Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 17 in Pictures

6:44 a.m.
The sun is just barely rising over the capital city as Jason zigzags the Toyota over the narrow, dirt roads. Since today is an uncharacteristically slow day on the MAF flight schedule, I have the privilege of joining my husband and two other pilots for a flight up north to pick up some mission cargo. Since the cargo isn't scheduled to arrive till sometime this afternoon and there are no other flights on the board, it is a perfect opportunity for us to explore a little of Haiti's north coast.

No time like the present to start documenting this special day; my camera firmly in hand, I focus and snap as the sun beautifully illuminates the coconut trees.

Fifteen minutes later we're safely at the airport. Pilots often joke that the most dangerous part of their job is driving to the airport, and in Haiti that is probably more true than most places.

We quickly head through security, fill out a manifest and then step out through the glass doors onto the tarmac.

Feeling a slight breeze on my skin I stop for a moment and close my eyes. I love airplanes, and airports and I take a moment now to simply soak in the ambiance of this place. Looking up I admire the cloudless, blue sky; it's a perfect day for flying!

As Jason, Bernard and Michael, ready the Cessna 207 for takeoff, I spend a little time exploring the old relics in the airport graveyard. How did this fire truck tip exactly?

In the graveyard I also find the remains of two Air Haiti airplanes.

When I question Bernard, always a good source of information, he tells me that in their glory days they were part of a fleet of several aircraft that flew around the clock transporting cargo in the Caribbean.

After Duvalier, a former dictator,  was exiled, several in his government who were major shareholders in Air Haiti forced the company to be shut down. Years later, an Israeli museum made a deal to purchase the planes and as part of the process removed the wings and other components. The deal later fell through, thanks to some other government official, and there they now sit; hundreds of thousands of dollars slowly disintegrating into nothingness.

By 7:40 a.m. we're ready to go. After taxing to the active runway Jason executes a smooth takeoff.



and away.

Over the mountains,

through the valleys,

and past tiny mountain villages, we go.

Crossing over a mountain range I admire the cloud layer beneath us.

Their white billowy shapes, remind me of hundreds of fuzzy sheep.

Nearing Cap Haitian we pass the famous Citadel. The massive stone structure was built by up to 20,000 workers between 1805 and 1820 as part of a system of fortifications designed to keep the newly-independent nation of Haiti safe from French incursions. Comissioned by Henri Christophe, it is the largest fortress in the Americas.

A little later, the Cap Haitian airport is in sight and we make our descent. As we come in for landing, I photograph the Cessna's shadow on the runway.

Since the cargo won't arrive for several more hours, Bernard calls a friend of his who agrees to loan us his driver. Heading through the bustling town, I can't help but notice all the garbage and filth everywhere.

Leaving the city behind we head up into the mountains towards the coast.

We stop at the cruise port, and step into a different world. As we wait on the dock to board a friend's boat, I admire the brightly painted water taxis.

My gaze shifts to the bottom of a cliff where fisherman are organizing  their nets.

A little further up a man in a kayak paddles off.

Up ahead a beautiful cruise ships is anchored and passengers disembark.

We skim over the water until we reach Amiga Island.

Once we've dropped anchor, we take the ten minute walk around the island. Then we snorkel to some giant submerged cannons and pick up sand dollars and sea urchins off the ocean floor.

A few hours later we're back at the cruise port. After grabbing a quick lunch, we take a ride on the zip line and roller coaster. Are we really in Haiti?

Outside the cruise port we are quickly reminded that yes, we are in Haiti, as we watch a motorist tie two mattresses to the back of his bike.

Back at the airport the MAF airplane is exactly where we left her, patiently awaiting our return.

The missionary cargo has meanwhile arrived and is now carefully loaded in.

Flying back I admire the luminous cloud formations.

Flying through the clouds makes me think of heaven. Revelations 21: 18 says this about heaven; the city was pure gold, like clear glass. Although I can't exactly wrap my mind around what that will look like I know it's going to be even more beautiful than these amazing clouds.

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