Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm home!

We made it! Our flight out of Port-au-Prince was on time yesterday, and we were only slightly delayed out of Miami, arriving in Minneapolis about 25 minutes behind schedule. Dan's brother, Ryan, kindly collected us from the airport, so we were whisked home in no time. When I was going to bed last night, I realized I had been awake for almost 21 hours! No wonder I was so tired. :)

We were able to get outside the guesthouse grounds on Friday, thank goodness! We went to pick up Mme Florette, the director of CEPAM (the Methodist home for the aged, for whom we made the chairs,) and brought her back to the guesthouse for a short chat. She loves the chairs, and showed us pictures of the residents of CEPAM. We are very disappointed that we did not have the opportunity to meet the old ladies (and one old man!), although we learned the population of CEPAM has blossomed to 13 residents . . . we'll have to make more chairs next time!!

After we dropped Mme Florette off, we stopped at a supermarket (that was actually open!) to pick up coffee, peanut butter, and vanilla to bring home, and other essentials for a large lunch feast. Friday afternoon, many of us rode over to the Caribbean Market, another large supermarket, to pick up any last essentials we were unable to get at the other grocery store. Dan and I spent our last Gourdes on a six-pack of coconut soda -- YUM! Dan and I also walked the (very) long way home, and stopped at the largest outdoor market in Petion-Ville. We did not attract too much attention as "blancs," (which Hatians call all foreigners, regardless of their skin color,) but I think we were smart in leaving our backpacks and cameras at the guesthouse, which made us look less like "tourists."

While we were out on Friday, we noticed many signs of the manifestations from earlier in the week -- many buildings, including our neighboring gas station, had smashed windows and were boarded up, and there were tell-tale black marks on the street where the protestors had burned piles of old tires. Desptie this, things seemed to be calm and back to normal, at least for the time being. (Although no gas stations were open, which is why we were unable to drive anywhere far away on Friday -- we needed to make sure we had enough gas left to get to the airport Saturday!)

Friday evening and Saturday morning, we had a parade of visitors through the guesthouse. Many of the friends of the partnership stopped by to say good-bye, and many brought us thank-you gifts -- beautiful wooden boxes, mangoes, and young coconuts!

This morning, I've learned that the Hatian Prime Minister has been removed from his position, and some have been describing it as a beginning of the fall of the current government. We'll have to watch the news and see how things unfold. It does look like the government has put some measures in place for immediate aid, which will help drop food prices and allow people to eat again. While we were waiting for our flight out of Port-au-Prince yesterday, we were able to see Preval on television again, with the Prime Minister and other members of the government. How we wished we had an interpreter, so we could know what was going on! (Although Deidre has a basic understanding of Creole and I have excellent French that is pretty rusty, it was just too tricky for the two of us to figure out.) It looks like we got out of the country just in time -- things may get worse, before they get better, although I hope not.

I plan to post photos over the next couple of days, once I have time to organize everything! Stay tuned.

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