Friday, November 16, 2012

Guest Post - Pignon Adventures

Saturday morning began bright and early. Before 7:00 a.m. we were on the road and on route to the domestic airport. Today was the day we planned to fly out to a small village in the central plateau known as Pignon. 

In the terminal MAF staff weighed us and our luggage and we soon find out we were only 9lbs under the weight limit! Whew, that was close! Thankfully we didn’t have to leave anything behind! 

When Jason and crew finished inspecting and loading the aircraft we taxied to the active runway. Minutes later we were in the air. What an amazing view!

From my vantage point in the airplane I could see small houses and huts dotting the mountain sides. How did these people live so far away from civilisation? I wondered.

25 minutes later we landed on Pignons’ grass airstrip. The weather here was much cooler than that in Port au Prince; a welcome change!

After a quick jaunt down the road to the MAF office where we stored our luggage for the day we met up with some young men who were renting out their motorbikes. We split up in pairs and then listened as the drivers of the bikes gave us instructions on how their bikes worked.

Apparently we didn’t quite catch all the basics though! Arnold and Rosalyn were the first ones off.... straight towards the villages’ only tractor!! For some reason Arnold was unable to turn or brake, so he ended up flipping the bike on its side; much to the villager’s amusement. Watching this, the bike’s owner quickly decided it would be much safer to drive Arnold and Rosalyn around for the day. Good idea!

Joel`s first attempt was a bit better than Arnold’s but he did stall the bike several times before we took off. Finally we were on our way and as we headed deeper into town towards the market the road began to slope steeply downward. As we picked up speed Joel suddenly realized he didn`t know where the brakes were! He yelled to the Haitian driver on the other bike but we were going too fast to hear any instructions. Apparently the look on the other drivers face was just priceless as he realized that we couldn`t stop! Thankfully Joel figured out how to shift down allowing the driver to catch up and we found the brakes. What an adventure!

Eventually we reached the village market; all in one piece! 

The market was unlike any other place I had ever seen before. There were many crudely made stalls which sold everything from dead goats and chickens (with free flies) to candies, snacks, fruits, vegetables, toiletries, clothing and shoes!

Jason gave each of us 1500 Haitian goudes (approximately $40USD), so we could help the local economy AND those who couldn`t afford to purchase clothing and shoes.

On our way to the clothing booths, Jason kindly led us directly past the meat department where they had a bowl of deep fried intestines and a butchered goat laying out. Ewww! 

The clothing merchant had quite a variety and our bargaining skills were put to the test!  We were quickly surrounded as ‘blan’ in the local market was quite a spectacle!

Picking through the piles we bartered and paid for about 40-50 articles of children’s clothing. The next stop was the shoe booth. Here we let children in the market pick out shoes and Jason bartered with the ‘mechan’ for the price. What a novelty for many of them to get a pair of shoes that actually fit!

After a final stop to pick up some crackers, cookies and candies we were off again on our motorbikes.

Our next stop was the camp where Jason and Will lived for 3 months during language training. The road to this place was definitely a challenge for inexperienced bikers!! It was quite rough and had some steep and rocky sections. At the bottom of one of the hills was a small creek we had to pass through on our bikes.

On the way we saw oxen, donkeys and more. At the camp many children were waiting for us; as Jason had prearranged. Here we handed out some of the toys we had brought along as well as distributed the clothing purchased earlier. Several ladies from the community had already divided servings of rice in bags that we were able to divide between the children. It was so rewarding to be able to bring a little joy in their lives!

When we were finished we rode the motorbikes back over the bumpy roads to the airport. There we gathered our luggage and waited for pickup by a mission organization called United Christian International.

At their rural location we enjoyed the greenery and fresh air. Quite a difference from Port au Prince!
We settled into our rooms at the guesthouse and ate a quick lunch.

 Then we were off on a hike to visit the voodoo caves.

Our young guide was a little nervous about being there later in the afternoon as the witch doctors did tend to go there as darkness fell. Thankfully the caves were deserted but it did feel a bit creepy!

Back at the mission we were put to work moving some bookshelves around in the new university buildings. When we were finished it was time for an intense volleyball game!

Joined by Kristy and her two daughters as well as some other Haitian students our skills were put to the test!

Once we could no longer see the ball, we headed to the cafeteria for a supper of mashed potatoes, chicken and vegetables. It was definitely not what we had expected but it was very good!!

After supper we joined Pastor JeanJean and Kristy and played Dutch Blitz in doubles. With all of us competitive player it was quite a game!

When the games were over, we wearily walked back to our rooms and settled in for a good night’s rest!

Bryanne Bisschop

1 comment:

  1. Bryanne
    Thanks for the blog and update.
    It does look like you all had a meaningful visit.