Matt and I were talking the day we traveled back to Haiti and thought it might make a fun blog so here goes. We traveled back last Saturday, January 3. I woke up at 3:00am making sure to give myself plenty of time to take the last hot shower for quite a while. Matt got up soon after me to start carrying down our six 70 pound bags to the car. We are now living in an apartment on the second floor so he has to carry them downstairs then cross the parking lot and put them in the car. I blow dry and straighten my hair for the last time even though the minute we land in Haiti it will go up. It just feels good to do it one last time. We get ready and walk out the door to meet my parents at about 4:30am. We meet my parents in a parking lot that is convenient so they can leave their car and drive ours to the airport. They drop us off and we hug goodbye. I try every time not to cry so I don’t worry them but it is not easy this time after being home for so long. We go in to check our bags and get our boarding passes. This is always a stressful time because usually our bags weigh more than they should by a pound or 2 so we just pray that we will get a nice lady checking us in (which I have to say does not happen very often with American Airlines) who will let it slide. For maybe the second time ever we do and she barely even looks as they are being weighed. We get our bags and head to the security check where for the first time ever we get to go through Pre-Check! In case you don’t know what this is it means you don’t have to take your shoes off or your laptops out of your bag and you basically just walk right through security. We are so excited you’d think we won the lottery….it’s the little things sometimes that get us the most excited on these kinds of days. We zip through, I get Starbucks one last time and then we board our first plane which is Jacksonville to Miami. In Miami we both get burgers and fries at Wendy’s. We don’t have much time. Our plane to Port au Prince boards at 9:10am.
After sitting on the runway for about an hour we finally take off. We land in Haiti at about 12:45pm. I always look out the window as we take off and as we land and I am always amazed at the difference between Miami and Port au Prince. An hour and a half plane ride and they are two completely different worlds. As you look down at Port au Prince, the poverty immediately hits you. It is very hard to even try to describe unless you have been there and seen it first hand. In the airport, we go through customs pretty quickly then go to wait for our bags. All 6 come out eventually which is always a victory. Now to make it through the baggage customs guys. Most travel days we get our bags situated on a cart only to be stopped by the baggage guys so they can rifle through what we have. Today they let us straight through! (remember I said it’s the little things). We walk out to the parking lot where Julihomme (one of our employees) is waiting for us and as we walk to the truck we are constantly telling various Haitian men that we do not need help with our baggage. We get to the truck and start to make our way out into traffic. The trip from the airport to Christianville has taken as little as 45 minutes and as long as long as 3 hours depending on traffic. We drive past women selling things on the street, hundreds of people living in tents, children without clothes, and lots of other things that are hard to put into words. This is the normal drive through Port au Prince and if you aren’t careful, you can just get used to seeing people living this way. Our drive is uneventful until a guy rear-ends us. Julihomme gets out of our truck and walks back to talk to the guy. Matt and I stay inside and watch as they speak for all of a minute and Julihomme gets back in the car. Julihomme says “Our truck is fine and it was his fault so we are through”. Matt and I laugh and talk about how differently that would have gone down in the States.
We arrive at Christianville at about 2:30 which means we made great time. We bring the bags in and unpack just enough to find a few things then head up to the orphanage. I am always anxious driving up there after being gone. Anxious to see the kids and worried something might be wrong. We pull up and the kids have obviously heard our truck and spotted it from far off. We are greeted with kids running at us, jumping on us, hugging, and screaming. It is pretty much the best thing in the world. We hang out there for about an hour. Just long enough to see the kids and make sure everything is ok which it is. We head back to Christianville to eat dinner with some new friends living on campus who invited us over thankfully or we would have been very hungry! We come back home at about 7:30pm and try out our new “Camp Shower” bags a fantastic cousin of mine told me about. You fill them with water and leave them in the sun and it heats the water (water here is cold and very very cold this time of year). The water is warm and feels so good!! This isn’t a little thing to get excited about but a big one. This means that although it will be a pain to fill the bag everyday and bring it in and out, we will have warm showers at night!!
Every time we leave Haiti to go back to The States we pack the whole house up into boxes so things don’t get dusty or animals can’t get to them so after showering I go to work trying to get the house back in order. This will take me the next few days to get everything done because it is a lot. Finally we realize we have been up since 3am and it’s time to quit for the day (Matt has to make me realize this because once I get in this zone it is hard to make me stop). We watch an episode of Parks and Recreation (our show of choice for right now) and sleep really soundly ready to get back in the swing of things the following day.