Each trip the routine gets more routine: fragrant air as I deplane, Haitian band playing in the hallway, bus to immigration, forms & passport, baggage and the customs guy that waves you through, mob of people outside, string of “super helpful” men who won’t hear no.

My first stop was Digicel to get minutes and check that my phone & number from February still works. I added $15 USD and got assurance from the man that I was good. Then began the search for my rental car, which was supposed to be waiting for me. Helpful men would not leave me alone. “You need a cab … ah, a rental … take a cab to the rental … a no, this is where he would meet you.” All along, I’m being friendly and insisting they were wrong. “Why are you walking this way, I told you that is where to wait.” I cannot get through to the rental company with my iPhone, my Haitian phone, or someone else’s phone. Simply doesn’t work. I’m stuck.

Along the way, I see an SUV with the Mercy Corps logo, so decide to meet my new friends. I explain my situation and ask to use their phone. This time it goes through and the Europcar woman tells me a man is holding a sign with my name. I backtrack, and sure enough, in the throng of people by the Digicel office, I see my name. After a short drive to Europcar and some hassles with credit cards, I’m driving again in Port-au-Prince.

The most remarkable thing about my drive up the mountain was how unremarkable it was. I somehow felt at home again in the chaotic jumble of Haitian traffic, playing chicken with huge trucks and bathtub size potholes, dodging motorcycles and pedestrians without worry. Up and up I went, using my intermittent iPhone data roaming to use Google Maps to find the Hotel Montana, where I parked, walked up to the restaurant level, and took in the view.

Looking down on Port-au-Prince from this wraparound view, as though I were looking at Los Angeles and not Cité Soleil and Delmas, I felt keenly the inequity of most NGOs (staying up here) and who they serve (the people unseen down below). Within minutes I met Truncano from the World Bank and another gentleman from Microsoft. “What do you do?” and so it starts. Within seconds of sitting down after a full day of travel, I’m in sales mode giving people the well-worn rap. I take a break to switch into my business suit and score a win by asking IDB to let me leave the courseware workshop invitations on the registration table for participants to take on their own. Then people start arriving.

I’ll talk about who I met and what was said in the next post. President Martelly didn’t make it for his keynote, which made a few people upset, but not me. It gave me more time to mingle, which is really why I was there. One delightful bonus was a few dozen children with XOs from the IDB/MOE pilot. After three years, I actually got to see some of the infamous 13,700 laptops with children using them. A few older boys were using Etoys in non-trivial ways, which was wonderful to see. Anyway, a great night.

One response to “D1) Montana Mixer”

  1. Kevin Mark says:

    and so it begins again….
    kids, laptops, hatian adventures

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