Monday, July 13, 2009

chasing down the truck

When I was little, I used to chase down ice cream trucks. Not very often, it's true: it was much too expensive, and my mother preferred to make healthier frozen snacks with orange juice. In Roxbury, MA, where I live most of the time, the ice cream truck has the unfortunate habit of parking on the corner below the convent right when we're trying to chant the psalms for Evening Prayer, so it becomes a real challenge for the cantor to stay on pitch. Still, it brings back fond childhood memories, and I will admit to having last chased one down while in graduate school.

Well, I've been hearing similar music in the street near the Port-au-Prince convent. It goes by very regularly. There are several different melodies, including a medley of Christmas tunes, but I hear the same ones over and over, so I was fairly certain the vehicles were on a regular route, whatever they were. Still, I had never seen an ice cream truck here, nor does it quite seem to fit the context (though there are times I'd be thrilled for an orange sherbet push-up!). I've seen a lot of old trucks and school buses, still labeled "Smith County Schools" or "Jenny's Produce," so I wondered if it might be old ice cream trucks used for something else. Not so.

Yesterday, while coming back to Port-au-Prince from Darbonne, we passed a truck playing this music. Clearly it was not an ice cream truck, new or old. I inquired. Elange told me that it was a water truck. Water trucks play music for the same reason ice cream trucks in the U.S. play music: so people can chase them down and buy safe, treated drinking water.

Just stop and think about that for a moment. Hold those two images in your mind: children chasing down an ice cream truck and adults coming out to buy clean water.

Not much more to say, is there?

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