I figured, with so many photos to share from our journey to Haiti over the past few weeks, I'd split them up into daily posts. So here goes...
(all images © Square Peg Round Hole, llc - and may not be used without written permission)
Day One - Friday
We flew out of Pittsburgh, with work schedules demanding we split up into two camps. So Emily and I met up with Ted, Wendy, Aaron & Kate at our departure gate at the buttcrack of dawn at PIT.
After some snow-related delays at JFK, we were de-iced (my first time experiencing a plane-wash) and scooted right on past the rest of the planes cued up for take-off.
A trouble-free landing in Port-au-Prince, and after gathering our ridiculous amount of luggage (filled with donations from tons of awesome people in and around Warren) we took a two-hour-ish ride west out of Port-au-Prince to our destination in Grand Goave.
By the time we got there, it was around 6:00pm, so we dumped our bags in our respective rooms / shacks and sat down for our first Haitian meal of the week: rice, a piece of chicken and some spicy veggies in a broth-like sauce.
We then sorted through the mountain of donations, some going to an orphanage, some to a school, and some for a couple of local soccer teams.
We explored the compound a bit, checking out the rooftop that would be a favorite chillin' spot for our stay.
We met a gaggle of various types of birds that roamed the place, including a couple of peacocks.
We watched some ominous clouds roll in around sunset.
...and of course, we found the one spot where wifi seemed to work the best and checked in with our family and friends. A picnic table we dubbed "The Internet Cafe." After some quick emails and shaky Skype conversations, we turned in for an early morning of hauling rubble.
Day 2 - Saturday
Most of us always took at least a few moments to enjoy the sunrise from the roof of the compound. It was a great way to watch and hear Grand Goave waking up. Roosters everywhere, goats yelling, dogs barking, and people going about their daily tasks.
Our new buddy Grap (who Ted befriended on previous trips) was with us the whole time, here he is receiving a photo book from a previous visit.
We then gathered all the tools for the day and mounted up on our trusty steed - a hulking old dump truck from - get this - Elizabethtown, PA! Brake lights courtesy of Betts Industries, bullet holes courtesy of ???
Talk about riding in style...
After gathering a pile of rubble at a local residence, we moved on to the local dump to pick through mounds of trash for ideal rubble. Pieces need to be at least 2-3 inches across, and you don't want to gather dirt and sand, because it will fall right out of the wall cages. And you don't want to use rocks, because that defeats the conservation aspect of building with rubble. It's not as simple as you'd think. But it is just about as dirty and arduous as you'd think.
Grap tagged along whenever he was out of school. (he's a much harder worker than this photo suggests - he and I were both taking a short break in the shade).
Once we filled up the truck and exhausted the good rubble in the dump, we moved on to another mostly vacant compound. Upon arriving, we discovered (my first up-close encounter) a tarantula. Which Emily just loved.
After filling three dump truck loads of rubble, (by hand, with only six people before lunch) we headed out to the site where the house would be built... to tear down the shelter that would be replaced by our sturdier, largely earthquake-proof structure.
The ladies quickly befriended some of the girls that would be living in our new house.
Once we finished demolishing the old house, we walked back along the shady path to the dump / river and back to the compound.
Wendy, however, chose to ride in style with Steven.
We rounded out the night by walking around the town for a bit, finally stopping at a local joint for some fruit smoothies. Note - this ain't Jamba Juice. Our chairs and light were set out by a hard-working five-year old, and the supplies for our smoothies took about an hour to gather from at least three different houses nearby. The blenders they used were probably discarded by an American sometime around 1987. Which makes you appreciate all that much more when someone puts in the work to make something for you.
And they were delicious.