We set out this morning from Hamilton nice and early at 2am to start our adventure, we drove from Hamilton down to Buffalo, and flew to JFK in New York to meet up with some of our team members. From there we flew down to Port-au-Prince,where we got our first taste of Haitian life. We could literally throw a stone to the next airport where we were to transfer planes, but the crowded and crumbling streets made traffic ridiculous. Between dogging other cars, buying refreshing Gatorade from Cole’s friend and trying to avoid the massive crowds it took us more then 20 minutes to travel a couple blocks.
Once we arrived at the second airport to take a short little flight to our final destination, we met up with two other members. We were told it would be just a few minutes until the final member of our group would arrive. We got off the bus and immediately noticed the simplicity of the Haitian airport compared to our North American standards; the one door on the back wall that was both the departure and arrival gate, the one check in desk for the 5 airlines you could fly with, and the fact that we could inform our pilot when we were ready to take off is quite different then any major airport in North America to say the least. After 3 and a half hours of snacking, talking, and people watching we were told due to many delays that our team would be meeting our final member the next day. When we were informed about this we gave our pilot the heads up that we were ready to go, and packed our plane full of luggage, donations, and our team members.
Traveling through the clouds above Haiti was incredible. Getting to see all the mountains and landscape was beautiful but eye opening compared to the deforestation happening so close by. Port-au-Prince to Cap Haitien was only about 45 minutes, where we truly got our first real look at poverty. On our way out to the bus that was to take us to our hotel, there were people hoping for some sort of handout. The trip from the airport to the hotel was the first glimpse of everyday life in Cap Haitien. Even something simple like driving over a bridge and looking down, seeing the reflections in the black mucky water that people bath and swim in really showed us how great the need is in this city.
We got to our hotel and settled in, had a delicious supper, hung out, and talked about whats ahead got us really excited for the days to come.
Chad Dalley and Liz Dorey