1) Don’t drink water unless you are 100% sure it’s bottled and sealed or that it’s been purified! I was tempted to try the water at the orphanage this time. (After all, it’s filtered now.) But, I’m so glad I didn’t! The kids had gotten mixed up, and they were drinking water from the wrong side of the filter (the back flow!)! Big oops!
2) Don’t eat seafood! Some people would disagree with me on this one, insisting they feel more secure eating seafood in Haiti than they do eating meat. But I’ve never gotten sick on the meat. The beef, chicken, and goat are always cooked to DEATH. But, the seafood?? Against my better judgment, I ordered shrimp Creole this time in a restaurant in St. Marc. (A little respite from the monotony of spaghetti with chicken or chicken with spaghetti at Hotel Jeffel). That night…well, I won’t go into the details. Let’s just say that I learned my lesson!
3) Never, ever, ever, ever eat Milano cookies from the grocery store in St. Marc! (Lesson learned the hard way last year.)
4) Don’t take the short cut to the airport without asking the locals first. We used to have a contact who lived at an orphanage right next to the airport, so we always had access to news of current road conditions. Not any more. Thankfully, we spent our last 2 nights of this trip at our old standby hotel, the Kaliko Beach Club.
This place is pretty nice by Haitian standards, so I sometimes feel really guilty staying there, but it’s a great way to end the week, and it’s also nice as a break in the middle of a trip. One huge blessing of finishing our trip at Kaliko this time was that we ran into several missionaries there who were aware of some recent events on the road we would have taken to the airport the next morning. “Ambush Alley” saves an hour of travel time, but it seems it was living up to its nickname right about then. Best to fight traffic in the city rather than take an unnecessary risk.
5) And finally, don’t ever go anywhere alone in Haiti without a cell phone! On our last morning, Joe dropped the rest of us off at the airport terminal and then went alone to return the rental car. In the process, he almost got himself arrested for a traffic violation. Joe went to heroic efforts to prevent the police from confiscating his driver’s license, but made them pretty mad in the process. They threatened to put him in jail. And the rest of us might never have known what happened to him, because he didn’t have a phone! What finally saved him was his Heart for Haiti calling card, evidence that he was with a Christian missions organization.
Oh yeah. And one more thing: In Mexico the police might be hoping you’ll give them a little cash. Not not necessarily true in Haiti!