Monday, June 18, 2012

Au revoi!

Tomorrow will be an interesting day. As will the entire next week. I will be joining a group of 9 others -- 6 high school (rising) seniors and 3 other adults who will embark on a journey to Haiti. Just where is Haiti? you may ask. Here is a map to put it in perspective.

map of dominican republic

We will fly to Miami from Washington Dulles Airport tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. ET. From there we catch a flight to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. If you recall your geography from way back, Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola. Haiti is the poorer, western 1/3 of the island. You will recall the earthquake that devastated the area around the capital of Port au Prince a few years ago. We will not be going anywhere near Port au Prince -- potentially too close to Sean Penn for my comfort! (Yes, I had to throw that jab in there.)

My seventeen-year-old stepdaughter is the one who got me into this adventure. She is a member of her school's Medical Missionary chapter, and this is their service project. A doctor from the Medical Missionaries will be leading us, and one of the guidance counselors from the school will go also. The other adult is the mother of a student. It just so happens she is also an attorney, so I will have a kindred legal spirit for company.

I just got my last two shots this morning -- sort of. The measles shot is a one-timer (I have had a German measles shot, but my blood work from three weeks ago showed no "regular" measles immunization.) I also had the first of the 3-part Hepatitis B shot series. I have to go back in a month for part 2, then 5 months later for the 3rd and final dosage. I don't recall all this fuss when I went to Honduras 14 years ago -- and they had just had a hurricane devastate the country 6 months earlier!

I am getting excited about the trip. I guess that is good since I will be arriving there at about this time in 24 hours. We have a 4-5 hour bus ride tomorrow afternoon from Santo Domingo to Banica. Then Wednesday morning we will ride in the back of a big truck across the Haiti border to Thomassique, where the Medical Missionaries staff a medical clinic that they built. Here are links to the Medical Missionaries website where you can read more about their work in Haiti and Dominican Republican and see some pics of the place where we are going. Naturally, we will take pictures while we are there, and I will share them upon our return next week.

We have reviewed a couple of language lessons trying to teach us some Creole phrases. I can't say I have learned anything at this point. Much of the language is a phonetic spelling and pronunciation of French. The word for thank you in French is "merci," and in Creole it is "mesi." Many of the words are like that -- spelled the way they sound when pronounced in French. So, with my minimal French, I hope to be able to get a few things across. Luckily, we have an 11th person joining us --- a native Haitian who lives in the U.S., so she will be there to translate for us. She is a nurse practitioner, so she will be invaluable to us.

So, I will be incommunicado for a week or so. My biggest regret is that the SCOTUS decision on the health care law will probably come out while I am gone, and I will not be here to enjoy the misery that Obama and his minions will face when it is struck down. On the good side, I will miss the "spin" that they will try to put on the decision as they try to make it Bush's fault!

Au revoi (Haitian goodbye)!!