Stream of Thoughts

Do I want to be part of change in Haiti? Yes and then again no. Do I want to see living conditions better, schooling for children, people feeling that they have a future? yes, I do. Do I want to see the current community and family structures torn apart by the craziness of technology and other modern day issues, a resounding no! Is the Haitian culture strong enough to withstand what Americans could not? The toys of modern culture that have invaded our lives to a degree where I am typing on an iPhone inside a tap tap on the way to Port Au Prince. We are on our second trip to Port Au Prince to try and fix this passport mess I have gotten us into, by losing them within an hour of landing in Haiti. If I hadn’t been to Haiti so many times this process would be upsetting but; Haiti is Haiti with all the dust, traffic chaos and lack of time, I love it. Do I get frustrated? Without a doubt! Is there anything I can do about it? Yep, just remind myself I am in Haiti and relax. Right now we are in our second tap tap of the morning with several more to follow, just hoping to get to Port Au Prince for the 8 o’clock meeting at the embassy. 7:27 still in the second tap tap, very concerned about getting there on time, I can tell Esaie is to, every time we stop he knocks on the drivers window to get him going again. We are due to leave on Sunday a mere 6 days away. Am I ready to leave, not really, reality is going to hit hard.
We get out of the tap tap into the insane streets of Port Au Prince. I have been trying to find the words to describe to you the utter chaos that is Port Au Prince for. One risks their life with every move they make: crossing the street, riding in tap tap or on motorcycle. Because of our hurry we decide to take motorcycles to the embassy. Good lord, it was like being in a movie, swerving in and out of cars, tap taps, buses and trucks, oh and other motorcycles. Passing into on coming traffic, driving down the middle of two lanes of traffic. Goats, dogs and people all to be avoided at this breakneck pace. Dust filling our noses and blinding you as is rises up from the tires of others vehicles. I have not been this scared of anything in a very long time, if ever. I was petrified for myself and with every swerve we made to avoid something i became scared that the moto carrying Esaie and Charlie wouldn’t avoid it. My fear was doubled with my stomach in my throat, to scared to close my eyes but petrified to keep them open, I spent a lot of time looking down and to the right. Not sure why the looking down or to the right, but it was one of the physical reactions I was having. Arrival that the embassy was welcome relief! At the first security gate they would not let Esaie through he argued with them as they had let him through last time, to no avail. Charlie and I went into the building alone and found that I couldn’t have Esaie’s cell phone or my no service iPhone. Back out we went to hand them through the fence to a very surprised Esaie. In again, they looked for our names on the appointment list. They didn’t see them. At this point I decided that playing the poor foreigner was not working for me and my American teeth came out. I insisted we have an appointment and to let us through. Once out of the building we began the approach to the next, there was a line of 75 – -100 people waiting for what I don’t know. Oh don’t tell me we need to wait in this mess! I walk bold as brass to a security guard and told him I have an appointment and am a US citizen. He told us to go right in, luckily charlie is not seeing anything upsetting to him, it is just like any other time with mom, “She has it all under control” (so he thinks). We enter the second building and get directions from security as to where to go. Let me cut this shorter, after two hours of waiting with a five year old who is freezing in the air conditioning and going back and forth with agents they wouldn’t issue Charlie’s passport with out a paper that Robbie sent FedEx that we hadn’t picked up yet because the flight fedex was on hadn’t come yet. A paper I was sure was wrong, but I had to take the chance. We left having been told that we can come back before 2:30 with the paper and they would issue the passport.
It is shortly after leaving the embassy that things get crazy again. Esaie and I knew that FedEx is located near the back side of the airport but keep in mind getting to any place in Haiti without a private car is a challenge. We started in tap tap, made a quick stop at Deli Mart (more on that to follow), jumped in a van crammed with people and made our way across port au prince. Only to be dropped off at they end of the van route, to find a tap tap and be dropped of 15 min later at a motorcycle stand. where the negotiations on the fare to FedEx began. Several drivers later we had an agreement with two drivers. The routine as usual is me on one bike, Esaie and Charlie on the other. Keep in mind I said I was scared that morning on the moto, so how do I adequately describe the absolute terror I was in for this final stage of the trip to FedEx. If I were a cat my nine lives would have all been sucked up in that one ride from hell. He was driving at a breakneck pace in heavy traffic, several times we were almost eaten by an on coming traffic that he insisted on passing into and driving down the middle of. My knees brushed the sides of cars as we went down the middle of traffic. Switching from pavement to dirt didn’t change his speed at all, he wiped around pot holes, dodged other vehicles, all in all just scared me to death. Upon arrival at FedEx Esaie spoke to me and I just couldn’t even answer, my hands were trembling and I felt like my insides were jello. And to think that driver was waiting outside to take me back was enough to do me in. Esaie asked what was wrong when I told him to wait until I stopped shaking. I told him how scared I had been for me and for them. He said he and Charlie’s driver was not as bad, I then told him that we could not change drivers, I would not have Charlie on the same moto with my driver. I would rather be terrified out of my mind than have my son on there. Esaie spoke to my driver and told me that maybe he was driving that way to get me to hold on to him, which to that point I had not done, instead I held onto the moto. So new plan, hope the driver listened to Esaie and hold onto the driver. We started out doing a little better, but old habits die hard and soon we were the holy terror of the road again. So back we went: tap tap, bus, moto and embassy were they told me the paper wasn’t good enough. I asked them if they thought Haiti needed a white five year old to stay because that is how they were behaving. They said that they had to have the parent form filled out and notarized, not signed by a justice of the peace, for him to get the passport. I said I am aware of that since we just did it a few months ago. Did they think Robbie would want Charlie to stay in Haiti? They insisted on the correct paper, they suggested we FedEx it at which time I informed this innocent American girl that works in the embassy, that is costs $55.00 to send a FedEx to Haiti and several days. I also told her what we go through to get to Port Au Prince; I don’t think she got it, seeings how they live in Port Au Prince in US Embassy lodging and never step foot in a tap tap or put their ass on a moto. I finally got them to agree to accept an emailed copy of the form, they sent the blank to Robbie he would have notarized and email back. As soon as it came in they would print the passports and call me. So Monday ended with no passports and a new fear of motorcycles. Tuesday afternoon the call came that the passports are ready for pickup and again on wednesday Esaie and I traveled to Port Au Prince, leaving Charlie behind and not using any motorcycles we picked up the passports.

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