Rolling with the Punches

Please, excuse the poor formatting. It’s an improvised process to get things on the internet from where we are in Haiti. I’ll spare you the details but it involves a carrier pigeon and those things could give a shit about kerning or paragraphs. And I’ll fix any links, photo thumbnails, all that business when I get back to the states.

In case anyone out there is considering taking up international travel, especially to a third world country, allow me to impart a bit of knowledge. Nothing ever goes as planned. This is an immutable law. United will change their baggage policy at some point between this trip and last. This will cost everyone $65 per piece of luggage. When each piece of luggage is 50 lbs. of medication, that’s 65 bucks you’ll pay. And no, United doesn’t care that you’re part of a humanitarian effort to fight cholera in Haiti and that you’re on a shoestring budget. Even though waiving a baggage fee is a few keystrokes on a computer, they don’t care.

They also don’t care that your flight is scheduled to depart at 1030 pm. They’ll get around to it when they do and your flight will leave at 130 am. Never mind the fact that you have an international connecting flight that you’ll have about 10 minutes to get to. They still need to charge you for that baggage. And when you do get to Newark you won’t have time to get a Jamba Juice or a pretzel because the gate you arrive in and the gate you depart from are several nautical miles apart.

And then remember that $65 per piece of luggage United charged everyone in your group? Well when you do finally arrive in Haiti, they will have forgotten to also make your luggage arrive on the same flight. It’s only an 8 hour drive through rugged terrain to get to the village where we put on the clinic. The drivers will try to raise the price at the last minute. The wind will blow your hat off. Then a tree branch will try to knock your hat off. Then the wind again. If you’re lucky there will be a martial artist on your trip with light speed reflexes who will recover it for you.

One thing you can count on in these endeavors is the smell of burning garbage and diesel fuel. Things are still pretty much as they were in Port au Prince. Broken.

But you can also count on the unparalleled beauty of the Haitian countryside. And an adventure.

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We made it safely. All 10 of us. No worse for wear. Traveling sucks. This is another immutable law. But once you get there, it’s always worth it. Finding out firsthand that previous efforts were effective is also pretty nice. And having a translator that unexpectedly uses the word “dick” during a medical exam because he can’t think of the word penis made all the trials and tribulations of travel totally worth it.