Navigating your way out of the Port au Prince airport is no easy task. First, you are attacked by the heat, a crowd of men all surging around you offering to take your bags, security and dust so thick it makes your eyes water. And that’s just on the pathway to the “non-secure” area where friends and family and cars are waiting.
We have all heard about the devastation of the Haiti earthquake. It’s real, unfathomable, and everywhere you look in Port au Prince. We had barely pulled out of the Port au Prince airport when we saw piled of rubble and mounds of trash. Driving in Haiti is almost a contact sport with with brightly colored Tap-Taps (the name for passenger buses – if you want one you tap) vying for a lane with construction vehicles. When traffic is at a standstill, which it is often, pedestrians dart in between. Three turns away from the airport and we saw one of the ill-famed tent cities, cobbled together with tarps, teaming with people and no discernible entrance or exit. My first five minutes in Haiti, I saw a ravenous dog rooting among the trash and a woman disrobing outside her tent. As she pulled off her pants, her underwear slipped revealing her shiny behind. She looked around to see if anyone saw and pulled her pants back up.
There’s more of course, but the shocking reality left us dumbfounded. We finally arrived at our funky hotel, The Hotel Olaffson, an eclectic oasis on the top of the hill on Port au Prince. The words “shabby chic” apply. You have the sense that this was once an elegant grand hotel. We’re happy here tonight our first night in Haiti and ready for grand adventures tomorrow.