Trip Start Jun 18, 2011
10Trip End Jul 04, 2011
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Anne and I touched down in Haiti after a long delay in Miami and were immediately enveloped in a thick blanket of heat and humidity. This was not relieved by going into a cool terminal either, as the real terminal lay ruined from the 2010 earthquake. This building was only the first of many. So we cleared customs and Immigration in an old warehouse and found our bags. We promptly lost them again as 4 aggressive "porters" grabbed our bags from us, saying they would take us to the MTI car- it was overwhelming and rather scary as this onslaught of people crowded around us and we could not see our bags and ended up missing our real driver, who apparently had been waiting with a sign for us. Of course these porters wanted "payment" for their services! What a welcome to Haiti! Finally we extricated ourselves from them and found Charlie our real driver who decided to lock us in the truck for our safety- while he went to look for Danielle the third member of our team, who was arriving soon. Anne and I collapsed in the blessed air-conditioning and prayed some prayers for our safety and that of Danielle so she did not have to have such a fighting welcome. Soon we saw a rather lost looking young girl who fitted Danielle's description-she was also being hassled by a porter so Anne marched over to her and brought her to the safety of our truck. Charlie returned and we were on our way out of town to Les Cayes. We were told to expect a journey up to 6 hours but Charlie wanted to get there in 4 so we could be in by dark. Apparently most of the towns have no street lighting and indeed very little electricity. So we hurtled out of Port of Prince,hanging onto the straps as bounced over ruts and stones and just dirt.
As we left Port Au Prince the scenery changed a little with more lush and tropical vegetation.It was more green where as PAP seemed a dusty haze of brown and greys. Still there were people walking along the sides of roads, children in uniforms returning from school or carrying water jugs bigger than themselves or leading little goats or donkeys to graze on the green verges. Many women carried piles of branches on their heads or sat by fruit stands selling mangoes. Many times the driver was forced to drive on the opposite side of the road into oncoming traffic because of rocks or broken pavement or slow motor bikes,sounding his horn constantly to warn pedestrians as did everyone. Actually I wasn't really sure which was the correct side of the road for a long time. Sometimes we had to make detours due to broken bridges and we went down cart tracks into the river and up and over to the other side. Other times the paved road was not too bad.
The road through the mountains and along the south coast was actually good and there were beautiful views . The island definitely has a tropical beauty- it is so sad that these lovely parts of the island cannot stimulate tourism to help move the people out of poverty. There were also some sad sights-particularly children carrying heavy burdens and thin little cows and mules
Finally we entered through a large arch announcing Bienvenue aux Cayes. We had arrived in the city where we were going to live and work for 2 weeks for MTI. This city of 300000 was bustling but still with very few paved roads and no electricity. We arrived in the dark at the gate of the MTI guest house, which was lit because of my noisy generator. My stomach churned -I was not sure if it was because of the hair raising ride, the anti malarial pill which had been giving me trouble, or the nervous anticipation of how I was going to deal with all the challenges of Haiti.The adventure continues and so do the prayers....
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