Back in Haiti for less than 24 hours and already so much to tell. Had the easiest time ever at the airport--short line for immigration, almost efficient. Porter found my bags immediately. Out the door and down the walkway to look for the Hospital Albert Schweitzer driver. That is when the adventure began. Was happy to see a Haitian man holding a Hospital Albert Schweitzer sign who quickly grabbed my luggage cart and we took off through the parking lot, soon joined by another "helper." A short way out, I looked closely enough to see that the man with the sign had an airport badge and was therefore NOT the HAS driver. As we got further and further away from the airport, I finally demanded that they STOP until I could see the real HAS driver; otherwise, I was returning to the enclosed airport exit area. After much negotiating, one helper going ahead to supposedly find the driver and a couple of false starts, a van slowly began to pull toward us. It turned out to be the HAS van. Adventure #1 completed.
We bumped over to the HAS Port-au-Prince office a short distance away, at times almost swimming through pouring water (see previous entry). If we had stalled in one of those lakes of brown water, I'm not sure if I could have forced myself to step out and walk away. Fortuntely, the ancient well worn van seemed to be able to swim and we arrived at the office. We picked up 6 more riders, then headed out Highway 1 on a long, hot journey.
Adventure #2: It began to rain, then pour. Beautiful streaks of lightening across the sky. People running for cover, motorcycles struggling and stopping where there was shelter. "We went on. The discouraging part came as we went through several towns in the rain. Water poured down hillsides into the street carrying along great globs of garbage, including glass bottles of all sorts. How any vehicle could swim through what we did without cutting open a tire, I do not know. But we drove on. We made it to Deschapelles.
As we pulled up by the hospital, the large while UNICEF tents holding cholera patients came into view. The old gift shop has now become the cholera ward since a fresh outbreak with the start of the rainy season. It is overflowing; hence the tents. My house mate who has been here for several months tells me that the Haitian staff are becoming worn down by the influx of these patients--with very limited facilities for their treatment and general ignornace in the population about how to prevent transmission. Lots of handwashing this visit. Filtered water with chlorine. Indoor and outdoor shoes. And hopefully good luck . . . .
Speaking of my housemate--I was delighted to met Kim, an American PT who is here working with the new PT Dept on administrative organization, as well as public health and other issues related to the disabled. She has much interesting knowledge to share and we are already trading insights and thoughts on all things Haiti.
Adventure #3: At 7:30 this morning, Kim led us up the side if a nearby mountain to a wonderful morning view of the Artibonite Valley. Looking down at nature, it is hard not to believe that there cannot be hope for Haiti.
Finally caught a shower at noon; running water only 3 hours per day (6-7 AM, 12-1 PM and 6-7 PM). Now unpacking many supplies, planning for class tomorrow with the Rehabilitation Technician Training Program students and preparing to take a look around campus and the hospital. Bottom line, it feels very good to be here. I am glad to be back in Haiti.