Today we landed in Port Au Prince, Haiti. The crowding, the poverty, the devastation and everything we read about before we arrived was worse in person. The terminal is still being rebuilt, so we stopped on the tarmac and took Heathrow-style standing-room buses to customs. At customs we lined up for papers check, which went smoothly enough, then retrieved our bags. A guy hired by the orphanage met us in customs--things are thankfully more lax here, and helped us get to our driver. We walked through an unbelievably crowded parking lot past hundreds of men yelling "Taxi" until we got to the van we were to ride in.
Our driver was awesome. He slithered the van through jerking and darting cars, vans and SUVs getting us out of the airport without incident. Clear of the airport we spent the next two hours traveling about 50 miles to the orphanage. The roads near Port au Prince are potholes, craters and ditches with strips of pavement between then. Buses, Mack trucks, vans, cars, and motorcycles swing and wind back and forth across the roads. The buses are packed to the rook with people on top and hanging on the side. They look like hippos and elephants dancing as they sway and swerve from hole to ditch.
As we got further from town the roads got better and better. The houses started to have roofs, some at least, and people started to look a little better fed. The traffic laws are Darwinian--biggest vehicle right of way--but our driver was great. He passed when he could, hung back when he couldn't and anticipated the near misses with barely a twitch--more difficult in a van that moaned and groaned with shock absorbers long dead or maybe missing and springs at least 50,000 miles past and real rebound strength.
Our host at the first orphanage was Heather, a blond bundle of energy who runs an orphanage for about 75 babies. All of the babies are abandoned, terminally ill or both. She has ten adopted children of her own and decided God was calling her to live in Haiti and run her own orphanage. She left a full-time career in advertising for Haiti, but travels back to the states a half-dozen times a year to work on TV ads and help to pay the bills. And you can help her out: www.givinghopehaiti.org
We then went to the mission next door where we will stay. They care for children who are amputees or have birth defects. Finally we went to the orphanage where our future son Wenky lives. This orphanage is run by a local woman who was an orphan herself and decided to create her own orphanage after the earthquake.