I decided I would keep a journal before heading to Haiti. I wanted to look back on my experiences, Haitian cuisine, the orphans, and my team. Haiti would be the 19th country in my passport, except mine had expired and was in need of renewal. The postmaster in the Mount Horeb, WI post office discouraged me from expediting the renewal, certain that the new one would return within 5 weeks. She was right. I paid my $116.50 in total passport costs and merely waited. A scrub top for the photo–perfect. I looked the part of a medical missionary.
Our flight was leaving O’Hare about 0730 with a connection in Fort Lauterdale, FL, so nearly all of the team wanted to meet at a Quality Inn there, dine, and organize the materials we were taking along. Day 1 of this excursion happened to be July 2nd, my 8th wedding anniversary with Sara. I came home after a 12-hour night shift in the emergency department, napped 3 hours, and headed to the farm. My wife is an excellent planner and had most of my clothes and accessories gathered already. I made a point of not taking anything that I could live without, worried about the risk of it getting stolen or ruined in some fashion. By 3 pm we were leaving my brother’s farm and we arrived at the Quality Inn O’Hare by 1730.
Soon we were having dinner at Bella Sera in the Hotel. I ordered the seafood ravioli and remember that I wanted to lick the plate–it was so incredibly good! Those who know me well know that I am a foodie, married to a foodie: Sara, 1/3rd of thesisterslice.com Topping off my dinner was tiramisu and a Castle Rock pinot noir.
I knew it was not likely I would eat this well in a third world nation for the next 10 days. I don’t believe we had any teetotalers among the group, which made organizing and re-packing all the medical supplies that much more fun. By 2230 we were in bed, brother Adam and I in our room, and I awoke at 0200–mind a flurry of activity, so I decided to go use the hotel’s business computer to log some work on my doctorate.
I was asleep maybe another hour when the alarm went off and we were up. We were on the shuttle headed for the airport by 0430–strong work on the part of the QI staff and drivers. It was no easy task to get all of the team and our 12 bags into the shuttle. It was an easy traverse through security and then to an Americanized breakfast of McDonald’s hot cakes and a venti Mocha latte. I couldn’t imagine there would be a McDonald’s on every street like in the U.S.; but then again, I was surprised to find one in Zermatt, Switzerland and Foix, France too. A couple of hours later we were dining in the Ft. Lauterdale airport before catching our 90 minute flight to Port au Prince. A nice, hot plate of spaghetti and meatballs in my belly helped get me psyched up for culinary conditions unknown once we landed in Haiti. How do you get psyched up for intractable diarrhea in a 3rd world nation?
We knew when we were flying over the Bahamas, a series of islands surrounded by some of the brightest aqua-blue colored water I have ever seen. Minutes later we were touching down in PAP and I thought “We’re not in Wisconsin any more, Toto.” We were greeted by throngs, oceans of Haitians everywhere.