“Nervous excited,” Emily said when I asked her how she was feeling about our trip to Haiti. We had just put down the book we were reading with a dim light casting a glow in the corner of the room. She snuggled against me in her loft bed and told me she just didn’t know what to expect during our upcoming trip.
Emily is like me in that she likes to build up her background knowledge of a place before she visits. She’s seen countless photos from past trips, heard me talk endlessly about the artists we’ll visit, poured over the itinerary, memorizing every detail and facts about our fellow travelers, and asked lots of questions but I know that there’s nothing that can adequately prepare her for what she will personally experience when she disembarks from the plane in Port au Prince this afternoon.
We’ll get off the plane, walk through the rebuilt airport and present our passports and paperwork to immigrations officials. We’ll go to a baggage claim that looks much like any other baggage claim in every other airport in every other city. A man in a red shirt will offer to load our luggage on to a luggage cart and we’ll let him, stopping to have our baggage claim tickets checked before following our driver to our van where our luggage might be piled in and on top of our vehicle. We won’t think about the blissful air conditioning that we’ve enjoyed until stepping out in the heat of the Caribbean sun that’s most welcome after the frigid temperatures we left earlier this morning.
And as we leave the airport, our adventure will truly begin.
We’ll be whisked away to Croix des Bouquets, driving east past open spaces that were once occupied by tent cities, past colorful businesses, and street vendors to an incredible cultural district that showcases metalwork, one of Haiti’s oldest handcrafts.
But what will she think as her senses are assaulted with the faint tapping of metal, distinct smell of the lacquer that’s brushed on to give finished pieces a luster, and sights that will range from a newly constructed sidewalk lined with solar lights, a cat hiding in a doorway, or a duck making its way through an atelier where men are hammering metal in flip flops?
When she meets famed beadwork artist Jean Baptiste, will she marvel at the intricacies of the sewing or find a veve from Haitin voudou culture that speaks to her and becomes a must-have souvenir?
I have no answers. I know that as a mother and a teacher, I’ve done all that I can to provide my 11 year old daughter with information about the country that we’re on our way to visit. I’m excited for her to embrace this experience, my chance to see Haiti through her eyes, and am content knowing that this trip will be life changing in ways that I can’t even begin to imagine yet.
Follow along with our travels by following me on Instagram or the #Bloggers4Haiti hashtag.
I received a scholarship to cover part of my trip expenses from Everywhere but all other travel costs for me and Emily were personally paid for. All photos were taken with the Samsung NX30 during my May 2014 trip and are copyrighted. If you’d like to use any image, you may contact me for permission.