Tracking Ed Monroe as he travels to Haiti and other exotic(?) places

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Welcome to Haiti

It’s Tuesday morning at 5:15 AM. The sun will be up in about 30 minutes. I am on the third floor balcony looking out to the Southeast. There is a small boat out on the water with 3 men fishing. The skyline is gray with the morning haze. The small breeze is refreshing and nice. It is probably 15 degrees cooler outside than in side the clinic so it is fun to sit here and watch the sun come up as I type.
On Sunday night at 11PM, I left for the airport. About half way there, I realized that I’d not packed my passport so we turned around and returned home to retrieve it. No matter, our bus did not show up until midnight. It took just a short while to load the bus and we were off on this adventure. The bus ride was uneventful. The DVD of “The Simpson’s” was the movie. I dozed a bit after that as it was hard to doze with the noise. We arrived at O’Hare at 3 AM. There were, already, several people there and a couple of large groups ahead of us in line. When we stated to check in at 4:30 AM we encounter our first problem. American Airlines, with its announced embargo, would not take our tote containers that we had specially purchased in response to that embargo. They told us that totes are, boxes and no boxes are allowed due to the embargo. It took many calls and almost 1 hour before we were allowed to check in. Whew. We managed to get checked in, through TSA security, etc with minimal problems. I had failed to remove my quart sized bag of shave cream so my bags were checked by TSA and I did not loose the product. Fortified by Starbucks coffee, we got on a full flight to Miami and arrived on time at the D concourse. Our next flight, in 3 hours was from the “A” concourse and that meant a 20 minute walk between terminals for our exercise. We ate lunch at the Mexican restaurant and Jane Mai, a second year medical student from Tampa, met up with us. She is a lovely young oriental who, influenced by meeting Dr. Paul Farmer, was inspired to work in Haiti and found out about our team. She is friendly and personable and will be a great asset. On a side note, this team has come together quite well and it will be another fun adventure.
Our plane was late and full leaving Miami. What else is new? When we arrived in Haiti, we cleared immigration in record time and I complimented the agent on the swiftness of the process. That was a mistake as it took more than 1 hour for our plane to be unloaded and, to our joy and surprise, our containers were the last to be unloaded in typical Haitian fashion. Now the process begins of getting your bags and boxes and get through customs. Someone else had my container so I switched with her and faced the music. After I had to show the agent how to open the ties-much to his surprise, he merely pawed through the box, picked up the bag of very powerful injectables, much to my dismay, and promptly put them back neatly and I was on my way. About 8 of us seemed to be targeted for inspection but no seizures and no customs charges. Yeah!. We departed the terminal, into the mob of people and our Haitian helpers guided us to the truck that would take our luggage to Jacmel and also take us to the small airport. We loaded up, like sardines in a can, and raced to the other end of the airfield. It too Carbintair about 45 minutes of Haitian stalling for us to get on the two small planes for our 18 minute flight over the mountains to Jacmel. Dick, Barb, Bruce, Dan, and, of course, Digone met us at the Jacmel end. We loaded our carryon and ourselves into the two trucks for the short trip to the clinic. Jean Michel, Eric and I rode the back bumper and Jean Michele and I chose to walk from the min road back to the clinic as Son Son’s Tap-Tap was dragging bottom as we drove over the rough rocky ground. It was fun to spend that time with Jean Michel, one of our main men, here in Haiti.
The clinic was as clean as ever and the new team members marvel at our luxurious accommodations. I began to uncover the pharmacy and prepare it to open. We ate one of my favorite meals, Thanks to our Haitian cooks, of tomatoes, onions, lobster in a stew, with rice and beans and pickly, the hot Cole slaw. It was a nice welcome. Our main bags arrived at 10 PM and we had them broken down in about a half hour. There was some leakage of shampoos inside the bags and boxes but no real damage that I can see. A quick note to the pharmacy committee that the new light bulb did not solve the problem with the pill counting machine so I will have some one here look at it but I will not count on it for this mission. Soon it will be breakfast and off to work. We give thanks to God for our safe journey here and for the many blessings He bestows on us.


John K said...

Thanks for the update Ed. We will keep you all in our prayers. I'm glad you made it through customs and didn't lose any supplies.

Anonymous said...

Ed, thanks so much for keeping us up to date! We are thankful to the Lord that you all made it safe and sound.

--Team family member back home

Anonymous said...

CONGRATs on getting though customs!!!! I was one of those people for April, and I can relate to that feeling in the pit of your stomach when "they" pick up those all important meds!
Katie Koehler