Home Sweet Home

It’s hard to believe that we are all back in our respective homes (and that all of our luggage is finally reunited with us as well!)…

The last couple of days in Haiti were a whirlwind of last minute tasks, organization for next trip, goodbyes and discussions. Jasmine gave the presentation to the university on the way to the airport on Monday, and it was an incredibly difficult 2 hours, as the students tried to grill the ‘blanc docteur’ to see if she would make a mistake.

Once at the airport we discovered that our flight from PaP to Montreal had been changed yet again. In fact, it was delayed so long that we wouldn’t even be in the air, at the time that we should have been boarding our flight from Montreal to Toronto. Needless to say, that meant that all of the rest of our flights were changed, and inevitably wound up delayed too.

We got in to Montreal so late that we had only 2 hours to sleep at the hotel that they put us up in before we had to head back to the airport to catch the early flight to Toronto. Of course since the flights had been rebooked, we ended up having to route through Calgary again, rather than flying straight from Toronto to Saskatoon. We made it back to Stoon at about 2pm, only to find that Jasmine’s bag had not made it on to the plane in Montreal. However the reunion with everyone was happy and excited.

Now we have much to contemplate, plans to make, improvements to consider and presentations to give. Stay tuned as we organize our schedule in order to give some talks and discussions on what we saw, and what we hope to do in the future!


Phillip had a number of one-liners that kept us laughing:

  • ‘Don’t show your teeth at me!’ – ie. ‘What are you smiling at?’
  • ‘Was you mother iodine deficient?’ – ie. ‘How stupid are you?’
  • ‘Fais back! Fais back!’ – ie ‘Back off right now’
  • ‘Allo? Allo? Allo! Allo!!!’ – usually said when yelling into his phone like a microphone since most of the time he couldn’t hear the person on the other end…

Things to do When You’re Bored

We had a number of times when we needed to entertain ourselves and we had run out of books, there was no electricity and we had no alcohol. This lead to the following list...

1. Drink water
2. Go for a smoke (Rayna)
3. Pace in a circle
4. Drink more water
5. Play the umpteenth game of solitaire
6. Pace in a figure eight
7. Drink more water
8. Have a nap
9. Scrounge for food
10. Go to the bathroom because you've drunk so much water
11. Drink more water
12. Go for another smoke (Rayna)
13. Rock in the rocking chair
14. Attempt to play poker without money or chips

As you can see, we were desperately grasping at straws...

Shopping Day!

Today was a nice leisurely day… we even slept in until 5:30am! After spending some time over breakfast discussing possible plans for the day, we decided to finish any last minute shopping that we needed to do in Petionville (the ‘ritzy’ part of town). Jasmine had also promised to make Phillip a goat curry, and the market there was the only place in town to get some of the necessary spices.
So Pierre Richard arrived and off we went in our taptap… the poor machine had been used and abused by the guy that had borrowed it while we were up the mountain (resulting in a burnt out clutch), and at times it no longer wanted to climb up the hills to the suburb. The day’s dichotomies started on those hills, as fancy cars and trucks passed us at great speed.
The first place we stopped was the grocery store, and it was in all honesty a complete culture shock. It was similar to any grocery store back at home (though with 2 floors – top floor had a liquor store and the pharmacy), and the shear size and variety of everything was overwhelming.

the grocery store in Petionville

So were the prices… used to dickering in the local market over what to pay for a bag of garlic, it was disturbing to find that one head of garlic cost the same as 20 back in Carrefour. It was the same for almost everything that we looked at, and it was with some guilt that we mentally shrugged and did most of the weekend’s shopping there.
After a snack of Fudgcicles (the best you ever tasted… even freezer burnt and half melted) we left Pierre Richard and the taptap in some shade and went to wander around a little more.


