Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Village Visit (part I)

Saturday, August 21, 5:40 a.m., Port au Prince

“Mom?” Already awake I watch as the bedroom door is hesitantly pushed open and a small figure appears. Even in the gray dawn I can see him, clutching spotty dog in one hand and his blanket in the other.

I close my eyes as he tiptoes quietly to my side of the bed.

“Is it time to wake up Mom?” He whispers in my ear.

I open my eyes and look up into big blue eyes, inquisitively peering down at me. Yawning and stretching I smile up at his sweet face.

“I think it’s a little early, but we’re going to the village today so it doesn’t hurt to get a head start.” I whisper back.

“Okay Mom.”

Easing out of bed I quickly change into the clothes I laid out the night before and then get my toiletries ready. Slipping them in the previously packed backpack I make my way to Jayden’s room to help him get changed. His Thomas backpack is already packed too.

Once he is dressed we both head to the kitchen. Mixing up pancake batter I quickly ready three plates for breakfast. The aroma of fresh pancakes is enough to draw Jason out of bed and minutes later we sit down to enjoy them.

At 6:30 on the dot we pick up our backpacks and head down the stairs to the truck.

Early morning sun filters through the towering trees that surround our home as turtle doves coo in the branches. Away from the busy streets our home is a haven of peace and quiet. Driving towards the main road the peace and quiet is quickly replaced by honking horns and shouting vendors. We make a quick stop to pick up Matt and then we’re on Delmas.

Even this early, the main road is a beehive of activity. We watch curiously as a fight breaks out around a tap tap. A teenage boy leans down to pick up a piece of rubble and aims it at another man. Yelling and shouting, others try to intervene.

“Maybe someone didn’t want to pay the tap tap fare.” Jason muses.

“Who knows?” I reply.

The main road turns into broken pavement and wet gravel. As the truck sloshes its way through, it accidentally splashes another truck with its windows open. “Hey,” the man yells angrily shaking his fist. Oops, better be more careful around the puddles. We send him an apologetic wave and carry on.

Looking through the window I marvel how normal all this has become; the garbage littering the streets, the crowds of people, the vendors, the smells, the bumpy roads.

At what moment in time did what once was so foreign become so familiar? I wonder.

Fifteen minutes later we arrive at the international terminal to drop off Matt. After a three month internship with MAF it’s time for him to return home to Canada. Baggage handlers jostle each other in attempts to grab his one suitcase and backpack but Matt keeps a firm grip on them. We wave goodbye and then head back to the domestic terminal.

Locking the truck we dodge puddles as we make our way to the airport entrance. Dropping our backpacks on the X-ray scanner we head through the metal detector. Since in all the times I’ve gone to the airport I’ve never heard it go off I’m almost positive it’s malfunctioning. “At least it looks good,” I remind myself.

Curious stares are cast in our direction as we make our way to the main office. Although “Blan” (white people) are fairly common in Haiti with the influx of relief and work teams, “ti blan” (little white kids) are not. Oblivious to the stares Jayden walks behind me, proudly carrying his Thomas backpack.

At the front office a manifest is filled out and Jayden and I are weighed on a big scale. Jayden thinks this is great fun and watches in delight as our backpacks are weighed as well. With the manifest filled out we head through the main airport doors onto the tarmac.

The airplane is waiting, and as Jason completes the checklists I help Jayden get in and fasten his seat belt. Ten minutes later we taxi to the active runway. Taking off I look across at the bright blue sky and the mountains in the distance. Even with her poverty and filth, Haiti still is a beautiful place.

25 minutes later, Pignon’s airstrip comes in sight. Holding Jayden’s hand in preparation for a bumpy landing on the grass airstrip I soak in the green. Rainy season always changes the village from brown to green and l love how fertile it looks.

Pulling to a stop at the side of the runway, Jason helps us get out and unloads are bags. Boaz opens the gate and Pastor Caleb and Debbie walk in to greet us. It’s nice to see them again after almost a year. Jason still has more flights to do before joining us, so we bid him goodbye.

Roosters crow and hens cackle as we make our way through the familiar gates.

We make the short drive to Pastor Caleb’s house where we are met be Esther who Jason had dropped off the afternoon before.

After our second pancake breakfast we get ready to hit the local market to buy food for the food distribution planned for the afternoon.


  1. That looks familiar... :-) Looking forward to hear more about your visit! Love, Mary

  2. Thanks for Part 1.