June Haiti Trip (as told by Kristin Egan)
It is 9:00 and I finally have time to send off an email. What an amazing day. We left Miami early this morning having had about 2 hours of sleep and arrived in Port au Prince around 8:00am. Obviously, the first thing we noticed was the heat. Ben called it heavy heat. That is certainly accurate. Ben also said he has never sweated so much in his life. Welcome to Haiti! Fortunately all of our bags arrived with us and fortunately there was someone there to pick us up. A guy named “Big” who’s description fits his name. He had a “posse” that helped us battle our way through all the guys outside trying to grab our bags. We piled in 3 vehicles and made our way on to the crazy, crowded Haitian roads.
Haitians drive like maniacs. Not like the stateside maniacs you all know and hate. I’m talking high speeds, stop and go traffic, inches between vehicles and going every direction on the same road. Not to mention thousands of people walking in and out of the traffic, motorcycles with 4 passengers and potholes you could loose a small child in. Traveling a distance of 15 miles can take hours. It did.
Not to mention we got lost and couldn’t find our lodging for several sweltering hours. We did get to see a good deal of people and some pretty dumpy areas of Haiti. People watching in Haiti is insanely interesting. I don’t know how to explain it. Beautiful children carrying their wares on their heads, industrious men and women who walk the streets, vendors who set up shop on little tables, old tires, hubcaps, buckets, tiny shops. There is a hustle and bustle on the streets of Haiti. I saw a man who was welding a under a truck. He finished, the guy paid him and drove off. On to the next car. So many businesses, so many people. It’s amazing!
The guest house where we are staying is wonderful. Fully walled in with a security guy with a shotgun at the gate. On the grounds is also an orphanage and a school. They have 15 special needs kids along with a hundred and something more. The special kids sit out under a big mango tree during the day. Some are in wheel chairs some in little cribs. They have two children who are hydrocephalic and all sorts of other special kids. Ben had a sweet moment with a little guy who might be autistic. Ben had him smiling and giggling.
The other children are educated on site or sent into town to go to school. They have little outdoor schools. The children also raise and care for rabbits, whose poop is fed to the tilapia in their tilapia farm, whose old, dirty water is used to fertilize the garden, which feeds everyone. Pretty cool. All in all it is a pretty nice place. They feed us 2 meals a day, we stay in dorm style rooms and have a bathroom. So what if the mosquitos are bad and we have no warm water. Right? Right.
After settling in we went on another wild ride through Haiti. This time we were heading to Matt & Gabe’s old orphanage. We went through some pretty tough areas. Signs of the quake are everywhere. Tents all over, crumbling buildings, trash and debris. (There was trash all over before the quake). It is amazing how many people are displaced.