Basically, nothing exciting is going on in my life for the next week, so I am going to be telling the story of my week in Haiti. I wish I had a blog then because it was an intense week. Anyways, here are my Haiti Chronicles.
With just about every trip I go on, things start off a bit rough. The day we were supposed to leave was just that, rough. This was my first trip without any family or close friends. I was going to a developing nation at 21 with 9 people that I had either met in my global health class or through other classes prior. To be honest I cried all morning. On top of that, we were having a storm that was freezing rain and snow. We ended up leaving later than we planned because of this. The first stop of our adventure was to our professor’s brothers house in Connecticut. We broke up in groups of 3-4 and drove down. The driver for the car I was in went about 80 the whole way. I wouldn’t say she is a bad driver, but she could be better. That combined with the ice made for a sketchy drive, but we made it to Connecticut in record time.
That afternoon we finished packing up the last of our supplies. Each of us had 2 check on bags for our stuff we were bringing to leave, like school supplies, medical equipment, toys, etc. Then we all had 2 carry-ons for our clothes and personal things. This became a problem the next morning we had to pile into a van with all of this stuff. We didn’t fit, we all had things in our lap and our professor’s husband had to drive to JFK with the rest of the bags that we couldn’t fit. Before this, our alarm clock didn’t go off so we were all running late too. Once at JFK, things got better for the time being. Of course I set off the body scanner, I always do. I had leggings and a t-shirt on so what set it off, no one knows. Our flight was nice. There wasn’t too much turbulence, but as someone who is scared of heights, it was a little anxiety provoking.
Now this is where the fun began. Seeing the mountains in the distance was breathtaking. We also went from having about 10 minutes to land to being on the ground and having to brace ourselves because it was a very fast transition. It also took a very long to get off the plane and it was so hot and humid, I thought my skin was just going to melt off. Then immigration had only 1 person working with all the planes arriving at the same time. This took at least an hour to get through. Once through, on the way to baggage claims someone was getting arrested in one of the shops, then the guys helping us at baggage claim got into a fight over who should help us. Then, to avoid anyone from going through our bags, our professor paid for us to be able to leave the airport quicker.
Once you leave the airport doors we were bombarded with a sea of people who wanted to “help” us. Everyone was yelling and there was barely any room to walk. We had a translator and his friends waiting for us, but it was almost impossible to find them. Men kept grabbing my bags and just wouldn’t leave me alone. After what seemed like forever, we all found our way to the vehicles we were going to be taking to Cazale. All our bags were piled into the back of 2 trucks and the translator and his friends sat on them as we went to the village to prevent anyone from stealing them. It was about an hour drive. One bridge had been recently destroyed due to an accident so we had to go on a new bridge that was quickly made to replace the other. Also, there are essentially no rules when driving, so it is wild.
On the way, we drove past little trailers that were police stations, the ocean that was so blue, the mountains that seemed to go on forever, and some houses, one of which had a small child outside crying at the gates, begging for his mother to let him in. Most of the kids were half naked, walking along the street that was littered with trash.
Once in Cazale we unloaded all our bags and began to settle in at our home for the week. We were staying in a church in the village. A once empty room was soon cluttered with our sleeping mats and bags. After we had a traditional Haitian meal, I highly recommend goat. We worked on saying some of the more popular phrases in Haitian Creole while sitting at a table in a small hallway.
After, we retreated to the roof. Here we watched as a mountain went up in flames. It was almost growing season, so the farmers were preparing their fields. There was also a strong scent of sage burning in the air and the sound of all the animals in the village. But it was oddly peaceful.