Hal In Haiti – Coastal Cruise

Hal Seifert from Lopez Island, Washington has volunteered to spend the next 6 months in Haiti working for Forward in Health. He is in charge of construction of the clinic. All of his expenses are being paid for by Spirit of Hope based in Worcester, Ma. (spiritofhopehaiti.org) The following is from his blog Hal in Haiti (http://halinhaiti.blogspot.com).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Coastal Cruise

Today was a most excellent day. I met Evens and Zico out on the main road at nine. They thought one of them was going to drive my motorcycle, HELL no. We headed west toward the beach for a few miles then headed north on a dirt road. The road was like a river bottom full of softball-sized round rocks. Sometimes there are trails, sometimes not, sometimes they create a quicksand effect, but you always have to drive slow and cautiously on a motorcycle. Plus, it was so dusty, at times I had to slow to a crawl. We were headed out to place that we could have a clinic for a day. I think it was a French run church. Not really sure of the particulars, except they agreed and we are doing it for a day. They will provide lunch and let the community know to come that day. It took about an hour to get there, and on the way I gave a woman a ride, just her and I on a dusty road with land mines everywhere. I was a little nervous, but getting the hang of driving a motorcycle in Haiti. Most people have entire families on their bikes.

After we solidified our plans we headed back to the main road and proceeded to the beach. Now this was the best part, not too much traffic, wide smooth road, 5th gear baby. Saturday is market day, so women are carrying their wares on their heads. As we came to small towns, with the market in full swing, it was like driving through a crowd milling about outside Safeco Field. Weaving and dodging, but everybody is calm like they know what’s going on.

Then the road started to climb into the mountains, smooth, curvy, lined with palm tree, still little traffic, so this why people ride motorcycles so much. Bicycles are cool, but this is really something. As we climb in altitude the road narrows through small villages, people everywhere, all staring at me because I am white. Along the way I kept getting impressions of past experiences, California, Nicaragua, I tell you it was like a dream. At the summit you could see for just about forever, the ocean was turquoise, like those houses painted that color on the way to the coast, that you thought nobody in their right mind would paint their house. There it was-the Caribbean. Tranquil and beautiful. Sliding down the mountain, very few houses and people, quiet and peaceful. Rounding the last curve we entered Port Salut. Cobble stoned streets, walls on each side hiding mansions, luxury hotels ,a coastal resort town.

We arrived at a public beach packed with mostly young Haitians enjoying the sun, beers and seafood. There were a few Europeans, and I spent quite a bit of time talking to UN soldiers here from Uruguay. Though they live in South America and speak Spanish they look European. We spent the day swimming, talking, eating, and resting. Then we returned the way we came and it was just as fun. This is definitely a different Haiti this time around.