Mission Report: Haiti

It turns out that my initial description of this trip was a bit misleading. I haven’t shit in a hole once. I assure you, I intended to. I was even a bit excited about the prospect. But on arrival, my contact on the ground insisted that it wasn’t safe due to a recent wave of robberies targeting individuals of the blonde haired, blue eyed, white skinned variety. Now people have been telling me this and that was unsafe, for like, ever. And I never bothered to listen. You know the routine. The risk averse among us are always uttering some version of their manifesto:

  • “Don’t eat that meat, it’s been sitting out for 4 days.”
  • “Get back inside the car, we’re on the freeway going 75.”
  • “Don’t pet that dog, it has white foam all over it’s mouth.”
  • “The drug war regions of Mexico are not a good place to travel.”

But in this particular case, I had to listen. Edelin is not one of the risk averse. He pretty much strictly wears flip flops while riding a motorcycle on the worst roads (by roads, of course, I mean dirt paths with chickens, goats, people carrying shit on their heads, large exhaust spewing trucks, potholes that would fit a medium-sized animal, and innumerable streams that flow seasonally and forcefully carrying massive amounts of trash with them) with the worst other drivers one may ever witness. And in a move that I thought was the sole propriety of the American Asshole in an Automobile (myself included), I once saw him calmly answer his cell phone while driving a motorcycle in flip flops on shitty roads with shitty other drivers. He crashed. Without ending the call, he calmly got up, awkwardly lifted his bike upright with his free hand and hip, brushed off his road rash as if he scraped his knee playing touch football in the grass, and continued on down the road. He was doing one of those, hold the phone up to your ear on speaker then move it in front of your mouth and yell your contribution to the conversation into it. So not risk averse. Risk magnet.

What this basically means to me, a soft, white, unarmed, fairly uninitiated American, is that when he says “Yeah, bad guys.” that I should heed the warning. So I did. And now instead of living in the dirt, I get popcorn and hot sauce every night as a snack. Instead of waking up on the clinic construction site with the people of Gard Hiram, I wake up, eat breakfast, then get a ride from my translator about 15 minutes down the road to the site. The original purpose of sleeping in Gard Hiram was such that I interact with the community. That goal is still very much being accomplished. But I have a  toilet and regular meals in Ranquitte. I just don’t get to test my mettle. Why make it harder than it has to be?

I know, I’m a pansy ass. Tell me when I get home. Alive.

Aside from that little benefit of safety, this setup has created some other opportunities. Since I don’t have to spend a week or so figuring out how to fend for my basic needs, recon objectives are being completed at a much quicker pace. From my loose plan, things I had put at about day 10 are already in progress. For example, initial construction has already begun at the clinic, which was the primary goal.

I won’t have a tough guy I-Spent-35-Days-in-the-Haitian-Dirt story to tell when I get home. But anyone who knows me knows I’m not that tough. And I would much rather have a Hey-the-Clinic-Actually-Got-Built story when I get home. Honestly, I had no idea how it would happen, but like most things, the birth of a child, the assembly of a car, the way an apple falls from a tree to the ground, it just does. No one can explain how these things happen. We have no idea. It’s just magic.

The internet is, as you may have guessed, a bit finicky. Some days are better than others. So photos will come according to the graces of whatever god’s whims run the internet. Steve Jobs or whatever. Though according to the pastor of a recent mega-church service I attended strictly for the purpose of entertainment, he’s in hell, which would explain why he’s being such a dick about the internet here.

4 comments for “Mission Report: Haiti

  1. Tracy
    04.12.13 at 13:05


  2. Karen
    04.12.13 at 23:40

    So glad that you are alive and…..normal. Keep up the good work, Turalis…..and the words.

  3. 04.14.13 at 00:19

    Probably a smart move staying in Ranquitte. Great story, really enjoyed it.

  4. Kathleen Turchin
    04.14.13 at 12:22

    Thanks for all your hard work…looking forward to more updates.

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