This is my last blog for this Haiti trip - the prelude to my adventures abroad for the next 9 months. It was hard to believe how quickly Sunday came. When we arrived two weeks ago and for the first couple of days, I was thinking that maybe committing to two weeks wasn't the best idea and started to become nervous about spending 9 months abroad especially considering that I would be spending 3 of those months in Africa which I am guessing may be a similar sort of experience to Haiti. That feeling quickly left as I got into a groove at the hospital and felt comfortable within my role at the hospital as medical student/intern/surgical tech/xray tech/circulator/... As I got ready to leave the hospital for the last time and head to the airport, I was sad to leave. I was ready to get back home and see my family and take a warm shower and not be covered in sweat constantly, but I have definitely become attached to Haiti - the people, the volunteers, the country, the hospital. It's also sad to know that I am not sure when my next trip to Haiti will be. I am certain the group will go again before I return from my 9 months abroad and it will be the first trip since I started going that I won't be on. Although, I think that if the group continues to go after I return to the US, I will be welcome back. After repacking, we brought our stuff down to the main hospital floor to meet Richard, our driver. As we loaded up the SUV, members from the new team were just arriving - two osteopathic students from Colorado who were doing a surgery rotation at the Adventist Hospital with Dr. Dietrich. I updated them on what had been going on at the hospital and gave them a brief rundown of the things that I did while I was there and what sorts of things to expect. We then loaded up the SUV and headed to the airport.
|rebo coffee & a cheese sandwich|
This is my 8th trip on the route between the hospital and the airport and it has become a very familiar route. The garbage situation has improved much since I was first here in November 2010. The tent cities are still in existence and don't seem to have gotten any smaller over the past 10 months. There is an open-air market that is always crowded no matter what time of day we pass it and has a distinct smell of human waste that is hard to remove from my senses. We pass by a sculpture of hands holding up the globe with flags from different countries around the world surrounding it. Finally we arrive at Touissant Louverture International Airport and unload our things. Men in rad caps surround us to try and carry our bags for a tip (the tips are what they live off of). Local art sellers also surround us, shoving paintings and cheap jewelry in our faces trying to make a sale. We move aggressively through this throng and into the airport. We check our bags and go through at least 3 different security screenings before arriving at the terminal. We are still over an hour early for our flight and head upstairs to the alcove of a few restaurants and the Rebo coffee shop that I have been daydreaming about since our last trip in May. We get a table, order our Rebo frappacinos (made with coffee ice cubes!) and cheese sandwiches and sit quietly. I think we are all thinking about our time here and our mixed emotions about leaving. It has been an amazing trip and it's hard to think about coming home. This is especially true as we are waiting to board the plane and witness an American man blow up at the local airline workers because he lost his wallet - he left it on the security belt and somehow forgot to pick it up after it went through. I can understand his frustration, but what I do not understand is why he had to yell and make a huge scene as he blamed the local airline workers for his mistake. Witnessing this, I am even less excited to return.
Our flight to Miami was uneventful except for when an overhead announcement came on asking for a doctor on the plane to see a patient that wasn't feeling well. There was no shortage of medical personnel on the flight from Haiti. We arrived in Miami and went through the nightmare that is customs. With 3+ hours to kill, we exchanged photos and had our first meal that was not rice&beans or pizza. The flight back to Minneapolis was also uneventful and when we arrived at MSP, I think we were all glad to be home. I took my first breath of the fresh Minnesota air and realized how much I had missed being able to deeply breathe clean air. I felt my lungs open up and appreciated being home where there are laws that protect the air and the environment so that we all can breathe a little more deeply and have open space with green trees to enjoy. I wasn't sweating, and I wasn't crowded by people. It was good to be home.