A "Three-Hour Tour", A Night Hike, and Beauty Beyond Words

The Gilligan's Island song went round and round in my head on Saturday, specifically, "…a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour…"

Corrigan agreed to help deliver some food and clothing to this community in Jacmel – about three hours from Port-au-Prince. The winding mountain road revealed some beautiful views, yet it also suffered severely in the earthquake. In some places, landslides and boulders had been cleared enough for one lane. In other places the cracks in the asphalt reveal that the road is about two major rainstorms away from tumbling down the mountain altogether.

We arrived in Jacmel after 3 hours, and the Haitian guys with us said, "it's just ahead – we're almost there." We started driving toward another mountain, and after 2 more hours they said, "yeah, we're arriving!" After which we drove for another 45 minutes – and this was on motorcycle trails and goat tracks! It was probably good night had cloaked the terrain so we couldn't see how crazy this was. We enjoyed the adventure part of it. After arriving (and deciding to stay the night) we hiked another 35 minutes up mountain trails to arrive in the community where we would sleep. Corrigan talked with the people for a bit, while I smiled and nodded when I recognized a word or two.

They welcomed us into a small room with a straw mat on the floor and they told us to lay down and go to sleep. But as we laid down they continued to stare at us. Corrigan and I cracked jokes with each other about being in a zoo. Oh, and did you know it goes against common sense to lay down, close your eyes, and sigh peacefully while two guys with machetes sit in chairs three feet away. A little while later I heard snoring, so I peeked through one, half-open eyelid to see one of the guys (the other one had left) asleep in the chair. He must have heard my eyelash flutter because not more than two seconds later the snoring stopped and his eyes opened.

We actually thought it a nice gesture that they cared for our safety, yet I admit I was relieved when he left around 1am.

The next morning we watched the sun bathe the crops on the mountain side with light. We took photos of children and watched them laugh as they saw the result in the little digital window on the camera. We went to the beginning of the church service, and while that could be a separate blog altogether, suffice it to say that we enjoyed watching the children's faces during the service.

We finally left to embark on our trek to the car and the 6+ hour drive back to Port-au-Prince and on that drive enjoyed the beautiful landscape we had passed in moonlight. Corrigan and I had some great conversation about 'missions', about empowerment, about accountability, and about mutuality.

On the drive back I tried to photograph one of the most beautiful things I have seen. (I didn't actually think of it that way at the time – I just knew I had to snap the shutter – yet as I write now that is how the words fell on the page and I like them.) We followed a brightly painted truck (a bit bigger than a large moving truck but smaller than a semi-) brimming with bags of coal. A woman sat atop the coal bags above the truck cab as if she were one of Hannibal's soldiers driving an elephant over the mountains on the way to some great conquest. Her body swayed in rhythm with the trucks efforts to navigate the mountain road as the valley opened up before us. And she sang. I caught a note or two on the wind.

Can words even describe it? How do you reflect that in a photo?

This became longer than I thought so I will write about this morning's earthquakes and my goodbyes in another blog at another time.

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