“Just sit there,” he said, which reminded me of when I was on a bobsled roller coaster and asked the guy buckling us in how to use the hand breaks, and as the bobsled started rolling forward he said simply, “Don’t overthink it,” as if that was instruction enough.
Instantly I thought, “Oh my God, I’ve put this man in danger too. What if we both get stuck?”
He tried again, and slowly my car began to move closer to his truck. Slowly, slowly my car was coming unstuck. Then he came around and asked me to go sit in the cab while he wrote up the ticket and did something else, which I couldn’t really see, because the snow was so blinding. In the cab the heat was on high, and it was brightly lit, and I felt safe for the first time in over two hours. It was such a relief to just sit in “a clean, well-lighted place.”
On the plane ride from Miami to Port au Prince, I heard a young man, who’d been to Haiti numerous times, tell his co-workers, “Be ready for running the gauntlet when we get out of the airport. That’s when the fun begins.”
As we deplaned, and filled out immigration cards, Julie and I saw the men from New York we’d be traveling with, they were already in line ahead of us. We got our baggage, and made our way outside. I had confirmed and reconfirmed our arrival plans, and had a Plan B too, just in case planes were late, etc. I looked around. I didn’t see our contact. I knew I’d have to lead the group out, as I knew what our contact person looked like. I didn’t want to do that, at all. I wanted to shrink unlike I’ve ever shrunk before. Strangers were pushing and shoving, offering to take our bags, it was chaos. I kept looking for that familiar face. We walked through the crowd, and the warnings were ringing in my ears, “this is where it’s most dangerous,” I thought, and we are right out there in it. When we did not see her, our group asked me to call her, our contact, and when I did, the call did not go through, and more people came forward, asking to take our bags.