My birthday is always a hard one to plan around. Most of my friends are gone on Christmas Eve to be with their families for the holidays. This year I wanted to do something special, as it was my 21st birthday. Not being a party person, Vegas was out of the question. I decided I would travel for my birthday since I treasure travel above all else. I decided I would travel to Haiti to do a cultural exchange and clean water project. I went with a group called Volunteers for Peace. I left in the wee hours of December 24th and landed in Port-au-Prince on Christmas day.
I am glad that I went during the winter because Port-au-Prince is hot (and only gets hotter in the summer). Despite being hot, my first impression of Haiti was that I would feel right at home. I was welcomed with open arms and taken to a small hotel in Delmas 60. At the hotel, I enjoyed spending time with some of the locals, including the children of the owner. I love spending time with children from other countries. They are always curious and eager to learn and practice their English, and these kids were no exception – I got everything from basic lessons in Creole to lessons on politics in Haiti. That night we had a special goat dish (which was probably one of the tastiest things I have ever eaten). Overall, the food in Haiti is amazingly delicious.
By the 27th of December, the rest of the volunteers had arrived. It was a great group. One of the things I love about traveling and volunteering with organizations is you get to meet the most interesting and kind-hearted people. Every one of the volunteers had an interesting story and motive for coming and I am so glad I got to share the experience with them.
After everyone had arrived, we took a tour of Port-au-Prince, and it was a real eye opener. I have found that it does not matter how many pictures you look at, or how many articles you read, or how many other places you have been, nothing can quite prepare you for the scenes of ultra poverty. It is hard to describe some of the things I witnessed in Haiti, such as the large burn piles, the dirty water, the devastation from the earthquake. It was an amazing day filled with visits to museums, the Hotel Oloffson, and a visit to the Iron Market downtown.
You can see more from my trip to Haiti here.