Starfish Haiti Medical Mission and More travel blog

Garbage collection

Carrying stuff


Houses up the hill

School kids

Local worker

House and house frame


River Wash


Kids looking in the van

Motorcycle family

The compound

The luggage



Rainbow over the compound

An interesting night. The AC in the room was blowing right on me so I had to work my way out of the mosquito net and move the vents to point up. That worked for about five minutes then the AC shut off. Then about five minutes later it came back on blowing on me. I got up again and moved the vents down… then the same thing happened. I finally got up and mucked around with the controls for a couple minutes and finally got it set to low, which seemed to work. The rest of the night went well.

Breakfast at the hotel was rather normal with eggs and bananas with fresh pineapple juice. We stayed a bit waiting for the van to leave and chatted with some of the orphans who were visiting as well. Collect eight Prestige Beer caps and win a car – only the caps have to spell “Prestige.”

Packed our stuff up and headed out – the supply truck leading and the van following. Took a wrong turn and ended up in an alley, then had to back out and go down a couple blocks to the right turn. We stopped at a mission that got local artisans who needed to send their kids to school to do crafts and sold them both in their shop and on line. The man who ran the place was called Beaver. Quite a nice guy. Adam and Kitty talked to him quite a while to get ideas for the clinic they want to start. One idea was to charge everyone a nominal fee – but let some pay more for instant service. I didn’t like that idea very much – but then again I’m not making the decisions.

We looked around the place for a while – a porch where kids they were helping stayed and a rooftop that overlooked the city. The hill was growing houses – all new construction since the earthquake. We finally headed out at about 10:30 for Juilvert.

The road was fine for a while then it became very rough. Very. Ruts and rocks everywhere. We travelled through some very poor areas that seemed very dry. Buildings ranged from pretty nice block buildings with columns to waddle and dab constructions with thatch roofs. Most were very small. On the road we were constantly being passed by motorcyclists who usually had three of four people on them – on occasion five. Sometimes carrying huge bundles and even planks – sideways. While many women were riding on the cycles, I never saw a woman driving one. Many children and even young babies were carried – and no helmets.

There were also big trucks – especially about half way through where they were doing construction – they would plow past in a cloud of dust. Occasionally a snazzy four wheeler would roar by as well. Indeed, during the whole trip I don’t believe we passed another vehicle that was moving.

At one point two men on a motorcycle pulled up next to us and knocked on the window. It seems our muffler had come loose. As we stopped for the driver (Patrick) to fix it I got out and met some men who were working clearing a field next to the road. Just smiles and laughs – and a fist bump after I took some pictures. Off again until the supply truck (a pickup) had a flat tire. We stopped in the middle of a large town to get it fixed.

While there I remembered I did not have a razor so headed out to look at the local shops. Found one with razors – women’s – but couldn’t communicate how much it might be in dollars as I had not converted anything to Hatian dollars. When the clerk showed me the razor she had to wipe the dust off. Luckily, Patrice showed up and we worked things out. He doesn’t speak English so lots of motions and I finally got it for five dollars. This was just one of several large towns we passed through – each with a crowded market street (on the shady side of the street) and a huge variety of mostly very simple items – clothing (American) and used shoes seemed to be everywhere. Very little meat for sale except several times chickens still with their feathers.

Back at the van the local folks all came up to look at us and especially at Charlie – his lack of arms and legs they found amazing. He thought it great fun (he’s two and a half). Some of the kids leaned up against the window to look in so I stuck my camera up against the glass. They initially backed away then it became a game. They finally started to pose for pictures and were quite pleased to see pictures of themselves. The trouble with the flat was once they changed it one of the bolts had snapped – so they used wire to hold it in place.

Back on the road we passed over several rivers – all with people bathing and w2ashing clothes. The bridges were all very well done but the road continued to be a real mess – traffic would go all over the road and the rocks and ruts were terrible.

We finally got to the compound around 3:00 and were all beaten up with the bumpy road. We unpacked our personal stuff and took it to our rooms in the guest house – Adam and me on one side and all the women on the other. Then we unloaded the 24 packs from the truck – 1200 pounds – and left the bags on the side of the common area.

Lunch of chicken, beans and rice, plantains, and bananas along with water went down well – it was actually lunch and dinner. Once done we started to sort out the stuff in the bags – and there was lots of it – medicines we had to organize by type, school supplies, clothing, glasses, and toys. Then we started filling the bags up again with the sorted items. A whole suite case full of glasses, three of toys, one of school supplies, two of clothing, and the medical stuff…

We had stuffed the bottles full to the brim back in the states, now we had to sort out the items into plastic zip-lock bags. Thirty pills to a bag – vitamins, ibuphrofen, antacids, prenatal vitamins, and many others. Each bag of thirty pills we had to label as to the drug, dosage, and how many to take. We indicated that by drawing a circle on the bag and putting dots in the circle to show how many to take at once, and how many a day. We did this with just a few breaks from 4:00 to 8:00 that evening.

In the midst there were many local kids staring at us through the bars of the open air building. We tried to give out sunglasses but they were very grabby and tried to get more than one pair – so we had to give up. A bunch of kids were playing soccer with a tennis ball and we blew up one of the soccer balls that we brought. Ches played with tem for a while and the kids went nuts playing with a real soccer ball!

There was also a beautiful rainbow over the top of the mountain, a chicken that was roosting in an empty barrel in the compound that would fly out and scare whoever looked in the barrel – at least three times (me being the last one). Finally, though, we ran out of zip lock bags with many bottles still full. But we called it a night.

Back to the hotel Kitty spotted a tree frog on one of the windows, which was quite interesting – the same color as the gecko back at the hotel. I took another cold shower, shaved with the razor (worked well!), then Kitty came over for a while and we chatted before she went off to bed. Adam did his daily post to Starfish Haiti and I sat down to do this entry. A heavy rain fell and as I head off to bed there is still a spatter of rain.

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