Saturday, December 29, 2012
Crossing into Haiti
Today we traveled from the Dominican Republic to Cap-Haiten. The day was packed with new and eye opening experiences. The morning began with a great breakfast at the hotel and then we loaded our luggage to the top of the bus for our trip to the border and then to our hotel in Haiti.
Loading the luggage was quite the process however two very talented Dominican men with the aid of Branly, Allen, Logan and Matt made the task look easy.
Our first stop was a grocery store in Santiago. The produce section was outstanding. I have never seen carrots, cucumbers or peppers as big and fresh as I did today! As we waited to check out we didn't go unnoticed by the friendly workers...It is very interesting how outgoing, friendly and nice their culture is.
Lunch was stop number two about an hour later. We ate a very nice little road side place. I had fried goat and rice along with some great fresh peppers! The class decided to split all of the food we ordered and quickly learned our eyes may have been bigger than our stomachs! We couldn't come close to finishing it all.
On our drive toward the border we saw a great deal of rice fields. I spotted about five John Deere 1165 Combines used for harvest- one of which had tracks! Other agriculture that we saw were a lot of plantain fields and some patches of corn. The livestock included goats, cattle, chickens that all seemed to be roaming without fences.
About forty-five minutes passed and we came to the border town. It was a free market day which made for a very busy time. Free market days happen on both Monday's and Friday's in border towns. It is when the Haitians and Dominicans can cross the border without a Visa or any charge. Many Haitians take advantage of this however the same cannot be said for Dominicans' crossing into Haiti. The Haitian's use the day to buy supplies for families such as food, clothing, etc.
The border process was one I won't forget. I am glad that we have folks on the trip that are well connected with officials to help us safely and efficiently cross the border, most important safely.
Our first stop in Haiti was at a Heifer International Milk Processing Plant called "Lèt Agogo." The plant brings in 150 gallons of milk a day. The cows in Haiti produce approximately one gallon of milk per day (compared to about 10 gal. per cow per day in the U.S.) The milk they produce is used in a program for students in local schools. The students receive the milk for nutritional needs. However the milk is not processed like we have in the U.S. Dr. Oliver took the educational moment once we were back on the bus to explain to us how the processes differed and what the possible short and long term side effects of unsafe pasteurization practices. I did try the milk though Dr. Oliver did not recommend my doing. I enjoyed the taste though I would have preferred it was cold. It had a very sweet taste to it in my opinion. I am not sick...yet... :/
The next stop- Cap Haitian! Our hotel is located in Cap Haitian. It was an experience driving through the city for the first time and seeing the business of the streets compared to the country side we had been in for the majority of our drive. Branly explained to us many of the things we saw in the city and how things had changed over time.
I am thankful for how well everything went today and looking forward to continuing to learn from those around me.