Not too many weeks ago I was on my way to our local airport (a grass strip with cactus fencing) which receives perhaps 2-6 flights a day. With me were my two young daughters and an American visitor and a driver, all just out for the fun of picking up my husband who was scheduled to fly in on a chartered Missionary Aviation Flight. (their planes carry 5 passengers and are the size of a small suburban)
As I drove up to the entrance it became obvious that there was a larger crowd than normal. I soon saw what the attraction was: not one but two large white U.N. helicopters parked on the grass plus a large U.N. truck filled with Chilean troops. These guys rotate through our area every two weeks protecting us from....maurading goats? The irony on that matter is that if there is a security problem, we can't call them. We (community residents) have to call the capital and ask for them to send a Haitian police officer to come from 3 hours away. Obviously the response time is a bit sluggish. But anyway....
So the helicopters even weren't that unusual but what the crowds talking were. In rapid fire Haitian Creole the bystanders were leaning on their shovels and holding their donkey reins and saying, "Will you look at that?"
"There's a bunch of blan/ foreigners lying down on the grass at the airport"
"What's wrong with them?
"I think they're sick"
"Nah, they don't get sick"
"Well, they look like they are hurt!"
"Should we call someone at the hospital?"
"I dunno, Joe, there are all the soldiers just standing there, why don't they do something..."
By now I was pretty curious...so turned around and sure enough there under the helicopters were about 8 South American troops lying in various states of repose. Some appeared to be "sick" ...holding their heads, while some were lying in the sun getting a tan. Since the U.N. troops weren't getting too excited, I rapidly discerned that this was a military exercise going on to check response time. Hmmmm.
The only people getting excited though were the local residents behind me wondering what it was they should do. I wondered why the U.N. translators weren't explaining that this was all a game for safety, but figured they were too busy protecting the "gamers".
"Well, Joe, I think they are o.k., one of them is now reading a book."
"Do you think I should offer him a ride on my donkey?"
"Nah, they've got that big truck over there."
"Well, I hope they are alright"
I did too. (they were, & this exercise cost the UN several thousand $'s, and was given to ensure the Haitian people will have peace & prosperity I'm sure)
Just another day in the developing world . . .