Mangos and Handgrenades


Mango’s as you may or may not have EVER noticed are shaped an awful lot like hand grenades, well – at least they’d be shaped like hand grenades if hand grenades were mango shaped. If that doesn’t make sense don’t worry it’s probably just the sleep deprivation.
I have noticed in the last six years that I never sleep in Haiti. Well ok, I do sleep a bit. I sleep for 1/2 hour and wake up for an hour and I sleep for an hour and a half and then I wake for twenty minutes… you get the picture. Laying in bed: 7.5 hours. Actual sleep: about 4 hours. That’s kind of the way it runs with me here.

It’s not the noise per se, I’ve tried ear plugs, and even Benadryl all to no effect. So I wake up and pray or quote scripture or tonight I just decided that when i wake up past about 2:30 or 3 I’ll just go ahead and get up to read. It won’t be easy since the power is almost always out after 10 when the generators go off. The Haiti electrical department can always be depended on to be off.

Anyway, back to the mango story. As you may know mango’s are a rather dense fruit with a significantly sized pit in the middle. What you may not realize is that a mango tree can be rather tall, I mean significantly tall. In fact the Mango trees are so tall that they threaten to escape the earth’s gravity. The only reason they don’t is because of the enormous weight of the millions of mango’s hanging from every branch.

Mango trees of course don’t like being bound to gravity and thus they regularly shed the extremely large and heavy mango’s which proceed to plummet to the earth passing through what must turn out to be several atmospheric layers. When they finally hit the ground they create a thud with a very specific resonance designed to scare the pants off of whomever is sitting nearby.

What you also probably didn’t know is that nearly every house in which I’ve stayed in Haiti has two defining characteristics. 1) They are built with a relatively thin corrugated metal roof. and 2) they are always, for reasons which utterly escape me, built just below the largest mango trees – which coincidently also have the greater collections of the largest and most heavy mango’s. This results in the clarification I promised earlier.

With a regularity that can only be described as alarming and yet with a combined paucity of frequency which is designed to lull one into the beginning of calm the mango’s from the very highest branches will let loose and plummet through the many layers of atmosphere and will strike unceremoniously upon the corrugated metal roof. The combined result of density, gravity and metal ‘roofness’ is a very loud, almost always unexpected bang. In celebration of these constant and somewhat tortuous occurrences I have taken to shouting “grenade” whenever one strikes the roof. This, as you might well imagine is beginning to cut into the already limited sleeping time.

Also, I’m sure once I’m joined by others on Saturday who are likely to move into my humble abode my newfound fondness for shouting grenade is likely to cause some degree of distress among my newfound neighbors. I hope they plan on sleeping lightly.

Ah, there’s one now, GRENADE!