Following is the journal of 8-year-old Gabe Robinson on his first trip to Haiti. The entries were edited by his dad, Tony Robinson, Hope in Haiti board member, who was on his second trip to Haiti along with his wife Cheryl…
We left Seattle late at night after collecting our bags and meeting at Mrs. Dixie’s house. It was a cramped ride in the big white van. I am so excited to fly to Haiti and meet new friends. We heard from Pastor just yesterday that the kids up in the mountains are expecting me and my brother. Jonathan has been up there before but this is my first time. I am a little nervous about the hike. We will fly to Texas tonight and the to Florida tomorrow morning. I get a window seat and brother and I will share the DS during the flights.
I just arrived in Tx. I ran up the down escalator and went on the sky train – I surfed on it. Then we went to Florida for twenty minutes and then we flew to Port au Prince. Only black people no white people. On the ride I got to sit on the luggage in a big cage on the back of a pickup truck. That night we watched Little House on the Prairie. Meet you tomorrow on Day 3.
I got 730 bug bites last night, it itches a lot. We rode in the cage truck for four hours to our funny cement house in Dessalines. Our night was exciting and fun, although I didn’t sleep very well because of all my bug bites. I saw lots of black kids. The black people are really good at playing jacks. They greet each other by touching cheeks and they like to touch my hair.
Today is the hike, I’m so thankful that I didn’t have to carry my pack, some girl carried it up the hills on her head. It was a four mile hike up into the mountains. It was humbling and harder than I thought it would be. I finally got to the school in Kawo up in the mountains it took 6 hours of hiking to get there. When we got up to the top I had liquid candy coffee.
I woke up and had spaghetti for breakfast. LaViera is a good cook. She cooks for us. I got to watch her butcher a goat. They use every piece of the animal; nothing goes to waste because they have so little. She is planning on using part of the brain to make a sauce to put on the rice and beans we will have for dinner and the rest for tanning the hide. I played football which is actually soccer. I played Frisbee and marbles. I chased lizards and small fish in the stream we get our drinking water from. I learned how to say “good afternoon” in Creole, “Bonswa” and “good morning”, “Bonjou”. “Bon” means good and “Mesi” means thanks. The kids called me “peti blan” it means “little white”. Other words I learned were: “Mwe pa compren Creole” = I don’t understand Creole, “Padekwa” = your welcome/ it’s nothing, “fret” = cold, “komo di” = how do you say and “lalune” = moon.
It was really fun playing with the kids. I also brushed the Pastors teeth; I’m the pastor’s dentist. See you tomorrow.
I hung out while we handed out gifts to the kids, it was like Christmas. We handed out coloring books, cross necklaces, marbles, dolls, and silly bands. Other people were taking pictures and brushing teeth. Meanwhile the kids were in school. After school we played Frisbee for a few hours. The Frisbee kept getting stuck on the roof of the schoolhouse but the wind would blow it off after a minute or two. LaViera cooked rice and bean sauce, watercress and goat head sauce for late lunch. The sauce had head meat, kidney meat and liver meat in it. There was also a little bit of brain meat in it too. The sauce was pretty good. For dinner later that night we made freeze dried Phad Thai and blueberry cheesecake, we ate in the dark. After dinner it was so dark you could see so many stars, I saw Orion. During the day we visited houses where the school kids live. At one house there was a nice man who cut us some sugarcane from his front yard. It is so cool because you cut off the top and you can replant it so it will grow a new plant. We cut off the outside and chewed on the inside, it was really good.
Today we hiked down the mountain; it was the same 6 mile hike jut backwards but hotter and really dry. It was kinda like hiking in the desert. My Grandma was with us and she taught me a game to help the time go by faster. I will teach it to you at recess. I saw a couple lizards; one was about 4 inches long. The hike down was just as humbling as the hike up only hotter. The hike was 3,000 feet of elevation. I was so sweaty because it was 90 degrees and so humid. When we got to the bottom of the hill I flopped into a small stream, but I didn’t drink any of the water. It was just deep enough for me to submerge myself and cool off. Oh yeah the stream was under a huge mango tree and it had little minnows in it. We hiked through the valley to a market and eventually to a bigger river crossing. The hike in the valley was level ground and through rows of cactuses used as fences. The market smelled like dried fishes. My dad and I tried to name all the food we saw in the market; mangos, peanuts, peppers, okra, fish, rice, sugarcane, onions, yams, rice drying in the sun, watermelon, and coconuts. There were so many people, it was like Pike Place Market; full of people.
We rode in the cage truck again today all the way back to Port au Prince and Byron and Shelly’s house where we started. It was so much fun because I got to ride on top of the luggage and pack packs again. It was a four hour ride. It was really dusty and windy and hot. I slept for half the ride. We stopped once to go to the beach and rinse our feet and bodies in the ocean water. The water made all my bug bites sting because of the salt. We also stopped for shopping. One of the men with us who interpreted had to stop to buy two huge bags of charcoal for cooking at his home. We also stopped to buy some bananas and vegetables. We got back to Port au Prince and went swimming in the pool at Byron and Shelly’s house. We played with all their kids in the pool. My dad swam with us too. For dinner Mrs. Shelly made the best potato corn chowder soup and bread and cookies for dessert. It was a long and fun day.
I woke up today with 17 new bug bites. That brings my total to 200; I counted. Today we are flying home. I will take 3 airplanes to get home. I am so happy to go home it is snowing there. The plane rides will be long but soon I will be home.