Going in and out of some of the most expensive shops we have been to anywhere in the world was somewhat disturbing… despite the fact that we looked like vagabonds, the mere colour of our skin granted us access. Meanwhile all we could do was shake our heads at the prices, thinking in terms of how many Haitian families could be fed/month just for the price of a shirt or a pair of shoes (or the $25,000US pearl necklace!). It was also the first time that we had been into stores where armed guards sat at the door or else you were locked in once you entered. Feeling out of our depth, we headed back out to the street to simply wander through the open stalls.

the street in Petionville…

Even here there was a difference, as clothing still had tags, produce was clean, other items had price tags, and there was no garbage anywhere to be seen on the streets. This is in direct contrast to the markets we have frequented, with unwashed produce (the dregs of which are simply tossed to the side), used clothing, and garbage and filth everywhere you go.

a downtown market

the street beside one of the tent cities

It left us wondering if the people who lived in this neighbourhood ever saw the rest of their country, if they understood at all the depth of despair and hopelessness that many of the people face. While we certainly don’t feel that we have even scratched the surface, we can at least recognize the complete and utter difference between these two groups of Haitians who live side-by-side.
Hungry and a little shell-shocked, we decided to have lunch at a bistro-type restaurant. At the table beside us were two American UN peacekeepers having a pizza, and complaining bitterly that everyone wanted to speak French to them, and that hardly anyone spoke any English. While it was definitely stereotypical, it was interesting to see the difference. While we had struggled hard to be understood and learn as much as we could in order to communicate, we had forgotten that not everyone makes that attempt. And with all of the troubles that Haiti faces, good communication is going to be required to make any sort of inroads.
Feeling that our systems had enough shocks for the day, we headed back to our little area of PaP to reflect and discuss what we had seen and done over the last 2 weeks. It was only once home that we discovered that there had been a small gun-fight this afternoon… not in any area that we were close to today, but over on the edge of the city, where we had passed all of the UN vehicles on our way back in from the mountains. It had been short and brief, with the UN promptly squelching it out. It basically didn’t even affect the traffic.
All of us are feeling pensive this evening, turning things over in our minds… both with regards to improvements for future clinics and trips, but also overall big picture, life concepts. Our focus has both sharpened and broadened, grown and yet become more clear.
Each small step we take can make huge differences… even if it is only in the life of a single individual. It puts things into perspective.
Anyway, that’s us for today.
Take care of yourselves!

A Long One

We hope that all of you have had a good week… ours has been quite the adventure. We warn you now… today’s blog is a long one.
Our plans changed mid-afternoon on Monday, when Jasmine spiked a fever of 39.5˚C (~104˚F)… deciding to give her some time to try to bring her fever down, Rick, Phillip, Rayna and Michelle took some of the gear early Tuesday morning to meet Mares (our mountain host) in Dabon. On the way there, they encountered a trench that had been dug through the middle of the road making it impassable, and requiring them to backtrack and take a longer route.Ironically, this was done in protest of the road conditions.

Mares had brought his mule with him, and so he took the heaviest packs back to his house. While in Dabon, Michelle and Rayna were sitting talking in the taptap when suddenly Rayna was given a pinch. It turns out a couple of little girls wanted to ensure that she actually was real, and alive.
With the change in plans, it was decided that in order for Jasmine to have enough energy to actually participate in any of the clinic, she shouldn’t make the long trek. Instead, a Land Rover was rented in order to be able to take the road to Beausejour on Wednesday. From there everyone would do what Phillip described as a ‘leisurely hike’ over to Mares house, where Jasmine could take a nap before starting the clinic in the afternoon.
Unfortunately, it rained Tuesday night… in fact, there was a torrential downpour. This meant that after Fondwa (a town on the highway from Carrefour, where we turn off and leave paved road), the road conditions were somewhat questionable.

Because we left early in the morning long before the sun was up, the roads hadn’t any opportunity to dry out. Even with four-wheel drive we still hit one stretch that required 14 men to pull us up the mountain.

This was of course after we had almost slid sideways off the mountain, and Rick had exchanged places with Pierre-Richard (who had never experienced using 4-wheel drive before). With everyone holding on for dear life, and concentrating mightily, Rick managed to get everyone safely to Beausejour where the monastery/convent is.

