Tracking Ed Monroe as he travels to Haiti and other exotic(?) places
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Friday before we leave
Home, sweet home. We are all home, as far as I know but it was an adventure.
My day started about 3 AM EST when my wife woke me up by telling me she had packed her passport and green exit card in the checked luggage that was already on its way by truck to Port-Au-Prince. After that I just laid on the bed until about 4:45 AM when I hear someone making coffee. It turns out that some of the team had just gotten to bed at 3 AM. I’ve sworn to silence and will not divulge names… After our heart breakfast meal of coffee and a breakfast bar, we loaded into Son-Son’s tap-tap, the Toyota trick, and Boyer’s friend’s pick up for the ride to Jacmel airport. Dionne was there to try to sell us some more souvenirs and to see us off. Dick and Barb came along to say Goodbye. We were surprised that there were several Haitians also waiting on a plane. I did not look at the time but a plane appeared and landed, and was followed shortly thereafter by a second plane. Half of our team got on the first plane and the rest on the second plane. Well, that is not true as one of the Haitian’s decided to take the front seat on our charter and there was no seat for our leader, Eric. He finally gave in and got out of the plane and Eric joined our flight. The flight over the mountains was much higher than last year as we were not loaded down with our checked luggage this year. The sun was out and the sky was clear and it is always an incredible view from the air. We landed in Port-Au-Prince at the “commuter” terminal and then the fun began. The first group was waiting inside and we had to carefully watch for our carry-on's so they would not get stolen. Now begins the parade to the far end of the parking lot to catch our transportation. It was not very far but I had to put the fact that our transportation was parked at the back of the lot...
See picture at the top:
Yes, folks, our own Haitian truck. The nose of the load bed is filled with our entire checked luggage so we have to squeeze 25 team members, Boyer, Jean Michael, and Boyer’s brother, Jacky on board. Some of the first ones in climbed on the bags and boxes and we all managed to ride but it was not a comfortable ride. When we arrived at the International terminal we were greeted by the usual crowd of people hawking souvenirs or “wanting to help us” to earn some money. We unloaded and pushed our bags into the line at the front door. I was able to break the tie down on the case with Donna’s passport and card to leave Haiti and we passed through the confusion into the first security check point. After clearing that, we assembled in our usual pile of luggage and people, but the lobby was filled with hundreds of people. We found out that American Airlines had canceled two flights the day before and many of those folks were there. Also, American’s 9:30 AM flight customers were still in line and had not checked in. Long story short we waited from 8:30AM till around 10:45 AM in line for American to check us in. Our next stop is the departure lounge for our traditional Haitian hot dog. As usual, one of the vendors is out of hot dogs, out of this and out of that. Thankfully there are two food vendors. We met with several groups like ours who were departing. One group was from Colorado, one from New York, and one from Northern Illinois (Carroll County). We visited and exchanged information, stories, and emails with all of the groups. I also spoke with a young man who was returning from Haiti to Washington DC. He and his Haitian wife had been to visit relatives. She was staying on but he had to get back for work. He is from Ethiopia and has plans for a medical mission to his home country. He and I exchanged email addresses. About noon, I sent Donna and Debi down to go through the third security check at the boarding area and I followed as soon as there was someone to watch over some team members luggage besides me. The lounge was full and became quite crowded as the time went on. I was introduced to a pharmacist from Tennessee and his wife who had just finished up their fourth medical mission trip. We shared thoughts, ideas, problems and email addresses so we can continue to learn from each other. Our plane was about ½ hour late in arriving in Haiti so we did not board till ½ hour later than planned. Our trip from PAP to Miami was a smooth ride. Most of us sailed through customs and we were surprised to find our tubs had already been off loaded and available when we reached the baggage claim area. Our next stop was American’s desk to recheck our bags. That is where the problems started for Courtney and Leah Barr. American refused their luggage and told them they had to go to the main ticketing area and recheck the bags and totes there. That caused them to miss our flight to Chicago. Eric and Sue Behrens, our team leaders, stayed behind to assist. I understand they made a later flight. Courtney and Leah made the 1o:30 PM Peoria Charter Coach bus and were at home by 2:30 AM. Eric and Sue chose to spend the night in Chicago and caught the first flight out this morning. In all of the rush and confusion of Miami, we did not get to say Good-Bye to Leigh Behrens and Garron and Sharon Lukas. Darn! Some of the team grabbed some food in Miami. Donna and I had a tasty Latte. Our flight to Chicago was on time and very smooth. Once in Chicago, Donna and I grabbed a salad at the McDonald’s in K concourse and hurried to our gate at G-1-b. We had no time to eat at the gate and got right on the plane to Peoria. We were able to finish our food on the plane before it took off. We arrived to COLD Peoria around 10PM CST. It was a cold trip to the car so we could load our bags. They came along, finally and we loaded the car, said our goodbyes, and drove home. Unfortunately, no one had shoveled the several inches of snow off our inclined driveway so I made two passes to get up the hill and into the garage. All was well at home and we got to bed around midnight. Home sweet Home.
This morning we had a nice email from Papa Dick telling us how quiet the building is without a large team’s presence. I have to tabulate the inventory figures and some other book work so I will bring this to an end for today. Just as soon as I get some pictures from team members who brought along cameras, I will post to this blog.
Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. Please consider The Friends of The Children of Haiti if you have some money, time, or talent to share. Our website is: www.fotcoh.org. I can personally testify that all of the money you contribute goes for the care, feeding, and education of the Haitians. God Bless!