Friday, June 18, 2010

The Airport

Yesterday was a long day, but fairly boring. We set out early in the morning to retrieve the tap-tap we purchased but didn't end up receiving it until about 4:00 p.m. Not only was it late but they didn't do everything on the tap-tap that we had contracted for so that caused some issues. However, I will say that I had one of the best meals I've had in Haiti thus far yesterday. We ate at a great buffet by the airport and the food was AMAZING.

Today, however, came with some stories. This morning was kind of lazy around the Guest House. Mike and Doug worked on financials, Bryan and I played games, and later I created the logo for the UMVIM Haiti program. It's not super fancy, but it looks good and will function for the purpose of purchasing a stamp and possibly staff polos to wear in more official settings.

After lunch, though, Mike was going to go to a music store to look at guitar prices and then to the airport to transport of a group of seven to the domestic airport for a flight to Jeremie, Haiti. However, we left later than we intended to and instead had to go straight to the airport. Being a group of white folks (plus Oge) with laptops (as I was still working on the logo, Mike was working on scheduling stuff, and Bryan was playing games) we were like sitting ducks. Pretty soon we had different kids cycling through asking for money.

They also never believed me when I told them I didn't have any money. I was telling the truth, too! I hadn't brought any money with me! I think seeing the laptop they were all too aware of how much wealthier I am compared to them. I felt terrible, but I had to keep on saying no.

Also, me being me, I am all too aware that a good portion of the kids asking for money are more-than-likely slaves. ESPECIALLY since they were kids I'm guessing many of them are slaves. It hurts to say "no" but at the same time, it feels good that I'm not giving money to a trafficker. However, it's kind of a lose-lose situation. If I give the kids money, the trafficker gets it. If I don't give the kids money, and they "don't make enough" for the day, then they are beaten.

However, I did get to help some of them. One little boy in particular stood at the window and kept on saying something that I didn't understand. I responded with "No komprann" which means "I don't understand." He finally stuck his hand inside the car and grabbed the half full water bottle in the vehicle. It was one of my extra, disposable water bottles. I smiled and nodded. Later two other boys came by and they noticed Oge's water bottle from three days ago stuck in between two seats. As it still had some water left in it, they wanted it, as well as the last drops of the Coke Oge bought me this afternoon. (Yeah, he's a good guy to have around... he bought all of us drinks while we were waiting for the group!) I nodded again and they happily took the bottles.

Although giving money can be a slippery slope, I was happy to give them drinks because I know they reap the benefits of that donation. Maybe if I go to the airport again I'll try to have a few more extra water bottles on me.

The kids were very cute, though. One little boy came up to me and said "Hello." So I said, "Hello." Then he said, "I am hungry." And I said, "M pa gen lajan." That means, "I don't have any money." He responded with "I'm sorry." That made me laugh and smile. I don't know if he understood what he said, but if he did understand it, it was adorable.

After waiting for TWO HOURS, though, we finally picked up the group we were supposed to transfer, but they were very late. The person they were supposed to meet in Jeremie called the airlines, though, and had it arranged for the plane to wait. We shuttled the team there and unloaded the van quickly. The team went inside and got through security and then the airline officials said "Sorry, you can't fly out today."

At that moment, we started scrambling. Figuring out plans for them to stay at the Guest House tonight as well as trying to find a way to pack the van so we weren't so crammed in there like we were for the brief ride from the international airport. Halfway through packing up the van, though, a man came up to Oge and said, "I know the pilot and if you slip me some cash I can talk to him and have him take this group to Jeremie."

Oge explained the situation to Mike and Mike called their group leader over. The group leader handed the man a $10 and within minutes the group was going through security again. We got a call around dinner time with news they safely arrived in Jeremie. So weird. In fact, Mike said it was one of the strangest experiences he's ever had in Haiti. That's saying quite a bit.

Alright! Well I'm off to bed. Goodnight world!


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