Change of Scenery, Change of Attitude

Yesterday I left the country that I called home for the past month. Even though I had only been there a month on this trip, it was starting to feel like home to me. So many of my friends live in the country, and I feel like I know the back streets of Cap-Haitien better than places I have lived for years. I cannot explain why, but Haiti felt like home to me in an odd way.

For the last few days, I have been in an odd emotional place because I knew my time to leave Haiti was coming soon, and I did not want it to arrive so quickly. I found myself often staring into the sunsets, open fields, and city streets with a different attitude than I had previously. This place is no longer just a country that I have visited a few times. It is a place that has a deep root in my heart. The people are not mere acquaintances but instead lifelong friends.

Yesterday morning as I woke up and grabbed my packed bags to head back to Atlanta, I stopped to watch the sun coming up on the horizon and shimmering off the freshly soaked fields from the downpour that occurred the night before. It was one last mental memory before I began a long day of travel.

My driver, Rikens, and I set off for the airport 45 minutes before the plane left. Where I was staying is a solid 30 minute drive from the airport. No worries. We got there 15 minutes before departure. I bought my ticket, checked my bag, went through security, and still had 5 minutes to spare before boarding. Security was very easy because the x-ray machine does not work unless the power is on. That didn't happen until 15 minutes after my plane left so that meant just a quick glance over my stuff by the security agent and I was good to go.

I arrived in Port-au-Prince at the domestic airport with no real idea where I needed to check in for my next flight. The airport in Port-au-Prince is not like most cities. There are not check in counters for the most part. Instead there are sheds or cargo buildings where you check in. My airline was in the white building with the red doors. No signs on the outside, you just have to know that's where to go.

I resorted to hand signs, nonverbal cues, and broken Creole to get checked in for the flight. I wish someone had filmed this because I know it would be YouTube gold. All of the workers had a least a small smirk on their case watching this unfold.

Getting from the check in counter to the real airport was another adventure. After not speaking a word of English during the check in process, suddenly the man assisting me said in a very stern voice, "Go get in the red car." I did as he prompted. Turns out the red car was a shuttle service that the airline provided to drop us off at the correct destination. A few signs would have made it a lot easier.

On the flight to Miami, I rode with the entire Haitian national soccer team. They were headed to San Antonio to play Argentina in a match. I attempted to answer their questions about what San Antonio was like, but it is extremely difficult since they do not have a reference point from which I can attempt to pull. In the end, I think they had a more confused look on their faces than at the start of the conversation.

By the time I arrived at the house where I am staying in Atlanta, I had traveled for 18 hours. It was a very long day to say the least.

Bryan Clifton

Oklahoma City, OK