My development work has almost always involved critters of one form or another. Whether it’s majestic giraffes grazing on the side of the road, emaciated cows on struggling farms, wild baboons joining outdoor business meetings, or unwanted creepy crawly things in my hotel room, they’re part of the landscape. In Haiti it was a menagerie.
During my time in Vallue, I would sit outside each evening and wait for the bats. At dusk they would swoop in like a massive flapping storm cloud to feed in the nearby mamey tree. The swarm was the size of Rhode Island. They’d stay about a half hour, until it became dark, and then move on. It was magical.
I witnessed live beak-to-beak cock fights in Haiti. Perhaps the strangest animal experience was the one-legged green parrot that parked itself next to me in front of the class as I conducted a workshop, eyeing the students like an avian teaching assistant.
The insects and reptiles are the worst, and they always want to cohabitate. I had both join me one evening in my hotel room. The black beetle was the length of my palm; the lizard was bigger and faster. I managed to hold my breath and squash the bug, but couldn’t bring myself to dispose of the body. The next morning there was absolutey no trace of the carcass. Wondering what the heck happened, I realized that the lizard must have
had it for dinner. Bon appetite, and thanks for the cleanup.