The flight yesterday from Montreal to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, went very well. It took me about an hour to get through immigration, baggage, and customs amidst much jostling and difficult communication (Je parle un peu Francais – I speak a little French. – though it’s been increasing rapidly). I was told later the hour was quite normal.
After waiting for the person from the mission base to pick me up (an airport worker, seeing me looking lost, offered me to use his cell phone to call my ride at no charge).
The drive to the mission base is something you need to experience to understands. Part obstacle course, part maze, I am grateful it wasn’t a demolition derby. My favourite was driving on the double yellow line as if it was a third lane, dodging scooters with multiple people, taps taps (public transport which are modified covered pickup trucks with side benches, filled to capacity with always room for three more), tractor trailers with their horns blasting, all in both directions.
It was really hot yesterday but hotter today, though so far today I am handling it ok. I am being housed in a very nice apartment. Power is supplied through a combination of city power (hardly ever these days I am told) , generator, and battery power).
I had my first taxi ride today (something I managed to avoid four years ago). A Haitian taxi is a small scooter with a driver for hire. Personal space is almost a non-concept here as I was comfortably squished between the driver and Sarah. Most scooter (though they might be classified as small motorcycles) drivers don’t wear helmets). We zipped along on bumpy city streets zigging and zagging somewhat similar to yesterday’s drive with the wind in my face as I chatted with Sarah behind me and all sorts of sights, sounds, and smell around me.
Can I be honest with you, dear reader? It was fun!!
As we went to the local general store, it was so precious to see how many people know (and love) Sarah as she introduces me to everyone as her Daddy.
As every minute passes, I realize more and more how worlds apart the Canadian and Haitian cultures are. I am supposed to teach tonight at a small community service on the base. Most who are attend are the folks that live on site (Americans, Canadians, and Hatians), though people from the town may come too. What can say to bless them when our lives are so very different? If you are a praying person, you know what to do!
One last thing for now. Last night I was chatting with Sarah about the drive from the airport and what I observed to be extreme recklessness on the part of the drivers. She said part of the reason is that Haitians have no fear. I could get really phylisophical and psychological about that, but whatever is at the root of this, not to mention the fruits, it is such a contrast to myself, who was raise on a constant diet of fear. To close my eyes and picture myself in the midst of all that high-speed, near-miss driving, yet void of fear is so beyond anything I could dream of for yours truly.
But, then again, the scooter ride today was fun!