Sitting at gate D9 at the Miami airport, I look around, I am almost the only white person in the beautiful sea of black. Everyone around is dressed so nice and seem to know each other. I know this can't be though, and chalk it up to the friendly Haitian way.
After sitting on the plane for just under two hours, we descend into beautiful mountainous terrain and land on a short landing strip I swore by site, was gonna run out before we came to a complete stop. When the plane touched ground the plane applauded (never seen a plane applaud a landing) and the speaker turned over to playing Michael Jackson slow jams! (Another first!)
I made my way into the tiny one room airport with the rest of the passengers. The crowd searching for bags was like vultures looking for meat- the aggressive won and those who were mildly delayed or passive in their approach- kept getting pushed to the back of the crowd. This was me. Not knowing the language, I just submitted to the people who pushed all around me, and about an hour after landing, I finally found my bag and made my way out the front door.
There I was met by tons and tons of men and boys offering me rides "taxi!?" "Ride?!"- I didn't know who was coming to get me but I knew someone was, so I said no thanks and stood in the sea of them as I searched for whoever this mystery person may be. It was then that a very tall and quiet voiced man said "are you Echo?" It was Santo, the house manager and one of my translators, and he quickly ushered me off to the car. I walked past a TON of "adventure mobiles" with snorkels, and land cruisers like Andy has. He would have been in absolute heaven!
We drove the 20-30 min to MamaBaby Haiti. Weaving in and out of traffic, honking at anything and everything coming our way. Haiti does not have traffic laws- anything goes! It's a pretty unbelievable ride! Watching people on foot, motobike, car, truck, tap tap, all fighting for the small strip of ground, all going different ways!
We finally turned left down a small dirt street and honked for the gates to be opened so we could enter MamaBaby grounds.
I was showed my room (4 sets of IKEA bunk beds) and then given the orientation tour (via translator) by Patricia the on call Haitian midwife. I now really was the ONLY white person, it being the holidays, I am the only American volunteer here!
We ate lunch and I unpacked. At this point I had slept 3 hours in the past 36 and decided to lay down for a quick little cat nap. About 30 min later I awoke with my second wind and went downstairs to the birth center. There were two mamas who were arriving in possible labor. Both were swollen with child, but neither were ready for their baby to come today. Achey and limping I watched both slowly walk out the door. I asked "how long do they have to walk to get home?" And was answered with an "I don't know." I was amazed and my respect for the Haitian woman grew even more. Many of these woman WALK a long ways to get to their prenatal appointment and births- And many come alone. 4 hours after their baby is born, they are free to go home. In all that comes with postpartum discomfort- many are walking, riding on a motorbike, or taking the tap tap (taxi service) home!
American moms- don't take for granted the luxury we have in birthing our babies... The vector that we have a comfortable ride to and from is a true gift! Also- don't get so wrapped up in our american way! We could learn a lot from a more simplified way! (Think baby gear, and toys, and clothes...)
The sun quickly set (around 5:30) and the place became dark! No overhead lights- just flashlights hanging in some random places. Santo invited me to go into town and get dinner with him, his girlfriend, sister, and his 4 year old daughter Holy. It was so fun experiencing the vibrant night life. Loud music and people hanging out every where you look. The restaurant was nice and Haitian couples were dancing all around. By the time dinner was over I could barely keep my eyes open. We made our way back to the birth center and I crawled into my netted bed as quickly as I could and slept a wonderful 9 hours of good good sleep!