For the River Stone Community Church Haiti Team Part 2, the day began before some folks even went to bed. Most of the team tried to catch a few hours of sleep before our 1 a.m. departure from San Marcos. The drive to Houston was effortless; of course I was snoozing in the back seat. We were checked in; boarding passes in hand by 4:15 a.m. Fortunately, Starbucks opened around that time. No coffee for me, instead a nutritious, if not exactly delicious, orange mango smoothie. The flight from Houston was packed, but took off right on time. Most of us slept through the 2.5 hour flight, waking only to accept a beverage from the flight attendants. The Miami Airport, dull and dreary looking, was bustling with people. Though only 9 a.m. Texas time, we were HUNGRY!!!! Being a compulsive planner, I had already perused the internet in search of suitable dining, days before our departure. My heart was set on a Cuban sandwich, just like my grandfather used to make. With the help of a little technology (envision the team camped out in the walkway, laptop open searching airport schematics) we found the little Cuban café, ah, sweet success. Our hunger properly abated we were ready for the final leg of our journey. Seated in Row 7, directly behind First Class, our seats were the best, where leg room is abundant.
Deplaning in Haiti was odd. We expected to deplane directly on the tarmac but instead exited the plane like any normal flight, through the jet way. Winding through the airport, with no bathrooms in sight, we expected to land in customs. Instead we were ushered back out of the terminal and onto a bus. From the bus we reentered the airport, headed through customs and waited for our bags. The Port Au Price Airport has two luggage carousels, side by side. Watching the handlers throw the suitcases was frightening, bags landed on top of each other, and on the floor. It was pure chaos in motion. Though we’d been warned of the difficulty securing our bags, we experienced no problems.
After a brief stop at our hotel to freshen up, not that it helped any with no air conditioning and 100 degree heat, we headed to the orphanage. The only room on my tour today was the toddler room. As I stood just outside the doorway a precious little boy came running directly towards me arms raised. I scooped him up in a big hug and was then “attacked” by all of his playmates. It was sheer joy sitting on the floor with three or four little Haitian toddlers climbing all over me. Singing, “Old McDonald” with the kids brought a delightful surprise; “EI EI O” sounds the same in both English and Creole.
The first part of the team, in place since Monday, has bonded well with the new arrivals. We feel cohesive, one unit, not than “them” and “us”. There is much more I could share, but my eye lids grow heavy and the mosquitoes grow thick, so, farewell from Haiti.