Written by Micah Aurand, assistant store manager at the Many Hands Thrift Market in Grimes, IA. This is her first time to Haiti.
Sylvain, Haiti – 11/04/2016
I was given several pieces of advice before my trip to Haiti. “If you don’t like spicy food, eat around the red specks when you are served eggs for breakfast.” “The kids will ask you for gifts; don’t be afraid to tell them ‘no.’” “Grab the back lower half of your skirt and pull it forward and up before climbing on the back of a motorcycle.” I have used these nuggets of wisdom all within the first thirty-six hours of touching ground in Haiti.
“Pignon is the only grass landing strip we use,” one of the pilots commented when my team boarded the plane after going through customs at Cap Haitian. Soon enough, I was standing on a pleasantly warm grassy field watching the World War II prop plane glide away, five passengers the lighter. Content to finally be in Haiti and excited for what might lay ahead, we loaded the Many Hands three-wheeler with our luggage. As it became apparent that two of our small group would need to ride passenger on the accompanying motorcycles, I quickly volunteered. Though memories of the last time I was thrown off of a bike tugged at my mind, I was eager to experience Haiti from the back of a moto (motorcycle). I impressed myself by how gracefully I was able to arrange my skirt and position myself on the bike (bonus points for me!). This triumph was short-lived when the realization hit me making my heart race and my sweat glands kick into overdrive…I didn’t know what to do with my hands! Seriously! Should I hang on to the driver or the bike? Should I hold the driver’s shoulders or his waist? Were there cultural rules about this? I was sure there must be, but what were they? I decided that one hand on the shoulder and one hand waist height was safest just as we took off for the Many Hands campus.
Yes, I know that I am probably the most awkward twenty-four year old Iowan you will ever meet. But for the record, there are short metal handles on the sides of the motorcycle for the passenger to hold on to. Now I know and now you know (you’re welcome).
Greetings from Haiti!