Our first attempt had been a failure. Not a complete failure, we were still able to have fun (see post here), but we did not achieve our one goal of the trip: visit the Citadel. So, we decided to try again. We counted the hours and realized that we could attempt this trip on a regular weekend. We didn’t need to wait weeks for the next long weekend to come around. We wanted to see this thing and, in true American instant gratification style, we wanted to see it now. The plan: Leave Friday right after school and stay in Cange. Leave early Saturday morning, drive to the Citadel, walk around take many pictures. Stay in Cap Haitien Saturday night and drive back to Port au Prince on Sunday morning. We checked out a car and prayed it would work. That was the only thing that stopped us last time, a busted vehicle. We got the thumbs up from our mechanic friend. We called any friends (or acquaintances) and begged for a porch or front yard to camp in. We packed our snacks and gear and left freakishly on time on Friday afternoon.
|The "Haiti Bingo" game that Jill made for us. We saw everything on the list except for "Airplane."|
Our goal for Friday was to get out of the city and make it to Cange, a small village on the outskirts of the Central Plateau and home to Paul Farmer’s organization Zanmi Lasante. Paul Farmer is Haiti famous from decades of work in Haiti and his work with Bill Clinton when he was U.S. Special Envoy to Haiti. Tracy Kidder wrote a great book about Farmer’s work in Haiti in his book Mountains Beyond Mountains. We were actually staying at the Zanmi Lasante clinic in Cange. On my flight back to Haiti in January I sat next to a guy who was on his way to intern in Cange as an engineer with this organization doing water treatment and other tasks in that category. I asked if we could crash on their property Friday night and htey agreed, letting us sleep on a sweet porch at their clinic. (Side note: I rarely describe something as “tight” but this place was tight! Their large compound had amazing buildings, was incredibly clean, and had working power and working toilets! We are easy to impress.) The people there were very hospitable as we cooked on their white tile porch and set up our hammocks everywhere.
|View from the balcony.|
|It looked like an advertisement for Eno Hammocks.|
Before we got to Cange though, we were greeted with yet another piece of the beautiful Haitian countryside. We crawled through large green mountains and after one turn came upon a large lake that was made even more beautiful by the sun setting on the water and the dark grey storm clouds rolling in.
|View from inside the car...not the best picture of the scene, but it'll do.|
After a good night’s sleep in Cange, we were up and in the car by 6 am and heading to the Citadel! We drove 45 minutes to the slightly larger town of Hinche. We refueled on gas and prepared our bodies for the next part of the drive. Thus far on the trip our bottoms had been spoiled by nicely paved roads with minimal bumps, but we knew this was about to change. We had been told that the road after Hinche all the way to Cap Haitien was rough, really rough. They were right.
For the next few hours we bumped and rattled along the road. It wasn’t all that bad, and Nathaniel (who was driving) did a great job of finding the smooth parts of the road. But, the road ended up being too much for our beat up car. After a small river crossing, and as we were driving on one of the smoother parts of a road through the village of Saint Raphael, we heard the heartbreaking sound of metal crashing to the road. After checking it out Nathaniel told us “Oooh, we lost something BIG!”
|River crossing Oregon Trail style. No oxen were lost.|
Yup, the drive shaft just fell out of the car. We aren’t sure if we started with all four bolts, or slightly less than four, but the rattling of the road had loosened whatever bolts we started out with and the drive shaft just fell out of the bottom of the car.
|Is this bad? It looks bad.|
As we all got out and bent down to inspect the damage, we drew quite a crowd. We could do nothing but laugh and agree that, at least we had made it further than the last time. Our hopes of seeing the Citadel faded as we looked at the large chunk of metal on the ground, but our group is just amazing and we all stayed in good spirits (Ironically, we had just listened to a podcast on Contentment about 15 minutes before the car broke down….coincidence?).
A few minutes after we the boys had diagnosed our problem as just a few simple missing bolts, a very legit looking man on a moto rode up and said he could fix our car. He drove back into the main part of the village and returned 15 minutes later with bolts and tools. In a very anti-climactic moment he crawled under the car, did some stuff, and sent us on our way for only $25 US. Quite a bargain.
|Everyone checking out what's happening under the car.|
We continued our drive with almost no excitement. The road was rough, but the car stayed in one piece. We began to crawl through mountains and then one moment we turned the corner and there it was, sitting atop a mountain in the distance, the Citadel! (More to come….)
|View of the Citadel looking very small at this distance.|