Woke yesterday at John’s house to a breezy Haitian morning with roosters calling and forest noises all around. One of the medical team regaled with her tale of tarantula woe the night before. John’s wife cooked another wonderful meal for us, then we left for Port-Au-Prince to change money and get last minute supplies.

Apparently Haitian currency is a bit of a mess from a naming standpoint. There’s the Haitian “goud”, which is the official currency. There’s about 39 gouds to one US dollar. We changed $300 worth at a grocery store. If all prices were in gouds, things would be fine, but they can also appear in “Haitian dollars”, which is a throwback to when their currency was pegged to the American dollar about a hundred years ago. There’s five gouds for each Haitian dollars, and yes, they use the $ symbol, just like USD. To make matters worse, they also post prices in US dollars, so you never know whether it’s gouds, Haitian dollars, or US dollars. Makes for a bit of a math headache.

John drove us past the makeshift airport terminal we had arrived in to the smaller airport nearby, pointing out the area where many nations set up their crisis response camps two months ago. We weighed each item of luggage (including ourselves) at MAF, then took off in our own private prop plane in heavy winds, which made for an exciting trip over to Lagonav.

After being picked up by the Matènwa driver, we headed to the dock to meet the Darbonne mentors, who had taken a later boat because the government had shut down the normal ferry because of rough seas. We waited an hour, playing music on my little iPhone speakers, which attracted a crowd of Haitian men, who enjoyed playing with an XO as well. When the boat arrived, there was pandemonium, though we didn’t understand the source at first. Apparently one of the passengers had fallen overboard and drowned before he could be rescued. Not many Haitians know how to swim, so boat travel can be terrifying for them. Everyone was understandably upset, particularly our group from Darbonne who had survived the worst of the earthquake.

Once everyone was on the truck, we started the extremely bumpy and long ride up the mountain to Matènwa. I sat next to Magèla, one of the Darbonne mentors, who was very gracious in helping me with my Creole through most of the trip. I had a Creole/English dictionary and kept trying to make her laugh, which is a fun way to learn.

Once there, we met Chris and Benaja and Robert and toured the school. It’s really a lovely spot. I am typing this in the “treehouse”, which is a small circular room atop the “round house” middle school building. From this height we can see the full grounds and the mountains beyond in all directions. And the breeze and wifi are very welcome.

Later Robert and his wife welcomed Bill and I in their home and we later went to Margarete’s house (where Beth is staying) for some wonderful Haitian rice with bean sauce and great conversation with Robert and Benaja.

The night ended with 24 of us meeting in the library, introducing ourselves to each other, and talking about the pilot a bit and Matènwa’s approach to education. I think we have an excellent group. We’re all excited to get started today in a few hours.

At day’s end, I washed myself from a water bowl behind Robert’s house and used the latrine, then did a little research on PO files and fell quickly asleep. In the morning I began the laptop prep in the round house, where the pilot will be held.

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