July 2nd began bright and early. We left at 4:00AM to head to the airport for out 7:00 AM flight to Fort Lauderdale followed by the flight to Haiti. On the flight from Florida to Haiti I received an upgrade to 1st class for the first time. Kind of ironic now that I think about it. Sitting in luxury as I head to my first visit to a 3rd world country.
Around 4:00PM we arrived in Port Au Prince and slowly but surely made it through customs. They require all visitors to pay a $10 tourism fee upon entering. This fee gets put into a desk drawer and you are given a receipt stating that you paid the fee to give to the customs officer. Where this $10 goes once it leaves that wooden drawer no one knows. Once we made it down to baggage claim I was overwhelmed with the number of people all around. Missions groups, natives returning home, and locals trying to earn a couple of dollars crowded the area. Luckily, a man named Murphy and his daughter had not only done this before but were also coincidentally staying at the same house we were staying at, so they helped us out a lot. After retrieving our personal bags as well as the 10 duffle bags we packed with wish list items from We Care Haiti, we met up with our host and squeezed through the crowd to the parking lot.
There were people EVERYWHERE!! I have never seen anything like it. I am not quite sure what they were all doing other than just standing around and watching, but it was definitely a sight to be seen. We finally got into the vehicles and headed to Bon Repos, north of Port Au Prince, to the “Guest House” belonging to the We Care Haiti organization. As we turned the corner onto the highway, my eyes were opened instantly to what I was going to be dealing with for the next week. There is no sugar coating or rose colored glasses in Haiti. What you see is what you get. Once again, there were people everywhere. Thousands of Haitians standing in the median, on the sidewalk, and in the street. Piles of used clothes, shoes, mangoes, and what we would consider trash all along the street being sold by the locals. Public transportation is by means of small pickup trucks, colorfully decorated, and stuffed full of people. These trucks are called “tap taps” due to the tapping on the side of truck done by a rider who needs off at the next stop. Not only were people stuffed into the trucks, but I also so goats tied to the sides, stunned cows lying in the truck bed, and bags of goods piled on the roofs, sometimes with people sitting on top.
Here are a few pictures showing a small view of what I am talking about.
We finally arrived at the Guest House after 30 minutes of what should have been the scariest car ride of my life (explanation in a later post). We unloaded and had dinner. Each time we ate we had to sing for our dinner. I now know 3 worship songs in Creole, and probably could not forget them even if I wanted to. We are also told that coffee will be brewed and ready by 6AM, so I am good to go. We shower and head exhaustingly to bed to rest up for what will be an eventful and blessed first day in the mission field.
The Guest House in Bon Repos, and the view from the balcony. At night you could see the lights from Port Au Prince.
Oh…one last thing. Something that may just be the most miraculous fact of our trip. 28 people…2 showers…no waits longer than 5 minutes to shower. Now THAT is a miracle.