Sunday, August 5, 2012


Haiti has once again reminded me that this is a country of extremes.  I woke up this morning still exhausted from a long weekend of travel and surveying to find a view out my window so spectacular I almost think I’m anywhere but Haiti.  The morning sunrise was dashing across a far off mountain green with recent rains.    How can a country so deforested, so eroded and so dirty also give a scene so completely spectacular as this?

Thursday I hopped a plane in South Dakota bound for Fort Lauderdale.  Upon a midnight arrival in Fort Lauderdale I had exactly 90 minutes of sleep before I was once again off to the airport to catch a 6 AM flight Haiti bound.  I caught another puddle jumper plane from Port au Prince to Pignon and was greeted by Raynold and the most beautiful smile of my adopted son Kiki.  His dad also greeted me and said he had a report card to show me!

Over lunch with Neil we called ahead to where we would be surveying the next day and found out the guys from the government water ministry, DINEPA were there now!  So we bumped up the plans and were strapped to a 4-wheeler careening around busted dirt road corners at a breathtaking pace with about 300 lbs of luggage, weirs and surveying equipment strapped on. 

Raynold was at an engineering seminar in Cap Haitien so his assistant, Gidel was my student for the weekend.  But as it turned out I added 2 to my classroom as the DINEPA guys joined us for the survey!   They seemed intrigued when we showed them the plans from our previous water system on Friday.  They elected to make the 2 hour drive on a Saturday to meet us by 7 AM in Dondon.  We trekked up to the spring and surveyed the 2 miles or so back to town.  I had them running bacteria tests at the spring, measuring the flow, and running both abney and dumpy level surveys.  We usually survey in a rotation so everybody gets a turn at each of the jobs.  But I was soon out of the rotation because they wanted every minute of experience they could get.   It was a great feeling to just walk down the mountain and watch an all-Haitian crew at work.

Surveying with the DINEPA guys

Measuring the spring flow

Gidel ran us ragged from 5:30 AM until 8 PM.  We carried a survey line in from 3 different springs and cris-crossed the town too!  The plan was to survey Saturday and Sunday but I think he had pressure from home to be back for church Sunday morning and I wasn’t going to stand in his way as long as the survey was as complete and accurate as it could be.   The poor guys that were helping us with the survey were sleep walking with survey poles the last 4 hours.  But we bought them lunch and paid them wages for 2 days work. As we left they were begging us to call them up when we return.

Last night in Dondon we slept in the upstairs of an old abandoned house.  We arrived to find 2 beds and only 1 old dirty sheet.  I told Gidel to take the bed with the sheet but he insisted I take it.  So to protect myself from malaria ridden mosquitos I wrapped myself in it and fell asleep.  As I fell asleep I made a list to bring a towel, clean sheets and a mosquito net next time. 

There was a well nearby where we carried our water up to the bathroom with a bucket.  The bathroom was disgusting as usual and it was bucket showers standing on a slimy, stinky slab of concrete again.  It may be just these moments where I am subjected to the disgusting reality of sanitation in Haiti that motivate me to keep coming back and building for the future of Haiti.  These poor children deserve better than this.

My reward for finishing early was a night in the Haiti Outreach guest house.  It was clean, had lights and a shower with water from above!  Anne Marie even made us pumpkin soup for breakfast, what a treat!  I’ll spend today teaching Raynold AutoCAD and tomorrow morning I’ll be off to Fort Jacques to prepare for a survey with my business partners James and Stuart.  We will be working near where I lived while in the Peace Corps.  I’m hoping to stay with my host family for a night.  If that happens I’m sure there will be more stories to come so stay tuned!

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