Aahhh, finally arrived on Haiti Arise campus, in all my sweaty glory. So for those of you that have not traveled to Haiti and through the chaos they call Port Au Prince, let me paint the picture for you. We have a 15-passenger white Nissan that once upon last year had amazing AC. Riding in the van before didn't give a full experience of the assault on your senses and gave the illusion that driving through the filthy capital was a breeze. Ah, but now, I was able to capture all the breezes that carry the thick, sticky smells of exhaust and dust into my hair, which acted as the perfect net. I wanted to hang my arm out the open window, but promptly was reminded to keep all limbs inside the vehicle, passing motorists can come dangerously close. I'm of course used to all of this, but there still are certain sites that make me chuckle. My first confirmation that I arrived in a foreign land, besides the afore mentioned, was a 2 yr old child in the back seat of a banged up BMW, arms draped over the front seats as she was not buckled in a car seat or seat belt, drinking a Coke. You know you're way too used to 3rd world traffic when the Coke is more concerning to you than no car seat. The second confirmation was the absolute lack of traffic rules affirmed by the tap taps (that's a pickup truck w a covered bed overflowing with humans) trying to inch their way around the line of traffic by passing on the right, off the pavement. I was tempted to ask the driver where he thought he was going, which I could have since we were barely moving. Once we clear the human jungle of the city, the speeds accelerate and the air is fresher, although I can no longer run my fingers through my hair. But this is the Haiti I love. The country landscape is beautiful, with high mountains covered in lush tropical plants. The effects of the hurricane cannot be observed yet. The city and all north was spared.
I did give in and ate my airplane 'snacks' that I'm convinced are made from recyclable materials. Since my hands were caked w city grime by now, the packaged alternative was somewhat more appealing than my fingers.
I arrived with my team that came to fetch me back in time for a real supper of goat (fresh from the farm), rice & beans and salad. That was a welcoming scent! I was also welcomed with the number one Haitian compliment by our Haitian cooks: "Oh, you're so big! You're beautiful." I've grown to accept this comment graciously as they truly believe it's a wonderful thing to be "big". Even if I've lost weight, they'll make this comment and examine my backside.
The best homecoming of course is my husband. Though I pretended to be mad cause he didn't come to the airport, I'm so grateful to be back with him. I had flashbacks to the first time I went to visit him in Jamaica after meeting six months before. I was tired, smelly and sticky from travel when he greeted me all fresh, splashed in cologne and a same-day haircut. I felt that way today. Good thing he loves me for more than my looks, cause I sure didn't have them today. I surely have arrived, in all my travel crusted glory.