Even though I’ve been back home for nearly a month, people I haven’t seen in a while keep asking how January’s service trip to Haiti was.
My response is along the lines of “Do you want the 20-second version or the 9-hour version?”
They think I’m kidding.
I am and I’m not.
Trying to explain the experience is hard.
So let me run you through a bunch of photos and see if that helps to sharpen the story, and save us about 8 hours and 45 minutes. If you want to know more, click back to my earlier posts chronicling our stay (The Whirlwind Start, the Accident on the Road, the Departure and Homecoming), as well as some thoughts on the big lessons I brought home about education, agriculture, and power—and a poem, The Boy on the Road.
This is a church where several thousand Haitians attended service on our first Sunday in-country. Everybody dressed up, and took photos with their phones—just like in the States.
A man at church service.
We ate very well in Port-au-Prince. This post-church brunch had the best fruit juice ever (watermelon, black cherry, yum).
This is the national history museum. It was a chronicle of almost unceasing trauma. Slavery, revolution, neglect, abuse, civil war, corruption, dictators. Hard stuff.
As we left town, we passed an enormous phetto.
A water truck on the way out of P-a-P.
Mike Carpenter and me on the way to MPP.
My son Kelly loves goats, and Haiti is full of them. Babies, adults, a lot.
The road before the pavement turned to dirt and dust.
A horse. Don’t remember where we encountered it. J-Mac liked it.
Mike waiting for the cock fights. You see a lot of these structures along the roads. When there are fights, the people are 4-5 deep.
Mike and Nuala Carpenter, our trip guides, on the road to MPP. (Nice portrait, Kelly.)
Me and my son Kelly.
Like I said, goats.
The night sky. So full of stars while we were at MPP. Many of us just sat and looked up, jaws dropped.
We could see these trees from our dorm at MPP. We called them the broccoli trees.
What the countryside usually looks like in Haiti’s Central Plateau.
Kelly gets arty.
This is the leader of Eco-Village #1 in the Central Plateau. He was very competent, and left us feeling as if the village was in good hands.
Haiti is 2 years into a drought (thanks, global warming) and water is a valuable commodity—and Eco-Village #1 has it.
Kelly at the Bassin Zim waterfall.
A wasp nest in the cave at Bassin Zim.
Two young girls at Eco-Village #1 in the Central Plateau. Their joy and openness was a blessing.
The entrance to the MPP compound where we stayed.
Lots of dogs in the compound—thin and very, very hungry. They’d turn on each other over food scraps.
Kelly took this photo of two girls outside the MPP compound.
Group shot after we met the acting head of MPP, Willgar. That’s him in the middle.
This spider was sitting over my head for the first two hours I walked in and out of our room. He met his end that evening, after we tried to remove him to no avail. Spiders running on walls is creepy.
The garden at MPP. The green was welcome, and encouraging, in such a brown landscape.
A foggy morning. This was the view out the back of our dorm.
This MPP member showed us how to make all-natural bug repellent.
Apparently, we needed some blood. #joke
These are the “instructions” that accompany the business end of the compost gravity latrine.
There are fish in this retaining pool. We ate ’em for dinner. Bony, but it’s protein!
The cathedral in Hinche, the Central Plateau’s biggest town.
Inside the cathedral.
This organ has seen better days.
Kelly with one of our two translators, Majeeta.
The young man in the background is Maccenje, an Animator who had a wife and two daughters and had done an excellent job of adopting MPP methods of farming. This is his property, including dozens of raised tire gardens. In the foreground, our translator, Juliette.
Our group, Maccenje’s family, and members of the MPP youth groupment.
We visited this classroom with one table each of 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, at impossibly low tables. joy!
Everyone wants a photo of a goat.
The cross atop the cathedral in Hinche.
At nights, we relaxed, J-Mac plays the ukelele, Julia checks photos from the day, and mike reads on his Kindle.
J-Mac, on the edge.
The Julium, Kelly, and Jack at the Bassin Zim waterfall.
My guides to the cave atop Bassin Zim. Each was paid a dollar, and there was fierce competition for our business.
One of our final nights, a local dance troupe came to MPP and presented a percussive dance performance.
This is the lush Eco-Village #1.
Here we’re cutting material to make a compost pile.
The former head of MPP Jean-Baptiste Chabbonnes, who spoke to us for a few hours on our last day. We walked away impressed by his charisma and his commitment to improve the lives of peasants in Haiti.
The road in Haiti. Dusty an dangerous.