Monday, August 1, 2011

Test drive of emotions

I cleaned and packed all night for Haiti. I had to get rid of everything in the fridge and do all the dishes....and boy were there a lot of dishes to be cleaned. I had a whole list of things to do for the apartment before I left. The most important things were to turn off the gas, electricity, and water. So I am frantically cleaning and packing until 2am in the morning and then unplugging all the plugs around the apartment. I finally got all my bags packed and weighted, each weighing around 24kg...dooh. Oh well, I'll push my luck at the airport. I was too tired to do anything. I tried to go to bed for like two hours before I had to get up again, but that didn't work out so well. So got up again at 5am to do the last check-ups of the apartment. I turned off the water and the gas. Kiko and Tony came and got me at 6:30am. We loaded all the bags and I pushed the red button in the power box. See you next year my little apartment.

We drove for about three hours to get to Orly Airport in Paris. It was a little bit stressful with all the morning Paris traffic, but we got through okay. It did not help I had a huge pounding headache in the car, must be due to the lack of sleep. I was a little bit stressed out about the bags, but it turns out luck was on my side, 23.1 and 23.8 kg. The lady was really nice to me and let me through with all my bags without charging me a fee. I said goodbye to the boys and went on my way to the terminal. Everything was stalled at every single section of the airport. I finally got through and sat down to wait for boarding to start. I was exhausted, but it was only the beginning of the trip. The 9 hour flight to Point-a-Pitre was full of turbulence and obstacles. First of all, we waited on the plane for 30min before leaving the terminal, then when we were about to take off on the run-way, we hit a technical difficulties stage. We had to roll all the way down the run-way to the other side and back to the parking area for plane check-ups. The air in the plane was not functioning properly, so we were all sweating bullets. After about 40 minutes at the parking area, we finally were ready to head back to the run-way again. We took off without a hitch, but the monitors were not working. They didn't work at all on the duration of the flight, I guess it was PUSA's way of telling me that I needed to sleep and not do anything else. I haven't been able to sleep on planes for a while now, but this time I succeeded. I got about around four hours of pretty good rest and it helped with my giant headache. The service was quite disappointing for an Air France flight, but it was okay. So we were two hours late to get to Point-a-Pitre, Guadalupe, we ended up having only 10 minutes before the plane was leaving for Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We all got to go to a special section and into a special emergency door to get to the boarding zone directly. It was really nice treatment, but kind of sad that I didn't get to receive a stamp from Guadalupe. Oh well, there's always next time. We got on the plane to go to Haiti and it was not too bad. It wasn't until we were about to land that things started to get tricky. We touched down and almost touch the run-way surface and then the pilot pulled the nose up again and we were climbing up to the air. Everyone was panicking and didn't know what happened. It was going super fast and there was an announcement there was a problem and we shall be updated on the status shortly. Yeah, those are not good words to say when we are circling mid-air. We made a couple of rounds and finally the pilot said we are able to land now. We safely landed in Haiti and everyone cheered with applause. It was good to be on land I must say.

So got to the airport. Turns out all the luggage from the Paris flight did not make it so had to fill out a sheet to reclaim them when they do get here. Let's hope it comes in tomorrow or the next day. Let's keep our fingers crossed. Yup, welcome to Haiti. It's quite normal here. Got out of the airport terminal and someone at the gate grabbed my bag and said "you are super late, hurry, we have to go meet the director." I had not idea what was going on, I chase after him asking where we were going and to get my bag from him. He said the orphanage and that we had to find the director. I asked how does he know who I am? and what was my name? he changed the subject. That was when I knew something was up. Something was not right about this fellow. He didn't have a sign with my name on it. So I got my bag and walked away from him toward the crowd of people who had signs. Finally found my name and that guy followed us to the car. Turns out he just made up a whole story to get some money for helping me find who I really needed to find. They are not dangerous people, just wanted money, but it was still a little bit unnerving. I was tired, so that experience was not so pleasant. Learned from that for sure. Do not let strangers take my bags at the airport!

So his name is Roberto, the driver for the orphanage in Lamardelle, Haiti. It was 7pm at nighttime when we left the airport. Turns out we had to pick up two children and two caretakers, they call them "aunties" here. They were out to Delmas for the day with medical check-ups. We got to the Delmas office and it was completely pitch dark. I went to the bathroom and found what I thought resembled a toilet...I hope it was a toilet. We left for Kenscoff shortly after and it took about 2.5 hours to get there with the traffic. Haiti looked beautiful at night time though. It wasn't often that I got to see the night views, especially from atop. Kenscoff is about 5,000 ft up and the temperature is very cool due to mountain terrains. We got to the Duncans' house at around 10pm and chatted with an adoptive family, their children, and the Duncans. Had a quick meal and headed to the sleeping quarters around midnight. I took a freezing cold shower, since there was no power from the generators. Got into bed and called it a night. I needed to get up early tomorrow.

First night in Haiti....what an adventure it has been. I can't wait for tomorrow to start.


  1. WOW!! What a first day on your advanture. Sure you will have a challenge and fruitful trip ahead of you. Share more with us. Can't wait to read your story next time. Take care.

    Tzu-Chi SG Michelle with love from Vancouver, WA

  2. What a hectic adventure! Still, I am glad that you finallly safely arrived Haiti. Hope you can take a break though I don't think you can. Oh, well....don't forget to breathe at least!

    Love mom+

  3. Lori little Sister, you may not remember me now. I am James SB at Portland Tzu Chi. We met at the farewell party for your mom early this year, and then later at the Kirkland Senior Home for Chinese New Year party wher I've received complement from you that evening for helping with the entertainment program.
    Lori, I must say that it was a overwhelming emotion I've never had in my 64 years of life upon reading most of your Haiti Diary during that first month of your trip. I've never known a young lady who could give so much yet still has a heart that is so full of selfless love. As you may know, I am pretty new to Tzu Chi and honestly I am still not very sure about what I can do or can't do here. But your stories have just shown that nothing is too hard to be done.
    Okay. I 've said too much. For now, I just wish you the best and do take good care of yourself. I know all the SGs and SBs here would pray for your health and safety. So, be Well!