Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Getting to Haiti

I had the opportunity to visit Haiti, January 1st - January 9th 2016. Our trip all started in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with two professors from the agriculture department, two grad students from UNI, and 2 former agriculture students from Hawkeye, along with one current student at Hawkeye other than myself. While checking in at the airport, we were asked by the airport staff, “What was bringing us down to Haiti?” We basically told them we were going down for mission work.  Out of nowhere our baggage tags had priority stickers and our seats changed from the economy seats at the back of the plane to first class, without any of us even noticing. We went on with our interesting flight schedule and landed in Chicago, after spending a couple hours in the airport, we continued, looking out the window of the plane, looking down on Chicago at night was amazing. After leaving Chicago we continued to Charlotte, North Carolina, then to Miami where we spent the night.

The next day we finally landed in Port Au Prince, Haiti. Going through the Port Au Prince airport was an interesting experience in itself. I have never been approached by so many people wanting to know if I wanted to buy a souvenir or if we wanted help carrying our bags, but we were told no matter what to tell them no. When they asked for a tip, because they walked you to your car, you politely tell them to talk to your driver, eventually they will give up and leave you alone. Then began the 3 hour ride up the mountains to Cayman, where we were staying. Nothing prepares you for the roads in Haiti because as JeanJean says “Iowa has level B roads and Haiti has level Z roads.” We consider a gravel road in Iowa the worst roads to drive on, driving in Haiti makes our gravel roads feel like an interstate.  Roads in Haiti are dirt roads, with deep roots in the middle of the roads. Improving the roads in Haiti aren’t always a main concern because statistically only 2% of people have cars and 5% have a motorcycle.

After a long bumpy ride we finally arrived and settled. We then took a tour of the UCI Campus. After 10 years, UCI has improved, they now have a university, 7 nutrition centers, 2 worshiping centers, an elementary school, a medical center, and land for university gardens and animals. After our tour of the UCI campus we then went to take a tour of a local farmer’s crop land. The man showed us how he irrigated his gardens, he has raised rows of crops, then runs water through the channels, and he only waters his garden every 15 days.

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