Breathing a sigh of relief, we all climbed out, and after a quick break, started the “leisurely” trek to Mares’ house.
Jasmine, still feverish and a little dizzy, wound up sliding partway down a slope on her butt, and Michelle took a bit of a slip on some loose shale. Our 4km walk wound up being almost a 2 hour trek down one side of a mountain and up another. By the end of it, everyone was hot, tired, and Jasmine was ready to pass out. Unfortunately, though everyone had been told that the clinic was starting in the afternoon, people had begun lining up early in the morning. So after another quick break and meeting the Haitian animal husbandry team, we headed over to the area designated as our clinic area. Words cannot even describe the bedlam and the overwhelming press of people and animals.Despite being told that people needed to keep back of specific markers for the protection of themselves, the animals, and the veterinarians (most Haitian animals are not handled often or trained, and no sedation was being used), the ongoing crush caused Jasmine to lose her temper twice and threaten not treat people’s livestock if they continued to get underfoot. This caused some initial consternation, as everyone was taken aback by the small ‘blanc’ yelling at them in French… unfortunately it didn’t last long before people realised no markers had been set on the other side and they could press in to watch what the ‘docteurs’ were doing. It also took some time to explain to the local team that given the shear number of animals it was important to triage and then go by first come first serve, rather than just treating the pushiest people and their friends first.
In a span of 6.5 hours, more than 100 animals were seen, and still people had to be turned away as it had gotten too dark to be able to see.
Absolutely exhausted, it was all everyone could do to stumble back to Mares’, have a quick bite to eat and collapse into bed at 8pm.
It began to rain at about 8:30pm and by 10pm was coming down at such a rate that the tin roof began to leak. Rick had to get up and shift his bedroll as he had ended up underneath one particularly good downspout. By 3am all of us were awake but forced ourselves to lie in bed until 5am, when we finally got up and started to get moving for the day. The trek back down and up the mountains from the day before seemed even longer (if possible), as the incline was steeper and the switchbacks at greater angles.So as a reward we paused at the end of each switchback and stopped for a break the few times we found shade. Of course the locals practically ran up the mountain, and a few of them passed us carrying things on their heads. By the time we were close to the top they sent someone back to look for us as they thought that they had lost us over the side of the mountain (because “la docteur, she is sick!”).

Though the pace was slower during Thursday’s clinic was more frustrating, as there were several cases of animal misuse. And while Jasmine was able to treat the wounds, getting the owners to understand that the methods of taming their pack mules was ineffective and potentially would shorten the animal’s work lifespan was almost impossible.
In total, over the 2 days, 136 animals were seen and treated and 7 local animal husbandry workers were given some training.
By 2:30pm we had packed up and were on our way back to Carrefour. Luckily the sun had been shining brightly all morning and the afternoon rain held off, so the roads were mostly dried out. Two places along the route had suffered landslides during the rain of the night before leading to a couple of dicey passageways, but other than that the return trip was fairly uneventful. On hitting the outskirts of PaP, it was obvious that the UN was gearing up to prepare for the threatened military action for the 18th, as there were several road blockades along the way. Being a vehicle full of blancs we were never stopped, however it was a definite show of power and readiness. They have an awful lot of really cool vehicles (and some of the guys weren’t bad to look at either!).
At home Jasmine made chili, and everyone visited with Lelia for awhile before heading to bed by 8:30pm. At this point we all feel like we are incredibly boring, but given that we are generally up by 4 or 5am, the early evenings make sense.
Today, we needed to return the Land Rover, so we treated ourselves to lunch at the Olafsson (one of the swankiest hotels in PaP). It is flag day, so while there we saw part of a parade of school bands. The hotel was like walking into a different world… completely apart from the poverty and squalor of the rest of the city just outside the gates. While we were eating, Pierre Richard was keeping us apprised of the state of the paramilitary insurgence. It was almost comical… apparently they had a late start… we decided that they must have needed to have a bit of a sleep in (since it’s a national holiday) and that none of them are morning people, since they hadn’t even organised themselves by noon. After lunch we met Pierre Richard at the car rental place, hopped into our taptap, and headed towards home. Michelle made friends with the guys in the press vehicle driving behind us, by taking their picture, thus making them laugh.

