running (and falling) in Haiti
I am not sure why, but for some reason I really want to post this blog about what happened to me running today. I will give away the main point of the post right here…I fell completely to the ground twice! It was really embarrassing and I don’t know why I am posting this to let everyone know that happened except that it was pretty funny and I do not want to be the only one who gets a good laugh at it. So, here is today’s blog:
The past 2 days I have gone off campus (I had been working out on campus but got bored) to go for a run in the community around Hope Rising here in Haiti and it has been great. The funniest thing is that everyone seems so surprised that I am running even though there are many other Americans in this area that run. Everyone I pass gives me a high five and says, almost astonishingly, “You are working out?” If it weren’t so encouraging it would be really condescending because you can almost read behind what they are actually saying to know they are thinking, “Really, a guy this big is working out? Good for you big guy.” But the reality is they really seem to be proud of me and want to encourage me. They smile, clap, and give me a high five if they are close enough to reach me.
So, yesterday, I went down a really busy road with a few schools on it right when school was starting so I had to walk part of the way to stay out of the way of motos passing. This was the route I used to run when we lived at Christianville, so I knew my way around and how to run on the rocky terrain. Today, however, I decided to go down some back roads to stay away from the busy traffic but I did not really know my way around as well and I did not know the terrain.
I was about 1.5 miles into the run and I was looking around at the houses, goats, people, etc. when my foot hit a rock. Now, this happens from time-to-time to me, my foot hits a rock and I stumble but I keep going. This time, however, something new happened. My foot hit the rock and I expected my next step to catch me and to keep going, but that next step was not enough to keep me up. I stumbled, took a third step thinking I could save it, then realized there was no way but still took steps 4, 5, and 6 before finally falling all of the way to the ground. If you are clumsy like me, this has happened to you before. It is one of those extremely awkward, slow-motion type falls that is just really funny to see in someone else, but very damaging to your pride when it happens to you. You fall so slowly that it does not physically hurt, but you know how it looks to everyone else.
The other thing about that happening here is that Haitians are much different than Americans when it comes to things like this. In America, had this happened to me, nobody would have laughed outwardly. It would have been this really weird smile while coming over to make sure I was alright and stifling a laugh the whole time. We would have all known they wanted to laugh but manners/culture would dictate that we hold the laugh in until later because we do not laugh at strangers. In Haiti, everyone around just stopped what they were doing and had a good belly laugh. Nobody checked on me, everyone just saw this large American fall on the rocks awkwardly and thought it was hilarious so they laughed. I actually respect this reaction a little bit more, but it was fairly embarrassing.
So I went another mile or so when I had to run up a rocky hill. Now, my previous fall was still on my mind and I thought to myself, “Let’s make this without incident.” So I started going up and, to my surprise, I found myself face down on the rocks again. This time, there was no stumble, my feet just slipped right out from under me and I landed on my hands/stomach and I just laid there for a second. Unfortunately, this time, it was right next to a little shop and a stream where a couple of people were washing their motos. You don’t have to guess at everyone’s reaction, they just stopped what they were doing and just laughed…hard. This time, I just smiled, got up, looked around, and went off running again back to Hope Rising.
As I write this, my wrist is hurting just a little, my hand is scraped up a tiny bit, my muscles are a little sore from the past few days, but mainly my pride was damaged. I know I am clumsy, but now so do many of the Haitians in our community, and they think it is really funny. I’m not really sure why I shared this post, but one of the funny things you see in it is how different our cultures are. Neither is right or wrong, they are just different, and it really does take a lot to get used to how different things can be here. Please pray for us as we continue to learn what it means to live here and how to live here. It can be so easy to shut ourselves off from the community and culture but that is not what we were called to do. We were called to live here and be a part of everything that means. Even when it means everyone stops what they are doing and laughs at you while you lay face down in the dirt!