We will work with you to coordinate your travel to and from Haiti, including having a NFoH representative travel with the group whenever possible. If your city of origin differs from the majority of the group and we cannot arrange to travel with you we will be sure to help coordinate your arrive at Port-au Prince International Airport (PAP), the capital of Haiti, to coincide with the rest of the group. During check-in, you should make sure to confirm any checked baggage through to PAP. We coordinate for our NFoH representative(s) to travel with you for the last leg into PAP to assist negotiating through Immigration, Baggage Claim and exiting the Airport.
Upon arriving at the airport in Port-au-Prince you will pay the $10 entry tax, pass through Customs and Immigration and then go downstairs to pick up your baggage before exiting the Airport. There are endless airport representatives who will offer to assist you in finding your baggage and carrying them outside for a small fee; $2-3 dollars is acceptable though they always ask for more. If you do not want help, a gentle “no thank you” or “no, mesi” (may-see) is understood. There is very little red tape involved in entering the country, and we will be on our way before you know it. After exiting the airport we will load up into our 2000 Ford, Super-duty, 4×4, 1 ton pickup truck. This will be our means of travel throughout the week. The truck cab can accommodate six or seven (6-7) people comfortably so, depending on the group size, a few team members may need to ride in the truck bed with the luggage. This is a normal practice in Haiti and as safe as riding in the cab.
We typically try to schedule our flights to arrive in Haiti early in the afternoon so we can make the 2 ½ hour drive north to the city of Gonaives before dark. Once in Gonaives we will settle in for two nights at one of three guest housing solutions; a small private school, a private home or a guest house complex. All are safe, secure and provide a wonderful experience of urban Haiti life. We will spend our 1st full day in Gonaives, interacting with school children, perhaps attending a medical clinic, visiting the local market to stock up on provisions and enjoying dinner in a restaurant if we wish.
After our second night in Gonaives we will make the 90 minute, 15 mile trip “up” into the remote and very rural Bayonnaise valley where our work is focused. We will settle and stay in the dorm style rooms for the next four days. The facility has solar power for phone and tablet charging, fans and lights. There is no air conditioning but there is usually a nice breeze in the valley. The bathroom is private with a “composting toilet” (we’ll teach you about that on site) and room to take “bucket baths”, the typical method of bathing in Haiti. Meals will be prepared twice daily by the women in the village. Rice and beans with some sort of “sauce” form the basis of most meals, along with in-season fruit and vegetables. Beds are simple wood frames with air mattresses; we often roll up clean clothes to use as pillows. This is part of the Haiti experience.
Our days will be filled with a host of activities which may include construction projects, medical clinics, working at the local schools, working on water or soil conservation projects and variations of all of these. Late afternoons usually include soccer and other activities with the community children and perhaps a “water run” down to the nearest well for bathing water. Evenings include sharing language and conversations with the local Haitian community members. We’ll also have the opportunity to visit several different villages and attend a church service if desirable. Everything we do will be “hand-in hand” with members of the Haitian communities; our approach is to partner with them; not do things for them.
The morning of our last full day in Haiti we will pack up, say goodbye to our new Haitian friends, drive back down the mountain and travel south to the small “resort” coastline we passed on the first day’s travel. We’ll enjoy a relaxing “decompression” day and night at one of the resorts and drive to the airport early the next day to catch our return flights to the United States.