On the way, we also passed a mini-riot that had started over the handing out of free mosquito nets… though it seemed like an odd thing to riot over, it was astounding at how quickly it had grown, and we were cognisant of the fact that the mood could easily spread, and lead to something far bigger that had no bearing on the original problem.
We found avocados in the market today, so given the heavy lunch, the plan for dinner is fresh mango and guacamole with corn chips. Mmmmm… Meanwhile as we have been sitting here in the kitchen our next door neighbour has been playing 2Pac’s version of ‘That’s Just the Way It Is’ over and over… so we now know… “things will never be the same”.
Hope all of you have a wonderful evening!
Love as always,

Laundry Day

Today was a lazy day as we did laundry, and prepared and packed for our big trek early tomorrow morning. Our route will take us to Dabon by taptap, where we climb on board some motorcycle taxis for two kilometres, before hiking ~12km up beside the river (with two river crossings) and end up in a tiny village to spend the night. Wednesday morning we will be running a clinic just outside of town, and then Thursday we hike up the mountain to Beausejour to run a clinic there. Depending on whether there has been anything else organised, the weather and various other considerations, we then either return on Friday or Saturday. The village we are staying in has no running water, and no electricity, which makes our current accommodations here in Carrefour seem absolutely luxurious as we have both, patchy though they may be.

Trying to ensure that we had everything for clinical and personal needs, and were able to carry the packs, and not unbalance the motorcycle was somewhat of a challenge. We’ll see how we fare!

In the meantime we hope that you all have a wonderful week, and we will update you once we are back.

Take care of yourselves!


Full of Contrasts

This has been a weekend full of contrasts for us… yesterday was more of a rest and recuperation day… naps, reading, visiting, organizing for the trip to the countryside… We must have had some untreated water at some point on Friday evening as both Rayna and Michelle were somewhat under the weather – not with anything infectious, but more a reaction to the difference in mineral and chemical composition. Luckily for us they are both hardy troupers, and we had nothing pressing planned for either yesterday or today.

Lelia, Rick and Paul Jean playing cards

Rick learned a new card game from Lelia and Paul Jean… and after much hilarity (and some assistance in translating when Jasmine wandered out), he even managed to win a few hands.

The smog that sits over the city is unreal, and starting to do a number on our lungs. Even after a torrential rain (such as we had last night) the dust only stays down for a couple of hours. Add exhaust fumes, and the pollution that coats the city and at times it is unbelievable to see… we are all looking forward to going walkabout for awhile this week.

Wanting to have the chance to speak with some of the locals, this morning we braved the road up the hill to l’Eglise du Roche (the Church of the Rock)… this road is terrible on a good day and literally straight up at about a 75 degree angle at times. Add the fact that the rains had washed much of the road away, leaving large cratered holes in the ground along with enormous ruts that the Jeep could barely straddle, and it was somewhat of a nightmare. It was like no roller coaster that has ever been imagined! It was a token to Phillip’s excellent driving and Rick’s navigation that we managed to make it there (after getting completely stuck twice). If we had known what we were getting ourselves into, all of us would have turned around and stayed home! It is unlikely that any of us have ever been so happy to get out of a vehicle in our lives.

On the way back down we stopped at another orphanage that is run by a retired agronomist and learned something about the deforestation that has occurred in the region – leaving the soil in some areas almost unless to grow any crop (whether for humans or animals). It left us contemplating alternatives to ensure that livestock get adequate nutrition.

This afternoon/evening we spent as Dr. Joseph’s guests at the festivities surrounding his niece’s first communion. It was a chance to take in a cultural event, and interact with many people that we wouldn’t ordinarily have crossed paths with in Haiti. We felt quite spoiled and pampered, as we were definitely treated almost as visiting dignitaries. This will be a definite contrast to what we will see and do for the rest of our time here.

