Sunday, September 13, 2009

Haiti Day Five

Our day began with another visit to the Sisters. It is very hot today and most of the team is feeling it in one way or another. Several of us have had a small bout of the ‘oogies,’ and a couple of us have started to take the Cipro we’ve brought with us.

After lunch today we had a meeting with the staff of the Mephibosheth house. It was an interesting experience. We are trying to find out what we can do to make their jobs easier when we come. They express that they are simply pleased to have us here. In their words, the best thing we can do is to come and love these children. Now that they know we are willing, they have promised to think carefully about the things they would like us to do the next time a team comes in January. We’re hoping they will be direct about what they would like us to do.

After the meeting, Dio took the team to see the village where he is planting another church. We drove north on Haiti’s Highway 1 along the west coast of the country. After leaving Port-au-Prince, we eventually caught sight of the ocean as we traveled further north. This is the road which would take us up to Gonaives, but we turn off before we get that far at a village named Cabaret. We pass through Cabaret and make our way further up into the mountains to Bethel.

This area was decimated by the hurricanes that went through last year. The water came straight down the river and destroyed much of what was in its path. Many people lost their homes and their land – they were left with nothing. Reconstruction has begun, but the process is slow as materials are not readily available and, of course, cost money. People are struggling through though, and even in such dire circumstances, children still laugh and play and adults greet us with a sincere smile of welcome. Currently, in Bethel, tents are erected for the purposes of shading and protection from rain and are used for church on Sunday and for classes during the week. A small classroom building has already been built and the church itself is next on the agenda.

By the time we return it is dark – and the ride has been a tough one. The highway itself has numerous potholes to circumnavigate and when we turn off the highway onto the mountain roads it is particularly bad. You must crawl along. Anything faster risks a flat tire or a broken axle. It feels like the bouncing of a small boat in a big storm. The van rocks from one side to the next and bounces up and down. A couple of us are feeling pretty carsick on the trip up and by the time we get back it’s just a bit too much. Luckily, the key to getting over motion sickness is to stop the motion, so once back at the house we recover quickly.

One of the more amazing things in Haiti is the patience of the drivers. Traffic is chaos. There are very few traffic signals or signs. People simply drive – virtually wherever they wish. We are passed on both sides simultaneously, people turn left in front of us or pull out from the curb without signaling. Buses, delivery trucks, tap-taps (the small truck that serve as shared taxis, carrying up to 15 or more people along with a chicken and a goat) cars and SUVs and pedestrians, lots of pedestrians, all fight for space and right of way. On-coming cars swerve into your lane of traffic to avoid the giant pothole in their lane. You simply slow down to allow them access then go on your way. This give and take has a rhythm to it – it is actually something that is pleasant to see – compared to what we see at home where people will speed up to not allow someone to merge or who crowd other drivers out in their insistence to be first. Haitians seem to understand that we’ll all get there eventually, so there’s no need to be so self-centered. Perhaps the way they drive is a message to the rest of us on how to do life


  1. Hello my swimming buddy. I am swimming without you but it is not at all the same!!!!!

  2. Hi, Judy. Marianne and I are at Caribou -- talking, drinking coffee!, laughing, and reading your blog! We hope you are feeling better/well; we know you are doing good work. Anything we can do to help you? We will channel lemon-drop martinis, if that would help. And, remember, no matter how difficult your situation is, you are not teaching!
    Julia and Marianne