Tuesday, August 30, 2011

That Haiti Feeling

There’s a certain smell to Haiti. A feeling that you get when you step off the plane or out of your comfortable hotel room that tells you “Yep you’re in Haiti

I think you can get this kind of unique feeling in all kinds of places. When I’m in Florida at my Grandparents there is a certain feeling in the air…and its not just the humidity. Or there is the familiar feeling when you step back in your childhood home for the first time in a long time. There was the chocolate smell I always connected with my summers at camp. Or there’s the feeling I had in college when I stepped out of my dorm to go to class. All these feelings, scents and sounds were completely unique and I could close my eyes go to any of these places and know where I was just by the way I feel but Haiti is be far the strongest.
Stepping out of the plane, or hotel room or apartment you are greeted by the various smells of car exhaust combined with people cooking, the feeling of the hot sun and thick air. The sounds of honking, shouting and laughter. The feeling of the constant busy-ness in Port au Prince. I wish I had the words to explain it better but its just something you feel deep down inside.
I feel it every time I step off the plane. I felt it everyday I was living in Port au Prince when I stepped out of my apartment and I feel it now every time I step out of my hotel room. It’s a feeling that’s comforting that says your home,. Its exhilarating and says “you’re in Haiti!” it’s a feeling that also says “take a deep breath and hold on tight because you’re back in Haiti
And this trip was no different. I stepped out of the airport, closed my eyes, took a deep breath - I was back!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On deciding my summer vacation...

At the end of July I went back to Haiti to take a little summer vacation time. In a lot of ways this was a completely selfish visit. I wasn't going back to Haiti for any project or for work or anything. I wasn't going to help anybody but myself I guess. Whenever anyone asked me why I was going to Haiti I just said it was for Vacation...which in a way was true - I did have to take vacation days from work. And I'd get the usual response "Haiti isn't exactly a vacation destination"

Part of me completely understands why people find it funny or weird or offensive to consider a trip to Haiti vacation, or just to be going for yourself, but for me Haiti and my friends there are almost like my home and family. In so many ways going to Haiti to me is no different than visiting my cousins in _____ City, USA. Its not a mission trip, or business trip, its just going to visit people I care about.

Anyway - I hadn't been in Haiti since last November and simply to much time had passed. I had been trying to hold off my return visit to Haiti till the ordination of the seminarians. You might remember before the earthquake I lived at the seminary and attempted to teach English to the seminarians and they have since become good friends of mine. You can remind yourself here or here. I had wanted to be sure I could be there for their ordinations...so I held off on making any visits to ensure I would have enough money for that trip. But rumors of the ordinations being in January quickly turned to rumors of May, to June to July to Late Fall...at which point I had enough. Now this is probably a sign that I need to get a new source, but the thought of not being in Haiti for almost an entire year was too much, and as soon as I heard the news they wouldn't be in July, I began making my plans to go to Haiti ASAP!

Part of this desire to go is this pull that Haiti has over me. For those of you that have been there before you might know what I am talking about. I also think that my experience during the earthquake made this pull inexplicably stronger. Haiti to me is somehow one of the scariest places but also one of the places I feel the most safe. It is a place where I feel the most like an outsider but also one of the few places I feel like I belong. Its a place filled with tragedy but also with a great Joy and one of the places where I am the happiest and most carefree. And I just needed to be there again.

The other reason I decided to finally hop on a plane and go back was because last November my godson(or is it daughter...more on that in a future post) was born and the mom had been waiting to do the baptism so that I could be there. So sometime in Mid-June I just decided that I would go at the end of July and that was it. I called up my friend (the baby's mom) told her I was coming and asked if she could do the baptism while I was there.

I told a few of the seminarians, my old Kreyol teacher and some others that I'd be in Port au Prince and my trip was set...I was just going to go to Port au Prince to go to a Baptism, hangout and just be.

This was the first of my return trips that I hadn't really thought out - hadn't planned too much in advance, and was shocked when the weekend I was leaving came around and I had done almost nothing to prepare - just packed my things the day I was supposed to leave and got on a plane like I was going home for the weekend as easy as that...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My return to blogging

Hey All - so if anyone is out there and still interested in reading this I have a small announcement - I'm going to start blogging again. This is mostly because as I search for news and blogs to keep up with whats happening in Haiti I get irritated by the way Haiti, Haitians, the church etc is portrayed...I'm admittedly a critical person by nature...but really if you visit a town and then write a news piece about it shouldn't you at least spell the name of the town correctly? No one would visit Chicago and then spell it Shicago - its just insulting. So instead of just ranting and complaining to myself I'm going to start trying to write again.

Don't worry I won't use this as my rant forum...well maybe once or twice...but I plan to continue using this as my opportunity to share my own experiences with Haiti and how I view a country and people that I care deeply about.

So if anyone is out there still interested in reading I need a bit of advice as to where to go next - should I continue writing about the trip I took in November in order of all that happened - come back to the November trip at a later date and just write about my most recent July trip - or just randomly tell stories out of in particular time order? Or do something else entirely?

Eh - maybe I will just do what I want - but let me know if there is something like you would like to see me write about. So here's hoping that this return to blogging lasts a bit longer than my last attempt...