We hope that you are all doing well…

Have a wonderful evening.




Getting to sleep last night involved a fair amount of excitement, as just as Jasmine was falling asleep (Michelle and Rayna were reading using their headlamps) she kicked violently (Rayna and Michelle believe it to have been epileptically) at something crawling across her leg. Michelle, curious as to what the movement was about, looked over only to see the first cockroach she had ever seen (which to be fair was quite an enormous specimen). Letting out a shriek, she immediately demanded that Jasmine move, in a voice that implied that imminent death was waiting if she stayed in place. Jasmine, thinking that there must at the very least be a poisonous snake coiled on her bed ready to strike her, initially froze and then gently eased off the bed while asking what was going on. Initially all Michelle could do was point a shaking finger and repeat “It’s huge! There! It’s huge!”. Turning on the light everyone looked at the bed… there was nothing there though both Rayna and Michelle had at this point seen the insect. This then caused Jasmine a mild flurry of panic until Michelle explained what she had seen… at which point Jasmine relaxed and was going to go back to bed. Or was at least, until the other two demanded that she find the cockroach and get rid of it. In the meantime, both Rick and Lelia arrived to find out what the chaos was about. Assuring them both that everything was under control, Jasmine’s bed ended up practically disassembled, packs were gone through, and sheets were shaken. Inevitably, the roach was finally found in Rayna’s sheets. This started another small panic, until Jasmine removed it, killed it and threw it outside. In the meantime, Rayna and Michelle were scouring the bedroom to make sure there weren’t any others… concerned about getting back into bed until Jasmine sprayed their beds with DEET… Needless to say, it took a while to settle back to sleep.

So today was an incredibly busy day… not only did we need to be up and out of the house by 6am, but we didn’t get home until after 5:30pm. We started out by heading out to the live market and traditional slaughter grounds. This was by far one of our most interesting excursions to date… every type of animal imaginable (whether for food or labour) was available for purchase…Unfortunately, until finding out that we were veterinarians, people were very uncomfortable with us watching or taking pictures. Once the ice was broken however, everyone was excited to explain their methods. The main reservation it appears, is that at times there have been some very harsh condemnations regarding slaughter procedures. We just watched, finding it all very interesting. Jasmine almost got into hot water as she had somehow given the impression that she was buying a horse… until another gentleman came along and showed some interest. There were also individuals selling some of the finest hand-tooled leather goods (saddles, bridles, leads, etc.) that any of us had ever seen.

We then went to the national quarantine area, where all animals entering the country must be kept (livestock and companion animals) for a minimum of 15 days, and possibly for months depending on the condition of the animal, and which species it is and country of origin it is coming from.

The national lab was next on the list. They do all of the diagnostics and surveillance for the entire country. After chatting, it was determined that their most common diseases are pretty much the same as ours.

Finally on the way home, we stopped at one of the grocery stores to look for spices for dinner… while there we almost managed to cause an international crisis, as Jasmine and Rayna were so engaged in their conversation that they failed to realize that the door to the taptap had swung open. This meant that there was not enough space for the UN vehicle to pass by another oncoming vehicle. It was a testament to both drivers that they remained calm and accident free… a rarely observed phenomenon so far during our time in Haiti. Having ignored all of the honking (which goes on all the time during Haitian driving), the girls only realized there was a problem once the armed security guard came walking over. It all ended in smiles though, as Rayna quickly leapt to secure the door, and received a wave and ‘Merci!’ for her efforts.

