Monday, November 15, 2010

Haiti Mission Trip Recap - Saturday

And, finally, we get to the end of the enormously long retelling of my mission trip to Haiti last summer. Well, not exactly the end because the travelling took 2 days and the last day will probably take more than one post, but I can see the end in sight. Happy to return to normal randomness in the near future.

When we left off (too long ago), I was heading to bed on my last night in Jacmel, Haiti and battling the onset of my first real digestive system related illness symptoms.  I have had Irritable Bowel Syndrome most of my life and fear related to it (especially getting sick in a situation where I don't have bathroom access) has been a struggle for me on and off. At it's worst, I became almost agorophobic because of it.  These days, I have a much healthier attitude, and eat in a way that minimizes flare ups, but one of my biggest concerns going into this trip was intestinal disease. And so, the story continues...

Saturday, July 11, 2010
Port-au-Prince Airport

Well, this morning was pretty much my "nightmare scenario", but I handled it (mostly) well.  I was pretty much up all night having diahrea every hour or so.  Around 4am, I thook the initial dose of 2 Imodium when I realized the time for our 4-6 hour road trip to Jacmel was drawing near.  5am, no change at all - 3rd Imodium.  6am, no change - 4th Imodium. 

Luckily, I packed last night.  I ended up leaving about 1/2 of my clothes, and almost everything else (flashlight, poncho, food, bug spray, medicines, flip flops, etc.) for Restoration Ministries to hand out as they see fit.  Patti took my bag down to the vans for me this morning. I was so nauseous that I couldn't stand up straight or even drink water, let alone carry my bag down 3 flights of stairs.  I made it down to the team and let Gary know I was sick.  He, Patti and Gina prayed for healthy travel for me.  They made sure our driver knew I wasn't feeling well and made sure I got to sit in the front seat. The driver and everyone in our van knew I may need to stop. I was equipped with a bottle of water and what was left of the roll of toilet paper from our room.  Jennifer and Reggie rode in my van too (with other people) since they could translate or help out if we needed to stop or if I got worse.  Gary told me to start taking my Cipro antibiotics ASAP. So, antibiotics came in handy after all! I took one before we left for the trip. 

Team Picture before leaving for the airport. I'm in the back middle trying not to puke on anyone. Patti, my roommate, is just left of me as you look at the picture. Jennifer, our long term missionary, is just to the left of Patti in the blue tank top. Reggie, our translater is squatting in the front with the peanut butter.
The ride to PaP went pretty well. The drive is through a "barely 2 lane" mountain pass that makes the amount of time it will take very unpredictable. Add to that the rains from the previous 2 days and there was also a chance we'd come upon unpassable roadways. It took us about 5 hours from PaP to Jacmel, so we were hoping the 4-6 hour estimate would be accurate. We got stuck in the middle of some Saturday morning street markets.

Some sights on the road from Jacmel to Port-au-Prince

Tap Tap - "Haitian Style"

I didn't have a good "ladies carrying gigantic heavy stuff on their head" picture yet.

Trying to get through one of the Saturday markets. The van in front of us is our other team van.
 Port-au-Prince seemed congested when we got there, but overall we made it pretty quick - about 3 hours.  We got to the airport 3 hours early! I felt nauseous on and off in the car, but as long as I just sat still and didn't try to turn around or talk too much, I was fine.  About half of our van got carsick on the mountain road, but Reggie (who is Haitian) was the only one who threw up. We stopped at the earthquake epicenter so he could get sick. The van driver opened up the glove compartment and inside he had: 3 rolls of toilet paper and 3 paper bags.  He was prepared! I joked with him that he was being hospitable and puked so that I wouldn't feel so bad about being sick. 

We used our puke break to take pictures at the epicenter. None of the puking, don't worry.  In general, where you see the red dirt is where the ground broke apart during the earthquake. In the first picture, you can see where the mountain caved in. The blue in the picture is tarps which are being used for shelter now. Kind of scary to think how close these people were living to the epicenter.

First home we saw after passing the epicenter (less than a mile away)

There was a lot of water in the streets of Carrefour because of the rains yesterday.  I am glad that we were in Jacmel because we got to see the urban areas but also the mountains and countryside (not to mention the Caribbean!).

At the airport, there were lots of vendors that swarmed us to buy things.  Then the porters tried to not let us go inside the airport unless we paid them a baggage fee.  We declined and eventually they let us through and we found that the check in area was only about a 2 minute walk away.  Check in was much easier and smoother than coming through the airport last week.  The terminal waiting area looks similar to a US airport, only there are only 2 American Airlines gates, so it is pretty small.  I was able to get a Gatorade (small bottle for $3US!) and took the Cipro, my malaria pill and vitamins. 

Pictures from our terminal area wait...

Patti and Me - this is the tannest I will ever be in my life.  I was feeling a little scandalous in my tanktop but I felt so sick and hot that I could not tolerate wearing more than that.

Gina and Aubrey (mom and daughter)

Most of the younger guys chowed down on burgers or chicken sandwiches as soon as they had a chance

Gary, our fearless leader
We're boarding in 20 minutes.  I'm still not feeling good, but I will make it to Miami!

On the plane, waiting to take off

Window seat on the wing.  Exit row is right in front of me.  The lady already had her seat back before I even got on the plane. Triple travel pet peeve! (Seat back not sleeping + extra leg room + let me get into my seat already!)

We are actually taking off on time! Hooray! My seat neighbor is traveling with a baby on her lap.  I'm trying to be helpful, but am tired and sick and mostly feel "ugh!" about it.  Oh well. To Miami! (And seriously, who brings an infant to Haiti?)

Au revior, Haiti!

Descending to Miami

I didn't check a bag.  The lady next to me has been "baby talking" to her 5 month old the entire time.  It might be the most annoying baby talk voice I have ever heard. (In general, I am not a fan, but this was like an overdramatization of someone using an annoying baby talk voice, only it was real.)

I don't know if the team will wait at the gate to say goodbyes or not.  (

6:45pm Eastern
Miami, Florida
Hotel Room

We didn't end up getting to say goodbye at the airport because of customs, baggage, connecting flights, etc.  Patti and I went out ot the shuttles together and got to say goodbye though. That was good.

I have never felt so exhausted in my life.

It took almost an hour to get the shuttle and get to the hotel. I got in my swimsuit to go to the hot tub and started my laundry right away (It STUNK like the burning Haiti smell) and then realized I had no clothes left. I went to the hot tub and pool, talked to Eric for awhile and then went and checked my email in the lobby.  I am really really tired and weak. Haven't eaten anything today, but am actually feeling hungry now finally.

I took a 30 minute shower!  It was basically a triple shower.  I realized I have a ridiculous number of pimples on my shoulders and bra strap line.  I also actually have a tan! Now I'm watching a hideous movie on HBO - "17 Again" and eating the free popcorn in my room. Popcorn + protein bar = Dinner. My hotel did not have room service (if I did it again, I would pay extra for a hotel that did have it) and I was too tired to leave the hotel in search of food, so I made due with what I had. I only managed about a cup of popcorn anyway, so ordering food would have been a waste.

Going to get my clothes now and get in bed. Wake up call at 5am. (4am Haiti time)