Nick and I think the same measurement can be applied to living in Haiti. We call this phenomenon, "Haiti years." For every year you spend here, you really age 7. Don't believe me? Go check out the facebook of some people you know who've lived in Haiti for a while. Check out their "before Haiti" pics and their pictures now. Seven years of sun-damage, hair-graying, wrinkles, etc will easily pile on in just a year. (Make it an earthquake year and we're talking more like 14, but I digress...)
But it doesn't just apply to people. It applies to pretty much everything here. Such as:
- Cars. Our car is 3 years old and it drives more like a 21 year old car.
- Clothing/linens. Clothes wear out/fade/get tears from handwashing/line-drying in no time at all. Before moving to Haiti I've had sheets last me 15-20 years. I literally still had a set I got in 8th grade. Here, within months there are inevitably holes in the sheets. I don't know how it happens. Same with clothes. We go through SO many sheets/towels/clothes.
- Dogs. So, there is a bit of an overpopulation of street dogs here. Virtually no one spays or neuters. However, dogs in Haiti have a double whammy... dog years X Haiti years. That makes it 49 years per actual year. And considering that the lifespan of these mangy mutts is about 1-2 actual years, I think our estimation is pretty correct.
- Dishes. Now, I am not sure how much of this is that I live in an orphanage and how much can be blamed on Haiti years, but yeah. The rate at which we go through dishes-- glass, ceramic, or even plastic is MIND BOGGLING. And not because they get lost-- I am sort of a stickler about that. It's more that they break or chip or crack.
- Knives. We grew up with the same knives in my house from the time I was a little kid until I left for college. Occasionally my mom would find a "new" one at a garage sale or thrift store, but for the most part, they were the same knives. Here, we're on our 3rd set. Why? Because my kids/staff use kitchen knives for things that aren't really appropriate uses-- like to open cans. Like to chop branches of trees and whittle. Like to slaughter goats. (Just to name a few.)
- Appliances. Same thing-- I grew up with the same washer/dryer my whole childhood. When I got married, we got a new washer/dryer that lasted for the whole time we lived in the states after that and was sold still in excellent condition. We are now on our 3rd rainwasher. We also had a high efficiency washer that worked for about 3 days when we first moved here. Here, things break ALL THE TIME. Whether it's overuse, electrical surges, or improper use... yeah appliances take a beating. Haiti years apply.
- Electronics. I have been through a great many computers and phones since living here. 3 MacBooks, 2 Iphones (on my third), and at least 2 Blackberries. And that's just me. Nick's been through as many of each, with the exception of Blackberries-- he's probably at least on number 6. Nia's on her second Kindle. Nick's on his second Kindle Fire. My iPad is no longer with us thanks to robbers. We've had two cameras disappear. About an equal number of these items were stolen as were broken. Haiti years strike again. We have this portable Bose speaker system that was given to us as a gift from our home church, Crosspointe. We've already had to have it refurbished once. And it's in need of being refurbished a second time as it's not working. We've only lived here THREE YEARS PEOPLE.
They are real.