Friday April 4, 2008
Hello from Haiti. I am starting this at the departure lounge of Air France and it is about the time we were to be flying out of Fort Lauderdale to Chicago on our way home. Today has not been a good travel day so far. It started around 5:15 AM when I awoke to the first light streaming in my window and my good buddy, Sparkey the rooster, calling out the breaking of dawn. I went out and started the coffee and then traveled up to the third floor to put away my computer. It was after 10:30 PM when I finally got to bed. I had left the computer hooked up as it was used by several of the team to email and check on things while we were at the clinic. Around 6:45 AM we assembled and boarded Son Son’s tap tap and Dick’s truck for the trip to Jacmel airport. Our plane was to be in at 8:00 AM. We had chartered a special Tortug Air flight and there was only 1 seat unfilled for our return trip. Here is where the problems started. The Tortug plane arrived at 8:15 AM and there was no Tortug employee to check and load the baggage or to check us in. Fortunately the pilot and co-pilot did the check in and the employees of another airline did the bags. We had a nice flight to Port-Au-Prince (PAP) at the airport for the local planes. We got our bags and took 3 vehicles to the main airport. There was a larger than normal crowd at the airport entrance and we should have suspected problems. Boyer did not have his passport and was not allowed to enter into the airport with us so we waved good bye. He had some business in PAP and was returning by bus to Jacmel. After we were in an long line for over an hour we found out that our 11:00 AM American Airlines flight had been canceled. We managed to get some one at American to rebook most of us on the 6:00 PM flight on Air France that we are presently waiting for in this lounge. It is 4:30 PM as I type this but it is quiet and comfortable so the time will pass quickly, I hope. Linda and Renee managed to get booked on the American flight at around 4 PM and well be back in Chicago yet this evening. It is just pulling out now and is late. Some of the team’s cell phones worked so we first called Dick to alert him to the problem then we began to text message family and friends in the USA for assistance. Some cell phones worked and some did not. American did give us food vouchers so we had the famous PAP hot dog, the 16 oz soda and, after a very long wait, some pomme fries (French fries). I got a message to my son and I hope he was able to reach my wife. I will be sure to call her from the USA. At Miami we will likely split up as some of the team will stay in the area for a couple of days, Diana heads off for Nashville and the rest of us will head to Fort Lauderdale for an 8 AM flight to Chicago. Katie and I will then get a 1:30 PM flight to Peoria, or at least I hope so. There appears to be three other groups of American missionaries on this flight and they were booked on the American flight that was canceled. One team was doing a construction project and I am not sure what the other team was doing. We are trying text message to get American’s phone number so they will pay for our hotel in the US tonight. Every one is tired. All of this waiting around drags a person’s spirit down. The team has shopped the gift shop and is mentally ready to be home. I am typing this on my laptop in Microsoft Word so I can publish it later when I get an internet connection. A funny thing about this airport, there are no landing lights here so we have to leave before dark or not leave at all. Papa Dick had made arrangements at the Wall’s Guest House in case we would have had to spend tonight in PAP. He was relieved that we would be getting out of Haiti tonight. Our leader and I agree that FOTCOH needs to purchase a Digicel phone for use here in Haiti so we can get better communications while we are here. We were so lucky that two of the 14 team member’s cell phones would work. Quick aside, one of the construction team members came over and gave Diana an Eastern Kentucky University hat. That is where Diana has applied for entrance into their nursing program. It is a small world, indeed.
Back to our flight fun, we hope to get to Miami by 9:30 and clear customs by 10:30 PM. Then we will decide if we go straight to the Fort Lauderdale airport and how we will do that. Liz wants to get a hotel room as she has a wedding to attend tomorrow in Chicago. At this point we have yet to decide whether to get a room or just cap out at the airport. It will be a short night in any event. The Air France plane has landed and I will save this for later.
It is 5 AM on Saturday and I am sending this from s hotel on Fort Lauderdale, FL. Details to follow soon.