I made it! Whew!
It feels strange to be back in Haiti but normal at the same time. Strange in that I'm not very busy because I don't have much of an agenda while I'm here... but normal in just about every other way.
Yesterday, all morning and afternoon before I arrived I was feeling... anxious, almost. I knew it would be a great visit, but it had been such a long time since I had visited... I just hoped everything would go well and that I wouldn't get in the way. As soon as I landed and entered the Port-au-Prince airport, though, it felt as if I was coming back to work after a long vacation almost. It just felt so normal. It's really good to be back.
After getting through immigration and customs (quickly, I might add!) I found the porter for the Methodist Mission here, Jackson, and he called Oge to figure out the best place to find him. Soon, I saw a white Isuzu D-Max turning around the corner with my closest Haitian friend behind the driver's seat. We piled my stuff into the truck, exchanged a hug, and then took a photo so I could post it on Facebook and say "See! I'm really here!" (The photo has 41 likes, by the way... I feel so loved!)
The drive home was great. I had made a CD for Oge and I to jam out to and he specifically requested that I have that CD ready and waiting for us to listen to when he picked me up... but we barely listened to it because we talked too much. Haha, we had a lot to catch up on!
Arriving at the Guest House was wonderful as well. I got to see the vast majority of my Haitian friends as well as the UMVIM staff and it was like reuniting with old friends or extended family. Most of them knew that I was coming, but, strangely enough, Erick (a driver and general maintenance man for the Guest House), missed that I was coming. When he saw me at dinner that night he gave me the biggest, most enthusiastic hug that I have probably ever received. Well, maybe not EVER... but it's likely up in the top five. :)
I was EXHAUSTED last night so I went to bed fairly early and attempted to sleep through the music blaring from the "disco" down the street. Wow. I forgot how noisy Haiti is at night. Between the disco, barking dogs, and crowing roosters... it's hard to catch any silence! Thankfully, I found some earplugs so I should be set for the rest of the week.
Today was pretty laid-back. Oge showed me a magazine that Haiti is starting to produce and hand out to visitors arriving at the airport that's all about tourism in Haiti. That was really fun to look through and see what restaurants and hotels and beaches they recommend and to see which ones we had already been to before. I definitely found some places to add to my list of "things to see/do in Haiti."
Oge and I also dropped a team off at the airport in the tap-tap, which most of our teams lovingly refer to as the "paddywagon." I expected to see a lot of improvement/newness since October, but on the route we took not much had changed. However, (my dad will be glad to hear this) it seems as if almost ALL the rubble around Port-au-Prince is gone! That is HUGE and definitely something worth rejoicing. I will be going to Mellier, one of our longest running sites, this week so I'm sure I'll see big signs of change/improvement both on that drive and at that site. I am SO EXCITED to see it! It's been at least a year and I hear that it's plugging along at a great pace.
After that, Oge and I enjoyed a simple lunch at the Epi d'or... a place you HAVE to go to at least once if you're staying in the Petionville area. I basked in the air conditioning. I am definitely already missing that the most. Wow, is it HOT here! (And the humidity is through the roof!)
Beyond that I just spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and playing a few rousing games of Speed with Oge and catching up with some of the Guest House staff. Daniel, one of the drivers here, showed me some of his new jazz piano skills which was a lot of fun and I got opportunities to chat with Erick and Maxo, too.
Of course, I suppose that I should also add in one more thing... :)
Oge and Sarah decided not to tell any of the boys that I was coming so it would, once again, be a surprise. I was not expecting to see any kids (besides the ones that live at/near the Guest House - Jessica, Belle, etc.) until Saturday. This morning, though, Robenson came by to drop off some books for his mom.
That was such a joy getting so see him. He's 14 now and he's starting to look like a real teenager which is just so crazy to me. But he is healthy and doing well in school and that was all such wonderful, wonderful news. I am so excited to see him again on Saturday along with all the other kids... it will be great! Also I had a brief meeting today about the bracelet program and it could be an exciting new development! If plans begin to move forward this week, I'll be sure to report it on here!
I feel like I don't have much to report, but that's mostly because I always forget what's worth reporting! If you have specific questions or whatever, don't hesitate to ask!
If you have never read my blog before, you should know:
1. I lived in Haiti from May 2010 to May 2011 and I worked for the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) program here. This program is stationed out of the Methodist Guest House in Petionville, Haiti... a suburb of Port-au-Prince. I lived at the Guest House. I am staying at the Guest House again this week with all of my friends. :)
2. There is no air conditioning in any of the rooms. Also, you do not flush the toilet unless "it is brown." You throw your toilet paper away in the trash can.
3. There is no hot water. Which at times can be chilly, but in these incredibly hot months, a cold shower is truly a divine blessing from God.
4. I "accidentally" started a program called Bracelets of Blessing and I am working to legally establish it. It is quite difficult to do when I live in the US most of the time... but I try!