The journey was nothing quick or efficient from Monterey to Hinche Wednesday and Thursday. First a two hour car ride to SFO, then a six hour flight to Ft. Lauderdale followed by a seven hour lay-over that gave us the unique opportunity to get well acquainted with the airport floor outside security as we got some restless sleep.
But then the long part was over. We had out first introduction to Haiti and its people on the packed-full two hour flight from Florida to Port-au-Prince. The crowd was lively and energetic (especially for 6am) and ti was clear they were all elated to be heading back home.
As we got off the plane a six piece Haitian band greeted us and we breezed through customs to await our bags and our host, Father Noe Bernier. Noe was waiting for us with smiles and hugs and after a quick car wash and engine check, we headed to Hinche.
Along the way we got our introduction to the Haitian landscape, got to know a few Haitian goats, gave a pint-sized hitch hiker a ride home from school, saw the famous Partners In Health Hospital in Cange, and visited the electric plant that provides electricity to the whole central plateau-all before lunch time.
In just a day here at St. Andre’s we have met a lively cast of characters. There is Lacroix, whose friendly demeanor and boyish features become ironic when we find out he is in charge of discipline at the school. Then there is the woman in charge of the small store outside the gates of the school who reigns from her cooler greeting the passersby and serving her costumers ice cold waters, sodas, and beers. Finally, we met Blanc, whose albinism deceived us, causing confusion as I greeted him with a “hello how are you?”. He was not phased though, and hurried off on his moto to exchange our American dollars for Haitian ones.
Dinner was a feast of rice with spicy sauce, Haitian potato casserole, baked chicken and fresh juice. A home cooked meal was just what the doctor ordered after such a long trip.
Now its time to rest. The mix of choir practice and the motos passing in the street is draped in the sound of rain fall, and I am finally feeling myself relax.
Tomorrow starts the work: classroom observations, teacher meetings and more introductions-stay tuned!