On the way to Flamand

We left Port Au Prince this morning in our beat up, 4WD, rental vehicle for Les Cayes, a province in the Southwest of Haiti where many thousands of survivors migrated after the earthquake. Before January, we had built eight schools in this part of Haiti and we have broke ground on two since then.  We believe that these two are among the first post earthquake schools under construction anywhere in the country.  Our goal was to make it to the village of Flamand, where we are nearly finished building the the first.  But we weren’t sure our beater truck, with 233,000 miles on the odometer, had it in her to make it over the mountain pass that separates Les Cayes from Port Au Prince.  It turned out to be a legitimate concern.

The truck overheated as we reached the top of the pass, then the engine conked out when we started to coast down the mountain.  We pulled over, popped the hood and saw that the radiator had leaked out all of its water.  The highway was deserted, but the good news was that we were on one of the few paved roads in Haiti.  We figured the worst-case scenario would be coasting down the mountain to the nearest town.

Within ten minutes, a few curious men descended from the mountainside to check out our situation.  They took a look under the hood, diagnosed our problem, and one man immediately sprinted back up the mountain in the 100 degree heat.  We were all drenched in sweat just standing outside the truck, so his effort seemed super-human.  Fifteen minutes later, he trotted back down with a five-gallon bucket of water and he wasn’t even sweating.

We filled up the radiator, and as we tried to thank him he graciously smiled and headed back up the mountain as if to say… this is Haiti.  You are welcome.

p.s.  We never got to take his photo, or even got his name, but his kindness will always be remembered.

Checking under the hood as we are broken down in the Haitian mountains.