Haiti (Part 1)

My visit to Haiti in September of this year changed me in many ways. I want to share some, but covering everything in one blog would be too:

a. Time consuming        b. Cumbersome     c. And nobody would read it

My wish is that every teenager could visit Haiti. Actually, I wish every American could visit Haiti. We are so blessed here, so fortunate, so free to do so many things here that aren’t options in America.

I was talking to a lady from Haiti who has lived the past 30 years in Orlando, Florida. We were riding in the back of a “tap tap” (which I will describe at a later time), and she told me she was visiting relatives. She has children that have attended and graduated from college. She tries to have them come with her to Haiti, as they’ve never been to Haiti, but they do not want to come. She said she wants to let them know how fortunate they are to live in America, that they can attend college and make a better life for themselves. A lesson for all of us.

I had never really cared much about “emission controls” on vehicles. Then I went to Haiti. The smell of exhaust from diesel trucks, motorcycles, and cars was at times overwhelming. The sound of the vehicles (mufflers must not be allowed in Haiti) was extremely loud at times. I met a guy named Bill Howard, a former Baptist preacher who is starting orphanages in Haiti, and he asked me “Do you know what the yellow solid lines on the Haitian roads mean?”. I told him I didn’t, and he said, “They mean nothing”. How true that is.

They have a system where you just lay on the horn, and people move out of the way. And there is a pecking order. If you are a pedestrian, and a motorcyle beeps at you, move off the road or over as much as you can. If you are on a motocycle, and a tap tap or car beeps at you, then you move off the road or over as much as you can. If you are a tap tap, and a big truck beeps at you, then you move over out of the way. So, a large truck beeps, the tap tap moves over, which causes the motorcycle to move over, which causes the pedestrian to move off the road.

A “tap tap” is like our taxi service, but a bit more daring. It’s a covered pick up truck whith boards on the side to sit on. It holds six comfortably, but usually carries 12. They can sit on the roof, stand on the back bumper, or kneel on the floor. When you are ready to get off, you “tap tap” the side of the truck, and it drops you off, and you pay the man. Quite simple. Their favorite line, which they learn in English, is “one more”, which means they can take one more passenger. Even if 14 are on the truck.

You know those signs here, “motorcycles are everywhere”? They ARE everywhere in Haiti. Other than walking, there is no other way to get up some of the mountains. Seriously, one of my most exhilarating moments of my life was when we were climbing a mountain on the back of a motorcycle, watching the scenery, the mountains and oceans and valleys, while it was raining. I can still feel the rain and the ride.

Actually, there is another way to get up the mountain. A donkey. Not sure if it’s a donkey, mule, jack-ass, or jenny, but you know what I mean. They are used to help in getting water to the villages. They go up the mountain for water, either by foot or donkey, and carry it to their village. At one orphanage we walked 35 minutes up a mountainside to get water. The kids at the orphanage do this as part of their daily routine.

That’s enough for now. You’ve got the transportation part down. Next I’ll talk about their love of God, the beauty of their country, and how happy they are with absolutely nothing.

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