We drove slowly along the bumpy track, winding through the countryside, passing small shops and stalls at the side of the road and dodging the occasional goat, pig or more often, motorbike that came across our path. The meandering track took us across (through) a river and up into the rural areas of Léogâne. The road surface eventually deteriorated and we were forced to continue on foot.
A little way up the steep path was a church, overlooking the community below, with spectacular views out to the palm-lined coast below. Slowly but surely others arrived for the meeting. Waiting outside in the heat seemed no different from sweltering inside, until a welcome breeze came in through the windows of the church. The meeting got under way, and I struggled to focus on following the discussion, all in Creole, in the close heat. Voices were raised and passionate perspectives aired, with hand gestures and shouts back and forth.
Two and a half hours of lively discussion later my companions and I headed back down the hill. They gave me a brief summary of the meeting and assured me that despite the raised voices, it was a calm and peaceful meeting! After hours of struggling to concentrate on discussions in a foreign language and in a hazy heat, it was a blessing to return to an air-conditioned vehicle for the drive back to the office. With many more community meetings coming up ahead, I am sure I will have a lot to learn from these vibrant Haitians.