Monday, August 25, 2014

Travel and First Day in Port au Prince

Team Journal 1 
By Stephen H. 

August 11&12
It's about eleven thirty in the morning when the first group members arrive at Jarin’s place. Suitcases and bags are soon loaded into two vehicles and by noon we are on our way. After an hour border delay and some slow traffic as we approach the city, we arrive at the Seattle Tacoma International Airport. 

Checking our flight schedule we notice that we have a short layover in Phoenix before flying on to Miami and then Port au Prince. 

The first flight goes well but once we deplane in Phoenix there is some confusion about where to go next. It first takes a little time to figure out we have to be in terminal B. Then, it looks as if the entrance to terminal B is closed. It takes a little more time to discover we have to pass through terminal A to get to terminal B! Just then we hear the announcement that our gate is closing in three minutes! We break into a run. Jake – out of breath – is the first one to arrive at the gate. When asked if those who are still coming are not 'old and slow', Jake can fortunately confirm that that is not the case! 

After a long, red eye flight to Miami, we meet up with Stephan who flew directly from Grand Rapids. The final flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince is the shortest. 

We touch down on Haiti's largest international airport and are immediately enveloped in a wet blanket of humidity. After paying the $10 tourist fee, we see Jason Krul, our host, waiting for us. Leaving the safe confines of the airport, the differences between North America and Haiti are quickly noticeable; scores of baggage handlers and taxi drivers insistently offer their services. Saying that the roads in Haiti need some work is an understatement! Most of them are unpaved, riddled with potholes, and covered with loose rocks and putrid garbage. Traffic rules appear to be non-existent; using both lanes, numerous taxis, motorbikes and colourful tap-taps swerve around each other. Many vehicles are dangerously close to falling apart, but are nevertheless packed with people. Almost all your basic necessities are available for purchase from street vendors who either balance their goods on their heads, or display them on the sidewalks. 

When we arrive at the Krul's residence we meet Will, Jason's wife, their three little sons, and Lydia, another Chilliwack resident. After depositing our bags we head up to the Baptist Mission for lunch. Most of us stick to a burger and fries. The wait time is rather long, but Jason patiently answers all our questions and so the time flies by. 

The adjacent museum gives a bit of the history of Port-au-Prince, and the small petting zoo boasts some rabbits, pigeons, peacocks and one tiny alligator. 

Back at the Krul's home we enjoy a spaghetti dinner. After dinner Jason shows us some pictures and videos about his work with MAF. An hour later the girls settle in the guest room and the guys arrange their mattresses on the living room floor. With the change in time zones and the long over night flight it doesn't take long before we are all fast asleep. 

A few pictures. 

First glimpses of Port au Prince.

Walking to the waiting taxi.

Loading the suitcases.

View from the Lookout.

View from the Baptist Mission.

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