A visit was then made to the Iron Market – which basically is the major centre for arts and crafts, as well as having the regular food and household wares common to any street market. There we spent some time finding some souvenirs/keepsakes for family and friends – and learned that the general fascination with Rayna was the absolute paleness of her skin, not so much that she was a ‘blanc’. A couple of people actually stroked her skin to see if it was real… lucky for us she is just a ghost, and not a zombie! Lol…

We had mentioned seeing few accidents – today was our unlucky day… Lelia explained that it was partly that it was Friday, and so therefore more people were in a hurry to get home, but also the frustration as several routes were closed for various reasons. The traffic jams were therefore quite intense, and Pierre Richard took it upon himself to find novel ways to attempt to bypass it. At one point we were headed at speed down the wrong side of the road (and on the wrong side of the median). This seemed to be ok, as other vehicles were doing it as well… at least it seemed ok until we encountered the police block, who made us turn around. So instead, we took a short cut through the tent city… and whose residents were also very unimpressed. We were all happy just to eventually get back on the road heading home in one piece.

Hope that you are all doing well! It’s been a long day and is time to finally turn in.

love to everyone


Long Live Benadryl

Hope that everyone out there is doing well!

Rick and Jasmine are starting to believe that they are single handedly keeping the mosquito population in Port-au-Prince healthy… despite exorbitant amounts of DEET, each day has brought a fresh onslaught of bites. Thank goodness that we are all on malaria prevention, so these are simply an annoyance rather than a concern. Long live Benadryl!

We upload general day to day pictures into the photo gallery… we invite everyone to take a look at those as well. We are continually amazed at what people carry on their heads… it takes such skill… and their ability to maneuver through the insane traffic without dropping anything. We are also constantly aware that this is still a very ‘hot’ area… there are UN envoys everywhere, with some of the coolest vehicles we’ve ever seen.

This morning we left the house just after 7am… after the torrential downpour that occurred overnight and woke everyone up several times, it was somewhat difficult to get moving very quickly this morning. However, we had a long drive out to the country to see the Caribbean’s largest fish farm production, so we all piled into the waiting taptap and headed off. We were excited to find that leaving at that time of day meant very little time was spent in the traffic jam. Of course this also meant that we were driving fast enough that we couldn’t take the random pictures that we normally do. Lol…

At the fish farm, we had a tour of the production tanks, and then had the chance to speak with Dr. Abe Valentin, the head scientist in charge of aquaculture in Haiti. The production design was interesting, and given that their goal is to build to a level where they are capable of exportation, quite fascinating to hear their long term plans. It is interesting to see that they are using genetic breeding to ensure that they do not have to deal with issues regarding disease and environmental toxicities.

Luckily, Dr. Valentin is friends with the director of the largest, most scientifically run and biosecurity conscious abattoir in Haiti, which was only up the road from the hatchery. Once there we were lucky enough to be able to observe them doing a traditional halal (Muslim) slaughter for some Turkish volunteers who were donating the meat to the village that they were working in. That meant that we got to watch and ask all of our disease control questions during the dressing of the carcass. Tomorrow we get to go see a more traditional abattoir, so it will be interesting to compare the two.

Since we were so close, we stopped at the small village where they make all of the metalwork that Haiti is famous for… bartering with them was difficult – since we weren’t really sure what the actual value of the pieces are and wanted to pay a fair price. In the end we bought little, but instead decided to see the rest of the country so that we could eventually find pieces that ‘spoke’ to us.

A quick stop at the market for vegetables and then we headed for home… we saw our first vehicle accident on the way… and then it was Jasmine’s turn to make dinner…

Thankfully with the dishes done, now all there is to do this evening is relax and enjoy each other’s company for awhile.

Hope that you are all doing well.

Love to you all


Running on Empty

YAY! We all got a full night’s sleep last night… poor Jasmine passed out on the bed in her clothes even with the light on at 9:15pm… talk about running on empty! Guess the relief of finally having the presentation prepared and the exhaustion of the last couple of weeks finally caught up. Everyone was again up by 5:30am, and fully organized (after another amazing breakfast of omelettes and hand grated potatoes!)…

They carry the most amazing things on their heads here…

On route to visit Dr. Robert Joseph (one of the first 4 trained veterinarians ever to practice in Haiti… and the one who was in charge of the programme to eradicate African swine fever) we passed 20 armed guards within the first mile of home. After that we just stopped counting… it was agreed that at least with so much police and UN presence we were likely to be safe close to home. 🙂

We have learned quickly that appointment times in Haiti mean very little… and that given the terrible traffic, it is understandable to be somewhat late to rendezvous… Unfortunately we have not managed to ingrain that into our own psyches, and so arrive 15 minutes early for most things… and then wait for 15 minutes to an hour for others. It’s a good thing that we enjoy each others’ company, because that way we are always able to entertain ourselves!

