Haiti. Part four.

Posted: August 24, 2010 in Haiti Mission Trip

Thursday morning we woke up finding that the days were passing by just too fast. Everything was so eventful that it seemed to all blend together in one big memory melting pot. Everyone had their own stories of what had already happened so far and we all were excited about the things to come. At the top of our list was the tour of the city we would be taking Thursday.

Into the bus we piled after the morning motions and we backed out of the impossibly-too-small-for-a-bus driveway that led out of the orphanage and on to the streets of Port-au-Prince. Scenery was everything this bus ride so everyone had their cameras out and were taking pictures of the streets, vendors, crowded walkways and intersection, and of the general local life. People sold water in tiny bags that held just more than a mouthful. How much they were selling these for I don’t know. But it would have probably been more for Americans. Everything was. People sold fruit, clothes, shoes, trinkets, wooden statues, vegetables, radios, and car parts. It was amazing at how many stores had the name “Jesus” or “Christ” to better market their wares. I don’t think anyone could ever know how many of those stores were actually Christian owned.

There were barber shops everywhere. I saw one that was no more than a tarp slung over a barber’s chair and mirror. But there was his sign proudly displaying his hair cutting prowess. I shook my head. I doubt that man had ever cut hair in his life before he became a barber. In fact, this may be his first day. He needed money because whatever he was selling before didn’t get him enough so he took a part-time job as a self-employed barber with on the job learning experience. To the expense of whoever’s hair he was cutting no doubt.

I kept looking for the scenery to change. I kept looking for nicer buildings as we got closer to the capital, or maybe a pleasant house or hotel. There was none. It didn’t look any different from the outside of town that we lived in the orphanage. In fact, it looked worse. The earthquake destruction was much more prevalent here. Buildings complete collapsed on themselves frequented the streets. You could still see some of the inside infrastructure standing as the outside just crumbled. One house we saw a steel staircase still spiraling upward while the walls of the house were in ruins. It put tears in your eyes to think of everybody’s loved ones who were and are still trapped under those millions of tons of concrete. Some people were digging for something inside the rubble of a house, but our bus passed on before they found whatever they were looking for. They probably still haven’t found it.

I almost felt guilty. Here we were, American in their country passing by inside a bus taking pictures of these people’s old homes that were graves for their family and friends like it was some alternate reality. I put myself in their shoes and found myself almost angry at what we were doing. This wasn’t a tourist destination. This was total devastation. To take pictures of it like we were at some amusement park was sick. Of course, this wasn’t the reason we were doing such. But how would they know? To them, we were just more white rubberneckers making light out of these poor people’s incredible sorrow.

We stopped at a souvenir shop to buy stuff for home. I was disappointed with the selection that I saw. I thought we would be going to some place authentic and buy what Haitians bought. The place we went to was designed for people like us. We were falling into the mold that is what makes the mindset against Americans in other countries. I wanted to be a part of their culture. Not feed the ideal of what we are.

People bought what they wanted after a fair deal of haggling and bartering which is one thing I miss while back over here in the states, and then piled back on the bus a little more crowded than it already was because of all the stuff. We drove past the harbor and the vegetable market on our way through Port-au-Prince. The unwanted vegetables were simply discarded or left in front of all the shops and produced a disgusting odor.

This, mixed with diesel fumes, and the heat was an ungodly concoction that had us all scrunching our faces with disgust. How did people live like this? Did they think this was normal? Or is this normal and we are the ones who live with a false sense of what is acceptable? Hard question to answer.

I took a nap on our way out to the beach that we were going to. I was pretty tired and the rhythmic rumble of the bus and occasional massive bump was all I needed to fall asleep. I woke up later and we still were driving, I must have not of slept for very long. We stopped at a gas station and got sodas and bread to eat. The bread was really good. And the Coke. Oh my goodness. Nothing was ever so joyous.

When we arrived at the beach we found that the place we wanted to go to was going to charge us for access into the beach. So we found a public access not too far away where the fare was cheaper. It ended up turning out a whole lot better in my opinion. We all piled out on to the beautiful Haitian coastline. It was a little overcast and had started to rain at first which was a bummer. There was also a little confusion about where to change. Apparently our idea of decency is different from the Haitian’s. After all was figured out a group of people went out snorkeling. I was part of that group. It was my first time doing such and I was pretty excited. The reef was amazing. They took us out in small rowboats that looked a lot like the ones used to transport us across the lake on Monday. Even the oars looked the same. There was coral everywhere. At places the reef almost came up out of the water. It was about ten to fifteen feet deep depending on where you were. The snorkeling was a blast. No sharks though… disappointing.

What was the best part about the whole thing though was the view. It was gorgeous. The mountains came right down into the sea on our right looking out into the water along the whole coastline. It looked like a landscape out of some serene movie or postcard. But here we were living it! Many pictures were taken. It was one of the best nights that we were there.

On the way back the sunset was to our backs and the golden glow of the sun splashed over the mountain sides. How did a place this beautiful end up in the state that it is in right now? A double rainbow appeared on the horizon right over the mountain so it looked like some colorful volcano erupting in the evening sky. Could this evening get any better? Doubt it. I sat in the solitude of my bus seat listening to the hum of the engine and amazed at the greatness of God.

Night came and on our way home could see lights that looked like they were hovering in mid-air because they were on mountainsides. When we rolled into the dark courtyard of the orphanage, we went to bed with a new sense of wonder for our Creator.


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