Vasectomy Haiti: Vasectomy Team Insertion
August 6, 2015
As you fly over the Caribbean Sea towards Haiti, you can’t but help notice the beauty of the ocean beneath you.
The scenery suggested I was going to an all-inclusive luxury resort as we cruised over green islands ringed by white sand and deep blue.
First article: Haiti Vasectomy: No Reservations
The approach: An idyllic island surrounded by blue beauty
Even as you approach Haiti you notice a large, beautiful island with towering mountain ranges whose cliffs cascade abruptly into an azure colored ocean. Occasionally, you see smoke rising from a single mountain home. As you get closer, you see little clusters of home sites situated mostly near the coast. From the air Haiti serves the viewer an idyllic sense of tropical beauty.
The people on my plane appear to be Haitian expats returning from the United States to their native homeland. They appear healthy, happy and beautiful. They have large bags stuffed with items they have purchased to bring back home. They are a beautiful people with deep, black skin. Skin so deep in color and smooth in tone it resembles the deepest parts of the Caribbean Sea. Their eyes and teeth provide a beautiful contrast against the deep, dark color of their skin. The contrast makes their teeth seem whiter than humanly possible. They all beam with pride to be returning home.
“The stark contrast from what I expected from a far distance to what I saw as we got closer reminded me of my college experiences in dark bars. Distance, poor light, and the judgment impairing effects of alcohol can make anything look good.”
– Haiti Vasectomy: No Reservations
Haiti: A proud country with a unique place in history
It is a well-known fact Haiti has the distinct reputation of being the only slave colony to have had a successful revolt against their French masters and become a free and independent country. No other slave colony can brag of this level of independence. In 1804, Haiti gained independence from France. Napoleon was too entrenched in his western war and he let the small Caribbean island go. Perhaps he foresaw the little island’s future?
Interestingly, the revolt against France started in the very part of Northern Haiti where our vasectomy mission would take place. Haitians have deep historical roots to nurture their sense of pride.
The descent: Haiti reveals her ugly identity
As you descend, Haiti slowly unrobes herself. No longer do you see the beauty of what the Caribbean has to offer… you begin to lose the sense of approaching an idyllic getaway. You begin to see her for what she really is…an old beauty queen who has long outshone her past. A previous pageant winner whose beauty has long disappeared beneath her sunken cheek bones and ragged, wrinkly, sunburned skin.
The stark contrast from what I expected from a far distance to what I saw as we got closer reminded me of my college experiences in dark bars. Distance, poor light, and the judgment impairing effects of alcohol can make anything look good.
A brown, beautiful, but featureless landscape reveals the absence of trees. There are few trees because most have been harvested for charcoal and lumber. The smoke rising from what I thought were cute little mountain houses was instead made by small groups of Haitians who could only find trees to burn for charcoal at the very tops of the mountains.
The soil is brown and rocky because most of it has been washed away as a result of deforestation. The land has been stripped of trees to create lumber and charcoal. The houses that looked so cute from the air reveal themselves to be ugly huts, many of them made of mud and cinder block and covered by decades old metal rusty roofs. They don’t look so quaint and cute when you are close up on them. None of the roads are paved but instead muddy, rocky, and full of trash…plastic bottles and plastic bags. Only God knows what else has been thrown away because no regular sanitation happens here.
As we prepare to land, my thoughts of a cushy all-inclusive luxury resort quickly fade and I realize I am in the real Haiti…the Haiti we have all seen on the news…the earthquake Haiti. The apocalyptic Haiti.
I am now seeing Haiti for what it is…an over-populated island with scarce resources and people stacked upon each other in some places like rats on a ship in trouble.
“As you descend, Haiti slowly unrobes herself. No longer do you see the beauty of what the Caribbean has to offer… you begin to lose the sense of approaching an idyllic getaway. You begin to see her for what she really is…a previous beauty queen who has long outshone her past.”
– Haiti Vasectomy: No Reservations
As the plane began its descent the passengers began clapping and singing in Creole expressing their happiness in returning home. When the wheels hit the runway the entire plane erupted in song and praise and clapping…thankful to be home and thankful to have landed safely. I found myself thinking how ironic it was these Haitian people could be so desperate to leave their country to make a better living in the United States but also so happy to return to the same place of desolation. I guess home is home… no matter what condition home is in… or what conditions home has placed upon you.
No Fantasy Island on Haiti
As we exited the plane, the Caribbean heat and humidity hit me. The breeze revealed the slight tinge of an odor I would come to learn was the odor created from burning plastic.
We walked down an old-school ladder…the kind I remember seeing as a kid. The kind where you can get rained on or take a really nasty fall if you were not careful.
For some reason I thought of the TV show Fantasy Island as I walked down this ladder… only this was not the Fantasy Island I remembered. There was no raspy little Tattoo to great me….no suave Mr. Roarke to give me a lei, a drink and tell me this is the island where my fantasies will come true.
Instead we passed underneath a brilliant colored Haitian flag against a deep blue, cloudless sky and underneath was an Carribean band as we entered into Customs. Although pitiful, it was an appreciated attempt at a welcome to a historically important but currently undervalued island of the Carribean Sea.
Customs was ‘modest’ at best. It was the easiest customs check-in I have ever had…lets face it. People don’t try to sneak in to Haiti…they only try to sneak out of Haiti. The customs check-in adequately reflects this understanding. Pay your $10 bucks and you are in.
Rule #1 Every person for themselves
Rule #2 Anything goes
The baggage terminal would serve to be my first lesson about Haiti.
It was an extremely narrow, rectangular space with one entrance to get in and one entrance to get out. It was filled with Haitians trying to get their bags. They were all yelling and shouting in Creole. Perhaps they were just talking loudly.
It always seems when people are talking in a language you don’t understand they always seem like they are yelling.
It was in the Cap Haitian baggage terminal where I learned the first two rules about Haiti: (1) every person for themselves and (2) anything goes.
Next mission update: Vasectomy Haiti: Two Goals For Mission Day Zero