Haiti is horn happy. There’s a honk for everything. One honk if you want to pass by. One honk to warn others you are coming around a corner. There is another honk to see if anyone is coming around the corner. A series of 3 honks for when there are people or livestock on the road.
Driving is just as complex. The roads are horrible—some of the worst I’ve ever seen. There are large potholes, bumps, rocks and in some places the road doesn’t exist at all—mainly due to erosion. When you are driving you must constantly be choosing the best path around the rough road as well as keeping an eye out for people, goats, pigs, other large trucks and motorcycles. I was surprised to hear that Haitian drivers have to carry insurance. With a country with no lanes it’s surprising one needs insurance. Pastor explained that himself and many others carry two insurances—one being from the US. Because, “The US insurance will pay if there’s an accident etc.” Neither insurance covers anyone outside of the vehicle. So the way in which most Haitians travel, in the backs of trucks and buses are not covered.
Pastor Tom who is installing the solar panels here at the Children’s Home said on his last visit he hit a large pig and killed it. The owners were on their way back from market and were incredibly upset. Pastor Tom ended up buying the pig for 60.00 US dollars.
The drive to Port au Prince was brutal. It’s the first time my neck has hurt, from my previous car accident, since I’ve been in Haiti. The drive was beautiful and there was something to look at every step of the way. While in Port au Prince I saw the first visible damage from the earthquake in 2010. Large shopping centers and homes were in ruins. Pastor pointed out one shopping center, that was now a pile of rubble. He said many people died when the building collapsed. It is shocking how two years later so many of the buildings are forgotten—not being rebuilt.
While in Port au Prince I saw military from Brazil, Argentina and Chile as well as a strong UN presence. The UN was everywhere. Pastor Tom explained that two years ago there were many streets and areas of town that were too dangerous to travel in. Now, because of the military presence and the UN, these streets are safe to travel again.
Another travel story: Alden, Pastor’s son, need to return home to Cap Haitian but the road was flooded due to the rain. So Alden had to hire 4 men to swim his motorcycle across and then another man to swim Alden across on his shoulders.
Something I have noticed in my travels in Haiti is the lack of sexual harassment from the men towards the natives and visitors. When I traveled to Kenya, sexual harassment was a major issue. So much so, that I couldn’t run on the beaches due to constant harassment from the young men. But here in Haiti there doesn’t seem to be sexual harassment. I can walk the streets of Pignon in safety. And while Port au Prince is more dangerous it still felt safer than Nairobi and without the sexual harassment.
Also, I cleaned the children’s wounds for the first time. Felicine’s heel was cracked wide open. Jaquenta’s ear is infected and needed cleaning. One of the boys picked off his scab so he could be treated. Among many other scrapes and open wounds. It felt nice to be able to serve in such a humble manner such as washing their feet.
It really strikes me that these children are orphans when one of them cries. When an orphan cries here in Haiti they stand alone. They have no mother or father to rush to their side. Sometimes a slightly older child will approach the child crying and comfort them by brushing their tears away or patting their backs. My mom and I try our best to console the distraught child with pats on their backs and words from a language unknown to them.