(From Kara Groetken)
Today we arrived in Haiti. The airport was not as chaotic as we thought it would be. There were two small rooms one for customs and one for baggage claim. The baggage claim was a three foot long conveyer belt through a hole in the wall. One of our bags didn’t show so we are hoping it will arrive tomorrow with the next flight. This definitely showed us that we will have to be flexible and keep on keeping on with whatever happens! We were thankful we packed most of our belongings in our carry-ons, especially because some of our traveling companions had none of their luggage arrive at all. Mom is most thankful for DEET! (the others got theirs confiscated on the way to Haiti)
After getting all the luggage situated we ventured out of the airport following the loud Creole voices that were carrying our bags. We watched as they threw bags onto the roof of a large van and were yelling back and forth to each other. One cute little old man stood in front of our door yanking at our heart strings as we took off for the hotel.
The driving in Haiti is somewhat like it was in Turks: no limits. They do drive on the same side as we do in the US however! Everywhere you look there is something interesting to see. Whether it be a truck with over ten people pouring out of it or the auto repair shop on the side of the road. Auto repair is definitely not like what you would think. Men just sit and wait by their tires and air pumps for their business, almost like a Nascar pitstop. We were fortunate enough to experience this pit stop. Our tire had gone flat and these men changed it all the while our whole team was in the car. I don’t know about you, but when I change a tire, no one is in the car much less a whole van full of people. Pretty impressive!
Next stop, Citadelle Laferriere, and what an adventure that was! We were instantly swarmed by the villagers when we finally made it to the top. Tapping on our windows and trying to get our attention in any way that they could. Gladdis really wanted mom to buy those necklaces!! Finally the tour guide helped us make our way to the donkeys (or horses). We rode them to the top of the mountain and we were guided by two or three men. The boys that were guiding our donkeys were a hoot, their names were Jimmy, John, and Wilbur and mom’s were Evens, Wilfred, and Jack. What a way to go up a mountain! That took a lot of trust knowing you weren’t going to fall off the edge while riding a donkey you had no control over. Especially on the way down!!
We toured the Citadelle and it was absolutely beautiful!! The cliffs were amazing. Crazy, so much effort was put into building something for an event that never even occurred because the French didn’t show up.
On our way back to the hotel our guide stopped at a local bakery (obviously I was intrigued!) We thought we would live life on the edge and try a pâtépoulle and viende (chicken and beef). In a few days we will let you know if that was a good idea. The cakes inside the store caught my eye, they were beautifully decorated with buttercream, it was exciting to see that cakes are part of their culture as well! (I love to bake if anyone didn’t know!)
When we returned to the hotel we had dinner and started to discuss what tomorrow would entail. Each person was told what station they would be at and what they would be doing. We met two new people who would be helping with our mission to improve eye sight. They have a prototype of an instrument that will hopefully improve remote eye care! How exciting! As we prepared for what tomorrow would be like, this all started to become more real to us. Looking forward to what tomorrow has in store! Goodnight world!