Blog by Shondi MacDonald
Having been asked to write something for the blog, I thought I’d share a few of the adventures from my first day in Haiti. This is my third trip to Haiti, but first time travelling solo, first time travelling with six 50 pound bags and first time since the PAP airport had been renovated. I was a bit apprehensive but had received plenty of helpful advice about what to expect and how to navigate in the airport until I could meet Daniel outside. Thankfully, while I was about to rent several luggage carts, I heard my name being called. Daniel had made it inside and so I had help to navigate the baggage.
There were people pressing at least 5 deep all around the carousel and very eager to claim baggage. We decided that I would grab the bags off the carousel since I knew what they looked like and pass them back to Daniel with the carts. One of my bags came almost immediately, but it took about 2 hours in total to get all six. And that was with a third guy helping us. I was getting really dizzy from the carousel going around and around and around. There would be some luggage go around, and then a long break with no luggage and then some more, etc. Apparently, since our flight was late getting in, they stopped the baggage coming off to allow another plane to land and unload.
On one such round of luggage, I felt a sharp pain in my leg and realized I’d been impaled by a loose wire from someone’s bag. I tried extricating myself, but due to the cramped conditions, aforementioned dizziness and the speed of the carousel, I wasn’t able to free myself in time and heard a loud rip. In my fight with the baggage carousel, my pants lost. I had to spend the rest of the journey with a very sizeable hole in my pants. I guess it could have been worse and I could have lost my pants entirely or suffered a large gash on my leg. Not sure what I will be wearing on the flight home now though.
The ride to Deschapelles was also adventurous as a large school bus tried to force us off the road. Our driver then went in front of the bus and slowed right down in retaliation. Then the bus passed us again and tried to force us off the road. All vehicles came to a screeching stop at a bridge and both sets of drivers got into a yelling match. People from other vehicles and motos and passersby all got in on the action, yelling and pounding their fists on the windows. Finally, everyone returned to their own vehicles and traffic got moving once again.
After arriving at the compound and visiting for awhile, it was time to get ready for bed. I decided to have a shower to clean off and cool down. Mom said to use any of the towels in the bathroom. After my shower, I grabbed my towel and ran it over my hair, my face, by shoulders, arms, etc – you get the picture. 😉 I looked down and – it’s amazing how fast our brains process stuff – I went from thinking “Wow, this towel is super lint-y”, to “Please God, may it just be lint” to “The ‘lint’ is moving” to “OMG, I’m covered in FIRE ANTS!” After a few seconds, I realized screaming and shaking was not going to help my situation. I quickly turned the water back on and tried to rinse them off. My skin was very red and itchy and burning for the rest of the night, but I was relatively unscathed by the next morning. At least physically – I still eye all the towels with a bit of distrust. Mom said that when she checked, there wasn’t a single ant on any of the other towels in the bathroom, so I guess I won the fire-ant-towel lottery! The next day, there were still hundreds of ants on the towel where we had thrown it outside.
Quite an adventurous first day for me, but it’s always a pleasure to be back in Haiti. I’m looking forward to many more fun times while I’m here.
Merry Christmas everyone!