|The team gets ready to check in with 25 suitcases of supplies!|
|Tents still line the streets of Port Au Prince|
|The team looks on at the devastation as our van heads to the hospital|
|Little Jaunito is overwhelmed with joy as he and Shelby exchange hugs!|
|Juanito displays his fantastic grin|
Nine hours of flying sure takes a toll. Whether it's the dry air, the confined space with uncomfortable seats and the feeling like you're in a giant can of diet coke outfitted with wings. The whole concept of flying still baffles my mind. I'm still the one who will see a jet landing or taking off at the airport and instantly revert to my childlike sense of wonder and amazement that something that heavy can propel its way through the air. Even more wondrous is that in less than half a day, one can escape the comfort of running water, electricity, street lights, and enter a poverty stricken disaster zone.
Saturday morning we arrived to Port Au Prince. All of us eager to begin the work we did soon before in May. Seeing the tent speckled landscape from the air was not a surprise. It was a temporary solution for displaced Haitians and is now a permanent fixture. As is the half destroyed buildings teetering on collapse. People congregate below, inside or on top of these Romanesque ruins oblivious of the impeding danger. One hard rain could mean another trauma victim.
In addition to our six team members, this time we managed to fill 25 suitcases full of supplies. They were precariously arranged atop the van provided for our transport which for some reason I didn't second guess, maybe a combination of dehydration and lack of sleep. Our drivers motion for us all to pile into the van and we jump inside. I glanced through the rearview from the front passenger side to see that the luggage was piled three cases high as we sped through the city over potholes and around corners. Hmm, that doesn't look like it's tied down. Then... slam! We hit what technically is considered a pothole but looked a little more like an asteroid collision. Sure enough, I watched to see one of the suitcases go tumbling from atop the van and disappearing from view. I immediately yell to our driver, STOP, a suitcase fell, a suitcase fell!! Realizing afterwards that he probably only understood the word stop. Several seconds later we stop and Allen runs down the street with the driver in the small chance the suitcase is still there. Whew... they got it. This was a relief but it didn't quell the fear that several more went tumbling before that. Should we count our bags?" "Nope," everybody reluctantly agrees. So we continue.
When we arrive to the hospital, a sense of relief washes over. Although the drive and the sights of the city are becoming familiar, the remnants of disaster remain disconcerting. The half destroyed buildings and piles of rubble sit like a snapshot of the earthquake. They poke at your senses and create an uneasiness that you never really get used to.
As we're unloading the van, I hear screams behind me. "Shelby!" I turn around to see that our little friend Juanito and his two brothers are running towards Shelby, all with a huge teeth grin from cheek to cheek! They nearly tackle her over. "You came back!" they exclaim. I found out later that during the first trip she asked if they are related, they said "each of us lost our parents in the earthquake, so we are family now. We look out for each other." We finish unloading and find that everything made it. So begins the work.