4 AM, Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Joseph and I are heading for San Rafael – deep in the Haitian mountains southwest of Cap-Haitien. We’re been on a paved road for about an hour, but we just moved onto hardscrabble rock. I have no idea how a vehicle we’re in stands the pounding and keeps coming back for more! We’re holding on to anything we can to keep from being pummeled into the truck walls. When we reach San Rafael, a childhood friend of Joseph’s named Hugues (pronounced Eg with a long “e”) will take us to Port-au-Prince where we hope to buy a truck for Aslan.
Whew! I thought we’d never get here, but we did. Hugues has a prominent position with the Haitian government. He operates heavy equipment (huge bulldozers and backhoes) to build roads throughout Haiti. Until only a few years ago, there was basically one paved road from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haitien – the two largest cities in Haiti. Thanks to Hugues and a very large team of workers under him, there are more and more roads being paved – even to remote areas like San Rafael. Hugues is doing us a big favor by accompanying us to Port-au-Prince. Because Haitian President Michel Martelly hasn’t allowed an election runoff, there’s a tremendous amount of civil unrest in the capital city of several million people. There are demonstrations every day, and some of the demonstrations are turning violent.
We just went to Hugues maintenance yard to put a plug in the back left tire of his jeep. We’re finally on the road now, if you can call it a road. It’s absolutely horrible, but I have nothing to complain about. This is life in Haiti. What is a little discomfort to me? The Haitian people put up with indignity and discomfort every day of their lives. It hasn’t rained now in 5 months. With no rain, Haiti’s agrarian society is in trouble. The crops can’t grow without moisture. Each time I return to Haiti, I realize that everything changes as everything stays the same. Last time I was here in June, it rained so much the rivers were swollen. Now a few months later, the wells across Haiti are going dry, and most of the riverbeds are rock and dust. Overnight, Haiti goes from devastating hurricanes to devastating droughts. This is what I mean by “everything changes.” But “everything stays the same,” because both changing and not changing are equally bad!
We just had a blowout. Yep, it was the tire we plugged. Fortunately it was on the rear and not the front of our jeep or we could have gone off the side of a mountain. Hugues tells me an average set of tires lasts him about 6 months driving across these roads. I cannot believe the condition of the tires on this vehicle. The center of the blown out tire is worn down to the steel belts – completely around the circumference of the tire. God is surely with us today. But you won’t believe the condition of the tire we’re replacing the blowout with! It’s down to the steel belts around both edges. What will we do, if this or another one goes!
Watch for my next post for the rest of this fascinating story.