Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Hint to the traveler: A day pass at the airport lounges is WELL WORTH IT. For my 10 hour layover, I paid $50 to stay at the AA Admiral's Club. It was a spacious place, with computers and free internet, comfortable couches, a nice bar (with a free drink voucher thrown in!), coffee, hot teas and various snack things available at no extra charge, and hot showers. I managed to write a short story, read, check emails, research jobs, and relax, making the whole day pass by in relative comfort. AND, when my flight was canceled, I had immediate access to an attentive AA agent who found me an even better, direct flight to Rio that same night.

I made it home at 12:00 pm on Tuesday, having left for the airport in Haiti at 4:30 am Monday (Brazil time). Yikes.

So. Haiti. The flight from Miami to Haiti was great--the stewardess stole my boarding pass out of my hand, muttering about needing to bump people up, and I was moved to business class, where I sat next to a Brazilian who works for a development bank. We chatted about Brazil's economy and social problems and exchanged business cards. (Thanks, WMF, for a visually stunning card. I've only got a few more days to use them, but I'm passing them out like candy until then!)

Once we walked across half the tarmac to arrive at the terminal, it was easy enough to get out of the airport in Port-au-Prince. With the rain, there were almost no "assistants" vying for the chance to steal, uh, help with our luggage. My sister's husband Pierry was a full head and a half taller than anyone else there, so it was easy to spot him in the crowd! I piled into a Blazer-like vehicle and was greeted by two of my sisters and a very, very tall Haitian cousin who stood somewhere in the vicinity of 7 feet.

Minor mixups about time ensued, and we hung out at the cousin's house while Anna and Pierry went on one of their 5 airport pickups of the day. Someone had brought out odd Creole phrasebooks, and we passed the time eating fantastic spicy fried snacks and learning how to say horrid little things to each other. Eventually, we made it to the hotel, which was spacious and isolated from the bustle and noise of the city. They also had fantastic food. Creole food is a delightful mix of French, African and Haitian touches, which meant that the dishes were s.u.p.e.r.b. and every morning for breakfast there were croissants (so-so) with French butter (to die for).

Saturday was the wedding. It was set for 4:00 pm on the invitations, but Anna was expecting that all the guests would be an hour late. She was already having some difficulties: in a wedding with only 50 guests, one of the pastors demanded 25 invitations. She refused. One of the groomsmen is absent from the pictures, as he didn't show up until Anna was ready to walk down the aisle. Some of the guests were a bit perturbed that she wasn't willing to buy their wedding clothes for them, as well! However, everyone looked lovely, so I guess it wasn't that urgent of a crisis.

Anna had me do her beautifying and it was fun to get her dolled up, kind of like playing dress up when we were kids. The real fun started when we went downstairs to get the flowers. The florist was a squat grinning woman who presented us with two enormous bouquets and 25 or so boutinneres (why can't I figure out how to spell that word?) The bouquets were laced throughout with gaudy gold and royal blue ribbons, making them look like a cross between a funeral arrangement and a bunch of 4-H award ribbons. Anna tried to hide her horror...and we raced them back to the bedroom where Operation Save the Flowers commenced, involving nail scissors and some creativity. By the time we were ready for pictures, the offending ribbons were lying in strips on the floor, and Anna even had a couple of roses in her hair!

The actual ceremony started about 2 hours behind schedule, and the Haitian pastor was a bit anxious to get started. He raced through the official part, which was fine by us, as it was all in French! The American pastor did the religious ceremony, blissfully short too (on account of our heels), and sent them off with a blessing. Unfortunately, the sound tech wasn't paying attention to what was going on, so there was no music as they walked out, arm in arm, Mr. and Mrs. Pierry Valmera.


1 comment:

LeAnne Hardy said...

It sounds like a wonderful time. I'm so glad that the airport layover worked so well. And an upgrade to boot! That doesn't happen very often any more.