Arrival Port au Prince
Arrived from Fort Lauderdale at 7:30 a.m. local time, which is the same as Austin time. Three quarters of the people on the plane were Haitian, including everyone in my immediate vicinity. Walked through a corner of the terminal past a local six piece band playing for change, and doing pretty well judging from the tip jar, to board a bus to immigration. Immigration and customs are in a large hanger like building adjacent to the terminal. No problem with either, so exited in search of a taxi. A young woman wearing a bright yellow shirt and a large “Taxi” badge approached and asked if I needed one. When I replied in the affirmative, she grabbed my roller bag and set off, parting the sea of people with me trailing closely in her wake. We reached the taxi stand, where there weren’t any taxis as such, but she tossed my bag in the back of a 90’s vintage Isuzu Trooper. I tipped her a dollar, which from her smile seemed sufficient, and I was off to the Palm Inn Hotel.
We drove through mostly unpaved, and some perhaps depaved, streets, past a couple of the tent camps that have been set up since the quake, already sweltering even though it was only about 8:30. Within about ten minutes I spotted a small sign featuring a palm tree next to a large white gate down the street to our left. We pulled up and the driver honked until the security guard opened the gate, allowing us to pull into a courtyard flanked by two two story peach colored buildings with white columns. We pulled up in front of the office, whose window has “Office” taped on it in red and is backed by an iron grate. However, there was a smiling young woman with a bob haircut behind the grate whom I assumed was Farah, the English speaking woman I corresponded with about reserving the room. But no, this was Jesula and her English was hardly better than my Creole. It was about at this point that I began wondering where the advertised concierge’s desk was. Still, the hotel looked nice enough in a kind of moderately budget American motel sort of way, and the rooms are air conditioned.
With a little help from Brillant, the young security guard who is probably in his early twenties and speaks a little English, I got checked in and, after paying the taxi driver $25, and no tip, went to my room. Upon entering, I found it to be somewhat more basic than I expected. Two double beds with a nightstand between them, a tv and refrigerator that look unlikely to work and a wardrobe that’s seen better days. Still it looked clean and it does have an air conditioner stuck in the back wall that I immediately walked over to and turned on. Or tried to. No hum, no buzz, no rattle or shake. Just silence. I returned to the Office to tell Jesula the ac doesn’t work and she smiled and nodded. Welcome to Haiti.
Spent the afternoon trying to get in touch with NGO’s. Finally scored with Partners in Health. They’re coming to pick me up and take me to their home base in Cange, on the central plateau 2 – 3 hours from PaP.