Avoiding Chaos

Trip Start Aug 19, 2003
Trip End Feb 20, 2004

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Flag of Haiti  ,
Saturday, September 27, 2003

First off, I want to thank everyone for the crazy amounts of mail! To Sue thank you for the wonderful package with all the goodies that made my mouth hit the floor. To Aunt Dot for the beautiful letter, congrats to Bobby and the new house. To Mom for all the letters I loved them everyone! To Dad for the postcard, letter and two great books! To Lisa for the pretty letter, I loved the religious items sticker on the front and thanks for all the news! I apologize for not writing more handwritten letters but I don't believe they are making it to their destinations. I know most people got the letters I sent back with the trainee that left but I don't believe that anyone has received the letters I sent from Haiti (about 4 weeks ago). I think the post office takes the cash and uses the letters for fuel!! I will keep up the e-mails and please keep sending me snail mail. It only takes about 6 days for your letters to get here so keep them coming they brighten up my day immensely and make all the other trainees jealous! Last night I returned from a weeklong field trip to Northern Haiti. All of the agricultural PC trainees went to a town called Limbe where we learned about tree nurseries and erosion. Last Monday I woke up at 4:30am to get to the public bus pickup point by 7:00am. We didn't wait long by Haitian standards (1 and a half hours) before boarding a brightly painted former school bus for a four hour ride from Archaie to Limbe (about 60 miles through the mountains on unpaved roads). Unfortunately I found myself on a seat bench with five of the largest guys in the group on a seat that usually seats 4 but in Haiti seats 6 so Dale, Evan, Fred, Pat, me and an unlucky Haitian! Our ability to move was compromised will we were bombarded with heat and dust from the open windows. The Haitian behind us thought it appropriate to lean over our seat and stick his head out of our window while occasionally elbowing Pat and I about the head in neck. He quickly told him to "chita" (sit down) and luckily he sat back down. I wont say that it was the most uncomfortable I have ever been but it was close! Happily we arrived in Limbe before too long and enjoyed wonderful food and mountains with trees, a rarity in Haiti. The place we stayed at is run by the ministry of Agriculture. They taught us about erosion barriers made of stone, grass and trees, contour lines, A frames, tree nurseries, and run off prevention. We also met a few Peace Corps volunteers who are working hard. We saw how one of them lives and I have to say, not too shabby! She has a large yard, four bedrooms, a water source, and beautiful furniture. We sat in on an English class that she was teaching. The students excitedly practiced their English on us. It was great fun. Back at our "guest house" we had plenty of time to hang out and relax while getting to know each other better while enjoying terrific food for a change. Sarah Brett sends her love to her family who I believe might be reading this!! Some scary news. . .Last Monday, after we were safely in Limbe, a man who was supposed to be in prison was murdered/assassinated in the town of Gonayiv. He was the former leader of the group OP and he had ties to Aristid's political party, Lavalas. We received word that we would not be able to return to Archaie through Gonayiv which meant that we would have to travel north through Cap Haitian, southeast through Hinch and west to Sant Marc. Public transportation can not handle these roads so two Peace Corps Landcruisers were sent from Port-au-Prince to take us home. Yesterday, we left Limbe at 9:30am and began the hardest off-roading imaginable. For the next 10 hours (that's right 10 hours) we endured a ride that would make the off road races in Baja look tame. One of my fellow trainees, Bird, said, "Here we are in Haiti, tearing through the country where there are no roads, listening to Led Zepplin, who would of thought. Sure beats a day job!" We saw some the most picturesque parts of Haiti when our heads weren't banging on the ceilings with each absurd bump. 21 of us were stuffed into two Landcruisers, 16 volunteers, 3 staff, two drivers, and only 3 people got sick (they will remain nameless)! We successfully bypassed all the chaos in Gynavye and were tucked in bed safely at home by 8pm. My host mom was very happy to see me a day early and I was very happy to be home. So now I sit in the only AC anywhere near my house and relate my adventures to all of you! Internet is an all day affair but it makes my happy to be able to write to you all and to check the scores for the Redskins and Syracuse! All the best to all!
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