Today found us 11 hours of sleep restier. Is that a word? More rested. We woke up at 7:30 already sticky. At this point, it is 8:00pm and our A/C is broken. Kris is too hot and tired to go ask the front desk to see if they can fix it. LOL!
We showered and headed down to the hotel restaurant where we get an included breakfast buffet (bonus!) – we filled up on eggs, fresh fruit, small pastry and toast and some yummy fruit juices – I have not a clue what they were, but they were good! 🙂 Then we ran upstairs to face time our kids really quick before we left for the creche (orphanage).
At 9:30 we met our driver and translator at the front doors of the hotel, and we hopped in for the ride out to the creche. It wasn’t quite as crazy as our airport-to-hotel extravaganza, but we all had some good laughs about how crazy the driving was! For those of you who have never been to a country like this, I’ll try to use my mad skills to paint a visual for you:
The hotel grounds are beautiful, well-kept, and comfortable. The driveway and road is paved, bushes and trees are groomed, pool-side bar is stocked and all of the front-desk and restaurant/bar staff speak impeccable English. The air is muggy and sticky, and once we were here about 2 minutes off the plane, that sticky feeling doesn’t go away, even when you’re in your A/C room (especially if your A/C is out of commission). It smells warm and thick, and any physical exertion is hard to get used to, even if you’re somewhat fit – as it feels like breathing in soup.
The only telltale sign of another world is that the hotel is surrounded by a thick cinderblock wall on all sides, with rolls of barbed wire on the top edge – all the way around. As soon as you drive out of the gates, (everything is gated here, homes and hotels alike, many businesses as well), you enter the real Haiti. The cars are constant and the honking incessant, roads are gutted with deep ruts and huge rocks everywhere, making for jostling travel no matter where you are. The biggest impression for me – the people. They are EVERYWHERE. Seemingly at all hours – (although we haven’t been out at night, so just guessing from the daylight) – and they are all incredibly beautiful! From the elderly men and women walking on the road to the young people hanging out in the alleys and doorways – they are all model-esque its insane! Almost every street is lined with people selling everything you can imagine – shoes, clothing, pots, pans, food, pringles (!), there are even people who walk around with huge insulated bags on their heads selling water in plastic pouches! I guess you buy a pouch and cut it open and drink it?
The most fun thing to see on the road are the tap-taps – they are the mode of mass public transportation – normally open-back trucks like with a canopy but the tailgate off – sometimes fully enclosed vans, but they are AMAZING works of art! Every single one is different – the colors are bright and I noticed some of them have American references, like “LA Lakers” team logos. They run the streets – people getting on and off constantly. I asked our translator where all the people were going and he just said, “some go to work, some to home, some, I don’t know. They go everywhere!”
The drive out to the creche took about 30-40 minutes I think today, although if it was longer I was too much in awe to realize. We finally turned off the main road onto a super rocky, rutted off-road that ran through some town areas that were a little less traveled, more out in the country. When we finally saw the orphanage it was like a mansion out in that area! We drove in the gates, and walked into the back door, meeting one of W’s nannies in the process. We began to head upstairs and little brown faces and fingers found us immediately! Before we had even reached the top step all of my fingers were in full grasp of three littles under age 4 (the older ones, as we found out, were at school for the morning and would return around 1pm). We sat out on the patio and played with kids all morning – one by one the giggles must have incited some curiosity to see what was happening! 🙂 they would come and go, bringing friends, coming for hugs or laps to sit in, at one point I had a little one fall asleep in my lap for about an hour! Felt like I peed my pants after that, I think it was just a puddle of sweat, but I’m not positive…LOL
they were just the cutest things! All smiles, soft hands, they loved to play with Kris’ spiky hair, and see pictures. They learned very quickly whose manman and papa we were, and they told us about a thousand times that W was at school, I’m not sure if they were telling us again in case we forgot, or telling us in case we just wanted a quick replacement child! 🙂
We did 24 piece puzzles on the floor, looked at books, played made up silly games, and tossed them in the air, gave piggy back rides and laughed as two 5 year olds sang (and danced) the whip and nay-nay for us! (Priceless). Our phones are covered in little finger sweat and snot and a day of 85 degree humidity grime and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to wipe it off! I was absolutely in heaven even before W came home from school!
The hour finally came when we started seeing the color-coded uniforms of the kids walking home in a group from school. Little Man W was in a bright yellow polo tshirt and grey shorts, with little black hiking-style boots – they all wear the same thing I think they color-code them by grade maybe? He is kindergarten equivalent. They walked into the gate as a group and we could see them look up at the balcony where we were, and if we were ever unsure which one was him, he looked up from far away and waved his hand at us! (he must have known we were coming, and to watch for us!) Immediately we started hearing littles yelling from downstairs out to him, “W! Manman, Papa! W! Manman, papa!!” telling him his mama and papa were here! 🙂
His nanny brought him upstairs after about 10 minutes, and we met him on the landing, his little feet in his little boots stepped carefully up the stairs to the top, and he looked at us quietly and gave a shy smile. The translator and his nanny must have said something to the effect of “this is your mommy and daddy, go give them a hug” because he came over and gave me a very shy but very sincere hug, and the same to Kris. Then he took our hands, one in each of his, and we went out to the balcony to sit for awhile. It was a quiet beginning, but we quickly found things to look at, showing him all the photos on our phone of brother and sisters, and his friends started to trickle out onto the patio with us. Pretty soon it was a mass of little bodies all crowding around to see W’s photos and his family, each child poring carefully over the photo book we brought for him, pointing out each person and learning their names. W was most proud of the picture of his bed, making sure each friend saw it 🙂
After awhile we got out fruit snacks, and we got to see bits of his personality in all of its beauty! While we gave out some, and put the bag away, he asked, “papa?” and pointed to the bag asking if he could give some to his friends. After about 5 minutes of “this is my mommy and daddy” he realized really quickly that all of mommy and daddy’s things are mine as well. He was very sweet to ask, and he would get out a pack of snacks and share them with his friends who hadn’t had one yet.
He shared his “machin” puzzle (Cars) with his friends, carefully collecting the pieces and putting them away in the bag when they were done, and played soccer (he’s got amazing skills) with his friends with the ball we brought. He let us hold him, leaning his head on my shoulder, and sat close by. We brought him a new shirt and shorts, to which he was so excited he immediately put them on – on top of his uniform! LOL We had to talk him into taking off the new clothes and swapping out his outfits after awhile!
All in all, the day came to a close quickly. We were able to spend about 2 hours with W today, and most days, this will be the case as he is still in school. We are hoping to be able to go back Saturday and Sunday as well as weekdays so that we can see him during the day.
We got big hugs and smiles when we left, after we told him we will see you tomorrow! 🙂
I feel like words cannot even express the experience today – we are so excited for our kids to meet him – they will be in love instantly!
Thank you to all of you who are praying over our trip, and especially to those who were praying this morning for our meeting with him. I think he likes us…LOL and we are head over heels. Pray for our hearts as already we are trying to comprehend the thought of having to leave him here and return home in 13 days.
Laura (& Kris)