We just crested Goat Mountain, slowly but surely. As we came around a sharp curve to the left, we passed by a large dump truck that just crashed and is lying on its side in the ditch in front of oncoming traffic! A young boy is using a shovel to dig out under the driver’s side door. We can’t see if the driver is still in the truck or if he’s been able to climb out the passenger window. Accidents like this happen regularly throughout Haiti – whether it’s a large truck or motorcycle. A lot of them are in “Tap-Taps” – the preferred method of transportation. Tap-Taps are small, brightly colored pick-up trucks, with benches in the back to carry people and belongings. They are covered to keep people from getting wet when it rains, and they’re also usually covered with Scripture verses. They’re called Tap-Taps because passengers knock twice on metal or wood when they want the driver to stop and let them off. A popular saying in this country is, “How many Haitians can you get in a Tap-Tap?” The answer is “Just one more!” This is all too true, unfortunately, and a lot of deadly accidents happen in these overloaded vehicles.
We just passed through Cange, way up in the Haitian mountains. There is a huge medical facility in this area founded by Dr. Paul Farmer of Harvard University. Doktè Pòl,” as he is known far and wide in Haiti, is a good-hearted and brilliant doctor who has spent much of his life in service to the Haitian people. This is one of the most advanced medical facilities in all of Haiti.
Driving these mountain roads at nighttime is a little harrowing, but Hugues is managing things well. It’s just hard to see, and you have to carefully watch out for adults and children walking along both sides of the road, donkeys, cows, trucks, motorcycles and cars. It’s the cows that tend to cause a lot of accidents. They’re not the brightest animals in the kingdom, and they’re prone to sudden moves that make it hard for a vehicle to dodge them. Fortunately, we have not had any close calls with cows today. And, wonderfully, we are still on paved roads!
We just pulled into Hinche where Hugues has to take a work call. One of his eighteen-wheelers, with a very large backhoe tied to it, has broken down. After a 30-minute stop we’re out of Hinche, but we’re back on the hardscrabble roads in complete darkness. I don’t think I’ve ever ridden in a vehicle in such inky blackness, when the only lights you see are your own headlights. Right now all I can think about is “holding on for dear life.”
I’m praying for 2 things. The first is that we’ll somehow get off this horrible road soon. The second is that we won’t have another blowout. The thought of that is really plaguing my mind. We’re seeing a vehicle about every 20 – 30 minutes, and usually it’s a motorcycle. I have no idea what we’ll do, if another tire goes.
We’ve finally arrived back in San Rafael, we’ve said our goodbyes to Hugues and we’re back in Venel’s (Joseph’s brother’s) car. But, we’re once again in for a treat – more hardscrabble for at least an hour. The only consolation is there are actually shock absorbers on this SUV. Thank God for big blessings!
Mercifully, we are back in Ouanaminthe. Rather than going home, however, Joseph is concerned that I haven’t eaten since lunch. Fortunately, no restaurants are open at this hour, and we are finally dropped off – safe and sound – at our mission house.
It has been an amazing 22-hour day. I plan on sleeping well tonight. And, I hope you’ve enjoyed my amazing adventure here in Haiti. I obviously named it “The Road Taken” as a play on words of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.”
Bondye beni ou (God bless you)!