Friday, July 2, 2010

Haiti Trip - June 29 2010 part 2

Hot and humid! Actually the heat is not he big problem, but the humidity is. Reminds me of the Philippines. When we arrive3d in Port Au Prince we went through customs, and easy process and then we stood around the baggage area waiting for our bags. It took some time to get them but the airport staff was very helpful. The airport itself is nothing more than a large metal building. (Later we would see another building driving out that I can only assume was the real airport but damaged by the earthquake). It was hot, humid and crowded.

After getting bags and going through claims we ended up standing in a group waiting for what was to come next. We had several guys wanting to help us carry our luggage and one even claimed to be acting on behalf of HCM (Haitian Christian Mission). (Wendy had told me that the person picking us up would be wearing yellow and have the mission name on him. Louie asked this guy claiming to be working on their behalf what the name of the guy who sent him was. Of course he could not tell us). One guy let us use his cell phone to call and we were able to get through to Betty Prophete (Louie tried using his but it wouldn't connect even though he was supposed to have service). She said to wait where we were and send someone out to find the guy who was picking us up. It took a couple of tries sending first Ken out and then Tom and Ken all the while having individuals try to help us. All of it was for money of course.

Tom and Ken finally found him, Daulas, the head of the translaters here at HCM. He brought a pastor with him to help us out. Of course we had more help then we needed. What a fiasco! (Even though certain people were chosen to help others continually tried to get in on the action so that we would feel obligated to pay them). Everyone wanted money. People walked along side of us on the other side of the fence calling “sister” or “brother” and saying “give me money” and “I am hungry.”

After everything was loaded I was surrounded by the men that helped saying “boss” with their hands out. The pastor had me hop in the car. We had to fit luggage and 14 people in two vehicles. Once we were all in we started off through Port Au Prince.

Poverty is the word that sticks out. There was a lot of people who looked like they weren't doing much. Those who were doing something either seemed to be driving the “tap taps” or trying to sell things on the side of the road. Fruit, food, TVs, everything you can imagine.

The ride was much like in the Philippines. Aggressive driving and laying on the horn.

There was evidence of the quake all around. A lot of rubble and garbage. There was also evidence of reconstruction. We saw several tent cities along the way.

We also saw goats and cattle all over the place. The cattle along the route were very gaunt with ribs showing even though there was green all around.

After a long ride we arrived at the mission, fenced and gated. Betty Prophette and her son Edwins greeted us. I also got to meet Wendy the woman from the states who organizes the trips. We were warmly received.

We are staying in a guest house that is over a clinic which we got to tour. Very...primitive, for a lack of a better word. We will most likely be sleeping on the deck even though there are rooms available. It is much cooler outside then in. (Actually, most everyone is sleeping on the roof where there is a strong breeze. I am sleeping in a room with a fan being that it is hard for me to sleep on the thin mats).

After lunch, hotdogs, and a short rest Kati, Lisa and I went for a walk in the community. Little make shift shops line the road. Garbage, animals, little kids (some naked) and a lot of people are everywhere.

It is weird being on the other side of looks and stares. At first people seem unfriendly, but I think that is mostly unfamiliarity (I found out later that people don't smile unless there is something funny to smile about. What I took as unfriendliness is just a cultural thing.) A wave, greeting and smile usually gets a response back.

I met a little girl named Rufny. Right away she began to do the whole trading language thing. She would point at a part of her body and tell me its name in Creole and then I would tell her in English.

Oh, on our drive we may have seen people gathering for a voodoo ceremony. Everyone was dressed in while. From what I have read and viewed online there are ceremonies to certain lua (spirits) that prefer white. Don't know for sure, but if fit the descriptions. We also saw a funeral procession. Everyone dressed in black and white.

Brandon and Kati on top of the mission cooling off.

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