Today seemed to be warmer than yesterday. I’m not sure if it really was in fact hotter or if we were just more active. Either way, it was a very warm and busy day in Haiti. The morning began with breakfast in the hotel. Breakfast at the hotel is always awesome because there is some fantastic coffee down here. There were also the other regulars found with breakfast that included pancakes, fruit, eggs, bacon, and some other breakfasty things but really for me it was all about the coffee. The goal was to leave the hotel by around 8:00. We came close… sort of…
After a group picture, we headed off to Haut-Limbe. This is about a 45 minute drive from the hotel. It is a beautiful drive. The first portion goes through Cap-Haïtien and that is an adventure in driving in itself. Our driver is awesome and averted several could be crisis moments today as he navigated our van to and fron Haut-Limbe. The second portion of the drive took us into the country and then the mountains outside of Cap-Haïtien.We also passed by the bay where Christopher Columbus landed on Christmas Eve in 1492. The next day the Santa Maria would be sunk.
After winding over the mountains we finally arrived at the small community of Haut-Limbe. The first stop for the day was at the Emmaus school. I have fond memories of this school from last year. It is the school where the Reliv Kalogris Foundation murals can be found on the schoolyard wall. It also is where we gave them candy, fed them Reliv shakes, and played with students. It was an incredibly happy way to start the day. The kids absolutely loved the attention, and so did all of we. There even was some dancing going on that will be in a video at a later date I’m sure. The kids were incredibly well behaved and took turns as they received both candy and shakes. It was also interesting watching them take their shakes because they wouldn’t take more than one as to make sure that all their fellow students received their shake as well. It was really incredible to watch them be so courteous to each other.
After the fun at the school, we were taken to where the Reliv products are stored when they are brought to Haiti for the Reliv Kalogris Foundation. It also is where Dr. Manno’s original clinic was. After looking around for a few minutes, it was time to visit Dr. Manno’s current clinic. It was just a short walk down a dirt and rock road. Perhaps a better way to describe it would be a rocky dirt road? I’m not sure. Either way it was dirt with a lot of rocks to ruin tires and as it turns out… shoes. Less than halfway to Dr. Manno’s clinic my right soul almost fell off my shoe. After walking awkwardly for a few dozen yards, Dr. Manno decided the entire thing should come off and helped me rip it off. I then walked with a soul-less right shoe the rest of the way to the clinic. It basically just looked like I had a limp. Thankfully, Dr. Manno knew a guy who could fix shoes in the neighborhood (Who knew!?) and after arriving at the clinic I surrendered my right shoe to my new friend. He disappeared to fix the shoe and we got an incredible tour of Dr. Manno’s clinic.
Dr. Manno’s clinic is similar but different from anything you would see in the USA. While there were many recognizable medical instruments throughout the clinic, the technology wasn’t… because it wasn’t there. Dr. Manno basically utilizes his ears and his eyes to listen to the stories of people and recognize their symptoms so he can know how to help them. There were two Australian med students visiting to learn from him for approximately a month. The flip-side benefit is that they also helped man the clinic. The need is incredibly great down here in Haiti so the help was greatly appreciated. Dr. Manno has another group coming in a few months from Minnesota. It sounds like doctors who are willing to go on a mission trip down here are literally life savers. Dr. Manno ended the tour of his clinic by showing us the small pharmacy. There he explained the medical practices down here, along with the challenges. There are a lot.
Once the tour was over, we went back outside and waited for my shoe to return. Thankfully it didn’t take too long and Dr. Manno returned with my shoe. It had been stitched back together and was as good as new! I will admit it was a bit of a relief as I really hadn’t even considered my shoes falling apart as they are my work shoes. So my backup pair were a pair of Rainbows. Oops! Lesson learned.
With two shoes on my feet, it was now time to walk back to Dr. Manno’s house for lunch. Lunch was made by his mother and included rice, multiple types of beans/bean sauce, plantains, tomatoes, avocados, a salad, spinich, and chicken. It was all delicious. Remembering back to last year when we had a similar meal, I had to conclude that eating at Dr. Manno’s house is one of the best meals one can have in Haiti. It is delicious and hearty and afterwards everyone’s stomaches were happy. I hope someone will concur with me on this by leaving comments below. Once lunch was done, it was time to get into paint clothes and head to Haut-Limbe Baptist School to paint some classrooms!
Haut-Limbe Baptist School is one of my favorite places in Haiti I think. I love the staff there and the students are equally incredible. It was a highlight getting to visit them last year. This year, the students weren’t around but some of the staff was. We walked over to the school and broke out the painting gear. Under the skilled leadership of Jim Schaben we got to work painting classrooms a lovely blue color. Some people were cutters, others were rollers. I started out a cutter and ended up at the end with a paint roller when I traded a paint brush for a long handled roller with my new friend Rose Ederer. Everyone did a fantastic job and I really can’t remember seeing so many rooms painted so fast. I will say this though. It was HOT in those classrooms as we painted! As we ran out of paint, it appeared that we were about to run out of weather as well. Several dark clouds hung overheard and the occasional raindrop could be felt. It was decided that it was time to beat the weather and return to Cap-Haïtien. We stopped by Dr. Manno’s house for a quick restroom break and then made our way back to Cap-Haïtien…. with one quick stop.
On pretty much the top of the mountain there was a structure with people working on a root underneath. By the time the people had finished with the root, it looked like a flat bread or pancake. Some where the size of a plate and others, the size of a mat. Dr. Manno gave us a lesson on how the root is ground up into a flour type substance, then squeezed to get rid of the fluid (that is apparently poisonous), and then is cooked as we saw in front of us. We purchased some to try on the van ride home. It was an interesting taste that was good and reminded me almost of Shredded Wheat.
The rest of the drive back to the hotel was fairly uneventful. We did end up taking a detour so that Dr. Manno could run an errand. This was a perk as it allowed us to see some of the harbor that Cap-Haïtien surrounds. We also got to see some Christmas trees and lights for sale. We also had an incredibly near miss with a motorcycle that definitely earned our driver a hearty round of applause. We knew he was good but that moment showed us just HOW good.
Finally back at the hotel we had some time to relax and chat with our fellow travelers before dinner. It was nice to just enjoy the outdoor lounge area and enjoy each other’s company. Dinner was delicious and also included some dignified guests from the Catholic church. One was a local father and the other was the Arch Bishop of Cap-Haïtien, if I caught the title correctly. The meal consisted of chicken, goat, avocados, rice, pasta, plantains, bread, and a carrot/bean thing. Dessert was ice cream of either strawberry or vanilla. It tasted home made and was awesome. The night wrapped up with some more chats around the lobby and lounge area.
Day two has been a very exhausting day for all of us but also a very good day. It was a day of accomplishment, teamwork, happy new memories, and developing friendships. The real moral of the day though is the amount of difference one person can make. I look back at all the events of today and it is very apparent the importance of each person in our group. Taking it a step further it is blatantly obvious how important each supporter is for the Reliv Kalogris Foundation. I can only imagine that each one of us will go home with a renewed energy to help support this organization and change so many worlds of so many of the children we have met.