My bike ride is done, and it was super fun, although predicatably hard at times given the heat and whatnot! I LOVE Warmshowers.com, the hospitality website for people who are doing touring rides across the country (foreign countries as well). I stayed with so many wonderful, nice, and interesting people along the way from NC to FL!
Here's an update on my day in Haiti so far:
After a long delay due to mechanical issues, my 8:30 AM flight finally left at 3 PM. I had a good flight, and all the Haitians waiting at the terminal were super friendly and had lots of energy. They were apparently discussing the whole topic of Wycliffe Jean running for Haitian President.
Anyway, I was relieved that the airport wasn't as crazy as things in India or Nepal. (Ebeth and I traveled there earlier this year). I found Amy, my SOIL person, relatively quickly. There were also some Mennonite folks arriving that day so I thought that was interesting. One group was MCC and another seemed to be a conservaitve Mennonite group (a woman had the head bonnet thing on and said she was Mennonite). I had thought to myself if I couldn't find Amy, I could go with the Mennonites and use their resources to find out where Amy and the SOIL group are. (If for instance, the lateness of my flight screwed things up with the SOIL schedule). Of course, everything was fine.
One thing that was scarier (but still fun) than INdia/Nepal was the motorcycle ride to SOIL's office and my lodging. THe roads were worse than Nepal, many were unpaved and very rocky/bumpy, and it's noticeably hilly. The trash isn't nearly as bad as India and Nepal which is also nice. Just based on what I have seen, it will be easier to adjust here than India/Nepal. I think I will like it a lot here. I've met a lot of neat people at the place I'm staying. SOIL doesn't have room for me at their offices, and I'm staying just two blocks away at a "Coalition House" shared by several NGOs. I currently have a room to myself with three beds in it, and two fans. I'm most excited about having a fan. That is great! Makes a HUGE difference. Also, there is an internet place right across the street, and on the top floor people have computers with internet access. I'm at the cafe across the street now.
Tomorrow I fly to Cap Haitien, a town in the north, where SOIL originally started. Their operations up there are now largely Haitian-run and managed, which is a good thing. Cap is definitely supposed to be less hectic than Port-au-Prince, and there is even a super fun festival in Cap this weekend that I should be able to go to. It'll be interesting to see what I will get involved with up north, in terms of projects and helping out. I'm planning to meet with the Haiti MCC (Mennonite Central Committee - an organization that does development work, mostly by supporting local initiatives) at the end of August and I'm curious if anything fruitful will come out of MCC learning more about SOIL. I really think their goals and methods line up very, very well and at the minimum I think they would both be glad to know that the other exists and be encouraged by that.
That is all for now. Love to you all,