Saturday, January 28, 2011
We have arrived without incident! It was a nice surprise to see the hangar (aka baggage claim and customs) now had sufficient lighting. It’s amazing to see the difference it makes on your first impression- it seems to make the place a little less daunting.
We found our contact, who as all the Haitians I’ve worked with, was very helpful and attentive. We piled into 2 cars and started getting request for money immediately. We were planning on tipping our porters, but not the random guy who claimed to have helped, but just happened to be in the right place at what he felt was the right time. Peeking into our window, we heard him saying, “Don’t you know what happened to us here? We need your money!” We finally got him to leave, but only after several uncomfortable moments. It breaks my heart that all too often this is the first exposure aid workers get to Haiti. Beggars are by far the minority in the country, but definitely make their presence known at the airport. However, once you are entrenched in Haiti, you will only see the hardworking, tenacious survivors I have come to know and love.
Our drive was what I expected, but it was enjoyable to watch the “newbies” faces. Haitian car rides consistently overwhelm your senses and you will never forget your first exposure to such a way of life. It was rough, unpredictable and as always, eye opening.
I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked. There were many people in arm’s reach of my broken door window and I just wasn’t comfortable flashing my camera around.
Also, I really missed Raguel at this point. Raguel was not only my translator last trip, but served as my protector and more importantly, friend. I felt safer with him and really wished he could have been sitting next to me. Actually, Raguel is not even in Haiti anymore- he was very fortunate and received a Visa to attend college in the States! I am sincerely happy for him, but the selfish part of me wished he could be by my side. Haiti is not the same without him.
Although I was keenly aware of Raguel’s absence, I couldn’t help but smile about my return to Haiti soil, broken roads and tent cities. It’s completely unexplainable, but as we traversed garbage eating pigs, Texas sized potholes and a traffic system consisting mainly of honking horns and playing chicken, I knew that I didn’t want to be anywhere but here. Thank you, God, for putting Haiti in my heart.
We arrived at our first host site and picked out our “pool side” tents, ate a quick dinner and got a tour of the premises. The people that reside her come from all walks of life, excluding mine- suburbia. Everyone is friendly and has the same goal: to give the best help to those less fortunate than us. Places like these are a gem amongst the rubble; truly inspirational.
I would love to have the energy to socialize with my new friends, but am exhausted. I have been up for about 36 hours, as airport floors have proven too cold to sleep on. So I’m off to get some rest, if such a thing exists when you can’t wait to get to work!