Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Best Laid Plans


And as usual, I hit the ground running…
I am back in Haiti for the first time since February.  Every year I swear I won’t visit in July or August, and every year something happens so that I must.  This year, I’m here during the hottest season to accommodate a wedding.  Not one in Haiti, not even one that I’m attending.  On this trip, I have my three oldest Haitian-born children along, and one was a friend’s bridesmaid this weekend.  So, July it is.  We are joined by my son’s fiancée, another Haitian-born young adult, and her cousin from the US.  We’re a happy, noisy party eager to see relatives and friends.
For today, friends will come first.  We are met at the airport by Rico Changeux, a friend of my oldest son and his fiancée.  Everyone except for G, K, and I go to the MASAFECS/ABI guest house with all the luggage.  Rico takes us to Vertile House in Carrefour.  There we meet about thirty children who live at the house, receiving schooling and eventually vocational training.  We pass a long time discussing the state of child welfare in Haiti and an orphanage exit strategy for older children, and come to the conclusion that it’s all very difficult and none of us the answers.  At least Vertile House has a concrete plan and vision for their kids.  It helps to have Haitian directors!
Next we visit a Haitian beach resort owned by Rico’s father.  The music is very loud, but the sea breeze is cool and relaxing.  The place has a “good vibe,” as Rico puts it.  There is no real beach here.  The property has been extended with additional materials – tires, boulders, and a covering of asphalt support a few extra feet of ground, from which steps descend into the churning Carribean.  I dip my feet, the kids go for a swim.  I regret telling them we need to get rolling to make it ‘home’ before dark, but it’s Mom’s job to be practical.
On our way to Vertile house, the car stalled repeatedly but always restarted.  On the way home, we are not so lucky.  After several uneventful stalls, we have one from which the car does not recover.  And NOT in a good place to get stuck in the city.  But, it’s not dark yet, so things could be worse. 
And moments later, they are.

Torrential rain drenches the street, like huge buckets being upended over and over.  But there’s still good news – any scary people have run indoors to avoid drowning on the sidewalk.  As the rain pours on and on, the street empties completely of people and fills with filthy running water.  Our driver gives up on getting our car to start and disappears into the deluge to try to find someone to give us a ride and him a tow.  We have to keep the windows up to keep from being soaked.  It’s like being in a sauna!  A dark sauna, as night falls.  But the steam of our own breath on the windows and the darkness are a good think as K and I should not be in this part of the city at night, hence my motherly nagging to leave the ocean early. 
Did you know it can hail in Haiti?  Neither did I.

Eventually, the rain slows and K points out we have a new worry.  The water is at least a foot and a half deep on the opposite side of the street.  We wonder how deep it will have to be to actually move the car, because it’s quite a strong current.
Finally a rescuer appears, who delivers us to BRESMA’s faithful Franck, out in the dark and the drizzle to fetch us.  We return to the guest house to a chorus of complaints from those who believed up until our arrival that we spent hours playing at the beach – not trapped in a stuck car in Carrefour!
Welcome to Haiti, K, where the best laid plans often come to confusion!

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