Monday, July 4, 2011

Haiti - Day 5

5:50am - We are on our way to the Port Au Prince airport. The van is fixed now so we actually all fit in one vehicle.  No more riding in the bed of the pickup - that's where most of our luggage went.  I got up at 4:45 (still dark out!) and threw my clothes on - same ones I wore down here actually - and Amy and I went outside to see if any kids were there.  There weren't.  So we went back to the room, got our bags all ready and drug them down to the truck.  I took a few 'engagement pictures' for Tyler and Emily up on the balcony as the sun was just starting to come up. 

We all walked back over to check for kids again a few minutes later.  And sure enough, Amy's sweet little guy, Pierre, was there.  He's so stinkin' cute!  And one of Tyler's friends, an older boy (with a crazy earthquake story) was waiting too.  The other kids must have still been asleep! 

We had to say bye around 5:45 and get loaded up for the airport.  As we were pulling off, there were more kids out there waving bye, and of course little 'Clyde' was there now.  I almost cried again just waving goodbye from the van.  We just pulled out of the gate 10 minutes ago and I already want to go back.  4 days wasn't long enough!!

7:30am - We got to the airport in about 30 minutes or so, which really wasn't bad at all.  We had to leave so early because you just never know what traffic is going to be like in this city.  As we were waiting in line to get in to the airport (there is a security check point at the front door), there were lots of men begging and trying to sell things to us.  I kind of wanted this black bracelet that said "HAITI" on it in red and blue, and all the cash I had left was $3.  I knew the bracelet wouldn't (or shouldn't) be more than that, but I gave it all to him anyways and got my bracelet.  Well that drew some attention to me, and a couple other guys started trying to get me to buy things - even when I told them I was out of money!  I don't think they believed me.  One guy was really hammering me and kept saying he wanted my water bottle.  We were all standing there just trying to drink our water - not because we were thirsty, but because we knew we couldn't take it in once we got to the front door.  And this poor guy was legitimately thirsty!  I felt bad, so I traded him my water bottle for 2 more bracelets! He just really wanted some cool, clean water and I was just trying to get rid of mine.  The yellow plastic water bottle was $4 at Wal-Mart, so it wasn't a big loss for me, but the guy was happy (and thirsty)!

My new braclets

 There were a lot of other guys lined up trying to sell us stuff.  One guy had a bunch of CDs and movies, and said one was a "Christian CD."  Track number 5 was titled "Sexy Love" - doesn't get more "Christian" than that, ha!  I said, "Ummm...pretty sure that's not a Christian CD, buddy, but nice try."  He understood some English, because he laughed sheepishly and walked off.  

At the first security gate, I threw my bag up on the conveyer belt and walked through, only to get body searched.  I didn't expect security like this in Haiti!  We waited in line for the American Airliens check in counter for 15 minutes or so.  They checked us in, printed our boarding passes, and took the girls' bags (I don't have anything to bring back with me besides my carry-on back-pack).  There was one person in front of us for immigration, and once again, the guy hardly even looked at my stuff.  He just stamped my passport...right on top of some other country stamp half way through my passport!  There is room in the back for two more stamps before its full, but no, he slapped it on and you can't even see it!  I wasn't happy about it, but I think he just got tired of flipping page after page. 

Jut past immigartion, there was another security check (x-rays and all), just like the first one!  I tried to grab my back-pack off the conveyer belt after it went through the x-ray, but the security guy grabbed it and they actually searched it!  Man, I must look shady or something! The guy really just unzipped my bag, poked around a little, pulled out my bag of food, poked it, and stuck it back in and shoved my bag towards me.

Okay, so believe it or not, we went directly up an escalator from that security check, and when we got to the top, there was ANOTHER full-on security check! And I got body searched AGAIN! I mean what in the world did they think I could of possibly done while riding from the bottom of the escalator to the top? There was NO where else to go!  So weird...

I went up top to a little food court area and got some coffee for my momma and a bottle of water.  The flight is already delayed - only 15 minutes so far - and we still have almost two hours to sit here...

8:55am - I've already been up 4.5 hours and I'm tired.  We're sitting on the plane now, almost in the last row, but I got a window seat and hope to get some good pics of the ocean (since I had an aisle seat and couldn't see on the way here).

(The best view of the ocean I got)

12:30 - The flight from Port-Au-Prince to Miami was pretty short and uneventful.  The guy sitting next to me on the plane was from Brazil, stationed in Haiti with the UN.  He didn't speak English, and had the customs form filled out all wrong.  I did my best to help him with the little bit of Spanish I know, ha! 

When we got off the plane, we knew we were somewhat pressed for time because we have to go through immigration and customs and then re-check in for our flight and go through security and all that jazz.  Since I don't have any checked bags, I went on by myself.  I didn't have to wait in the immigration line too terribly long, maybe 20 minutes or so, and then I expected to breeze right through customs.  I mean I don't eve have any bags.  Well for some odd reason, the super grumpy customs guy marked something on my customs form and told me to follow the red circles on the floor.  Ummm...excuse me?  What does that mean?  There were green (go ahead), yellow (xray) and red (hand search) circles.  The red line was NOT moving.  Like, at all.  They had 4 or 5 security guys wearing gloves and pulling every single thing out of the massive suitcases that all the foreigners had.  I was the only American in that line, I swear!  I have NO idea why he made me go that way!  I actually grabbed another security guy, showed him my customs form and asked again if I really had to wait in this line?  He asked me where I had been, looked at my back-pack, and said yes!  What the heck??  Do I look like a drug smuggler or something?  I mean, I haven't had a shower in a few days and am kind of dirty, but come on!  Well, I don't always follow the rule so well.  I was way too impatient (and crunched for time) to stand there and have them pull everything out of my bag, so I scoped out all the security guys around me for several minutes, devised my escape plan, and at just the right second, I jumped ove the rope and walk/jogged in to the stream of people heading down the yellow line to the x-ray machine!  The adrenaline was kind of going, because I think I would have gotten in some serious trouble if I got caught trying to avoid a bag search.  I mean that's not suspicious or anything!  But the guy who took my form in that line didn't even look at it!  I think if he would have seen the mark on it he would have made me go back to the red line (or worse), but he was too busy yelling at some guy who didn't even speak English, ha!  I put my bag on the x-ray machine and held my breathe (maybe it's the bag of food in there?) - but had no problem at all.  Back around to the front of the airport, and back through another security check.  Jeez...I think I've been searched like 5 times today already!

I just ate lunch here at the airport (lasagna) and am waiting at the gate now for a long flight to Chicago...

2:20pm - We are currently taxiing back to the gate. We have a "maintenance issue" that needs to be taken care of - just what you like to hear!  The flight is already 25 minutes late. Fantastic.
Well hello, Miami Beach.  I'll see you in September!

4:45pm - We just landed in Chicago (O'hare).  Our flight from Miami wasn't delayed too terribly long, so we have time for our 6pm flight to KC - thank goodness!  I am tired of airports and airplanes for today!

5:45pm - We just got on plane - and almost missed the flight eating!  I mean how often are flights actually completely boarded on time!?  That never happens!  We walked to our gate with about 20 minutes to spare, and it was EMPTY!  I mean they let us on, but everyone was definitely seated already!  Thank goodness we didn't sit around and wait any longer or we might of been too late to get on!

7:15 - Just landed in KC!  Of course my mom was here to get me.  I am headed home to unpack and do laundry - and maybe catch some fireworks somewhere around town?  I completely forgot that it is the 4th of July!  It's good to be home, but I think Haiti left a pretty good mark on me.  Wonderful experienes and lots of life lessons learned in the past 4 days...

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