It feels almost surreal to be writing this post… I have arrived in Haiti! After a feast of all of my favorites last night, Mom, Dad, and I took off for JFK airport at 4:30 this morning for my 3 hour and 50 minute flight direct from JFK to Port au Prince.
As we first crossed onto the land mass of Haiti, the man sitting next to me on the plane said, “You are going to have an extraordinary experience here.” As I looked out the window and saw beautiful blue water and gorgeous rolling hills, I could not help but agree.
The Port au Prince Airport gets a bad rap… I think it is probably better staffed and cleaner than JFK. Also, I have never been greeted by a live band getting off a plane in NYC J I was picked up right after baggage claim by a student from the nursing school and one of the nursing school’s drivers. We had some nice conversation, though I am having a bit of a hard time understanding this accent. Then again, I have been in the country for 6 hours so I probably should not get down on myself just yet.
Driving through Port au Prince was a surreal experience. There are people everywhere, drivers pull out from nowhere, and people just walk between cars trying to sell things. The buildings are colorful and some of the architecture is incredible. While rubble still lines the streets, there are definite signs of healing in the city’s many building projects. Upon leaving Port au Prince, we drove right along that gorgeous blue coast to Leogane. As my seat mate on the plane told me “at least the air moves a little bit out in Leogane,” which is absolutely true. The compound that I am staying on houses the nursing school dorms and classrooms as well as researchers from Notre Dame and I think that there is a guest house. There are chickens and turkeys wandering about and I was greeted right at the front gate by two baby goats: too cute!
Everyone at the nursing school has been incredibly kind and set me up in a lovely room: I even have a mirror and a fan! The head of the dorms refers to herself as everyone’s “mama” and she cooked me up more food than I could ever think about consuming for dinner! Fried plantains, rice and beans, pork, broccoli, and soup! Excellent food and it filled me right up!
Here are a couple of pictures of my room for your enjoyment! I am still unpacking so please forgive the suitcases!