I wrote this last night...
I think it’s so interesting to travel nowadays. I realize I am only 29 years old, but the reality is that I have been travelling internationally for over 13 years. In those 13 years the world has seen a significant change in technology and has given many, many ways to stay connected to one another. And, even though I’m typing out this blog post in a word document on my computer because the internet isn’t working at the moment, the fact that I am in a different country, one called a “third world” nonetheless, and able to communicate with family and friends is no less impressive to me.
Today has been a great day. I woke up super early this morning and my lovely roommate, brought me to the airport bright and early. She dropped me off at 6:30am and my journey began. I had three suitcases to check, one to carry on, and my “personal item” which was packed to overflowing! I know the luggage was probably overweight, but the sweet lady at the American Airlines counter let my 12 lbs of overages pass, AND even told me to stick some stuff from my carryon into my suitcase that still had space but weighed a lot…All in all, not a bad experience at the American Airlines counter. After schlepping all my stuff through the O’Hare airport and boarding my plane, I was delivered to the Miami International Airport. While I realize the changing world around me, there’s something to be said for the comfort of things that stay the same. I feel that was at the MIA airport. It’s always cold and you can always count on that voice over the speaker to tell what time it is E V E R Y F I F T E E N M I N U T E S….not a quick way to pass the time, and luckily I only had to be updated on the time 6 times on this layover.
I also love that most times when you walk up to your gate in MIA to Port Au Prince there’s a little part of you that already feels like you’re in Haiti. There’s always the teams in matching t-shirts…often times I’m a member of one of these groups, much to my chagrin, but watching team dynamics never ceases to entertain me…even when I’m one of the people causing entertaining team dynamics. There’s also always a handful or two of people with the zip-off pants…you know the ones I talking about…the ones that turn into shorts. Some day I’m hoping to witness someone get off the plane in PAP and whip off the bottom half of their pants…I won’t lie, today I was wishing my blue jeans zipped off into shorts! It was a balmy, sunny, 96ish degrees when I stepped foot into PAP. There’s always families trying to travel with a TON of luggage returning home, and there’s often times a few people that look like they are stuck somewhere between confused and terrified at the prospect of the flight they’re about to take, and a few ladies and men dressed in Sunday finest for their flight, making me feel like a complete scrub in my blue jeans, non-descript grey t-shirt and Birkenstocks. Then there’s the flight to PAP…people trying to find seats, baggage not fitting in overhead compartments, announcements in English and Kreyol, the beverage service and snack packet with spreadable cheese, cold raisins, and the Toblerone. Then there’s the landing, looking out the window on PAP…seeing the concrete; grey concrete scattering out over the hills, now interspersed with blue, grey and white tarps and tents that so many people call home. The crazy jockeying for position at the baggage claim trying lug all the ridiculously heavy bags off the conveyor belts that sometimes work well and sometimes cause too many problems…The men all trying to help you, hoping for the big tip of the day; money to take home to their families, or maybe for other pursuits, and hoping to spot your driver and keep from having to tell too many people “No Mesi” “No thanks” “I don’t need help” “My ride is coming.”
Today the man picking me up was a man I never met before. I was so excited to see a sign with my guesthouse on it, that I jumped at the opportunity to get in his car, until I realized I should check out the situation a little more before getting in the car with someone I didn’t know, who didn’t speak the same language as me. I used my extremely minimal Kreyol skills to ask questions about people he would know if he was indeed the person I was supposed to get in the car with. When he, and his story, checked out with me, we headed off…turns out he is the brother of the woman I will be working with, a wonderfully nice man, deserving a prize for helping me lug my 200 lbs of luggage up to my room.
So, I’m here…It’s hot. It feels like home. The lights are out and the generators aren’t working…I know, because the fans aren’t running. I can hear the music from the neighbors and it sounds like someone outside has a cough. In Haiti, you are never away from your neighbors, you are always “outside”, and always very aware of your community…at least in my experience. I’m excited to sleep. I’m hoping the generators come back on and provide a little bit of fan time for me as I fall asleep, and I’m hoping don’t sweat through my mattress…gross I know…but this is my new reality!
Sorry the post is so long tonight. If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. I have a few days to relax, and then the real work begins! I couldn’t be more excited!