We got into Miami around 1:00 AM and met our last crew member who had flown down from Maine. Then we immediately settled down. Our flight wasn’t until 7:00 AM. The plan was to sleep the night on the floor then get the flight. Well, it was not too comfortable. At the gate we stopped in there was CNN blaring the news. We wandered away a bit but the floor was vibrating, people were buffing and sweeping… In other words none of us really got any sleep. We wandered the concourse and all the shops were closed.
Eventually 5:00 AM arrived and the shops started opening. We got breakfast and made our groggy way to the gate and eventually boarded.
The flight to Port au Prince was uneventful. We landed and the terminal was air conditioned! A first! Then we went through immigration with few problems $10 visa fee). Customs was another matter – where several bags were x-rayed (a first) and they questioned our bags full of drugs. They were all over the counter but we were in a bit of a hurry so slipped the manager $50 and were ushered through.
In the parking lot we were met with a van and a mini-bus. After much discussion we decided to put the 16 crew on the bus and all the bags in the van. That seemed to work well.
Then we headed through Port au Prince and it was its normal crowded, dirty mess. As always, trash in huge piles and lots of people doing all sorts of things. We drove through a number of markets that seemed to have themes – fruit, fish, meats, vegetables, auto parts…
We finally left the city and things were calmer. Still motorcycles everywhere and traffic chaotic. Trash still everywhere but more spread out. We stopped at a mango market and bought three bags of mangos for the guest house – about 25 pounds for $12.00. The sellers ganged around the bus and all were trying to sell their wares, but our driver settle don paying one of them and telling her to figure out who gets what. That seemed to satisfy everyone.
Off again and in about 20 miles we had two flat tires! As we worked on the tires two vans showed up and took us all so we wouldn’t have to wait for the bus to be repaired. I got to sit in the front of one that had a very cracked window – they called it the suicide seat because the seat belt didn’t work. But I apparently survived.
We stopped in at a gas station (one of the few) and there were only about five armed guards. We went to the toilet and I got some stuff from the store then off again. Another stop at Nora’s place – the woman who runs the mission on the island. We had a quick toilet break and a tuna fish sandwich (lunch at 3:00) then off again to La Caye.
Finally got to the port and our bags were there already loaded into an open boat. The sea was a bit choppy so we all donned life jackets and headed off. The trip was mostly uneventful but we kept a careful eye on the squall line off to the east that seemed to follow us and kept getting closer and closer. The island didn’t look that different after the hurricane last year.
We landed at the beach and had to jump in the water to get to shore. As it had rained the last three days straight the road to the guest house was really muddy – so our shoes got really muddy as well. The road up looked pretty much the same but a couple trees were missing. We did get muddy.
We arrived and the truck brought the bags and we lugged them up into the entry area. The whole place had been upgraded with a bit with tile on the floors and rooms. Light switches and plugs were exposed but OK and the generator was plugging away.
Dinner was served – hotdogs – so I had peanut butter which was welcomed. We sat around a bit after dinner and decided that we were too tired to do much so we went off to bed. Then the generator went out but it was late enough we went off to our room.
There were screens on the windows but we still hung mosquito nets. Then we took bucket showers with cold water. Even in the warm weather didn’t lessen the shock of a pitcher full of cold water. But it did feel good after a 30+ hour trip. Sleep quickly followed.