The visit to Dr. Joseph’s clinic was enlightening, as we heard the entire history of veterinary medicine in Haiti, as well as a very different opinion regarding the best ways to assist in educating farmers and disease control of livestock. It is a real political hot potato… and it will be important to keep all of the prevailing attitudes in mind as we plan for the future. Dr. Joseph was also the professor at the College who had been asked to take Jasmine under his wing and introduce her prior to the BIG presentation… so after the visit at the clinic, he took Lelia, Rayna and Jasmine to the school, while Pierre Richard and the taptap took Rick, Michelle and Phillip up the hill to Petionville to visit with Michael and St Joseph’s boys school/orphanage (the school that Rick helped build and set up).

Once at the college, it was discovered that there seemed to be a miscommunication regarding who was in charge of organization. So despite Dr. Joseph’s best efforts at directing bodies and organizing people, the lecture that was to start at 1pm was finally cancelled at 2:30pm. No worries though, as Jasmine and Rayna had the opportunity to go on a tour of the proposed new campus (most of the standing buildings were destroyed in the earthquake of 2010) as well as meet the Chancellor, the Secretary General, and the Dean… all of whom apologized profusely for the inconvenience and asked if Jasmine was willing to return sometime the following week.

Meanwhile, Rick and Michelle received a tour of the new orphanage (the old one had also been demolished in the earthquake), and an opportunity to chat with Michael about the future plans for St.  Joseph’s and the work currently being done. They then went to the market to fetch ingredients for dinner, before being called to come back and collect the girls from the College so that everyone could head home for dinner.

Once home, for the first time everyone was able to spend some time vegging out on the roof before Phillip created yet another culinary masterpiece. Dinnertime discussion revolved around the Haitian-initiated organization that Lelia is a board member of Fonkoze (http://www.fonkoze.org/ourprograms/chemen-lavi-miyo.html).

After being without power most of the afternoon and evening since being home, it is finally coming back on and despite it only being 8pm, everyone is thinking of getting ready for bed.

So good night everyone!

Take care of yourselves…




We were all up early this morning… and ironically ready to go by 7am despite that being 5am back home. This may of course be due to the fact that everyone except Jasmine headed to bed at 9pm(7pm Stoon time)… and that Phillip not only made handmade grated hashbrowns, but also individual omelettes for everyone. Apparently the coffee was also some of the best ever tasted…

Our taptap driver Pierre Richard arrived promptly at 8am… and whisked us (as much as is possible given all the potholes) away to first the money changer… and then on a tour of the city, and finally to our 11am appointment with Dr.Michel Chancy (Minister of Agriculture). Unfortunately Dr. Chancy was held up by another government meeting, and so to our great luck we spent some time chatting with one of the technical advisors in his cabinet.








Based on these discussions, we ended up with some very good questions for Dr. Chancy regarding our role, and how best to assist the efforts being made in rural areas of Haiti in a sustainable manner. All in all, in was a very productive meeting, and gave us food for thought for setting up our next visits to Haiti.

After this, we went to see Dr. Giselle Poteau, one of the professors of Agronomy, and the apiculture specialist (beekeeping) with the government. Rick got to share some of his ideas, and get some feedback and where he would best fit as a mentor or sponsor for local groups wanting to start a cooperative beekeeping system.

At this point we were all hungry, and thought that since we were a long way from home, we should stop for a bite to eat… however, we had one more stop to make… the veterinary pharmacy. There Phillip, Jasmine and Rayna perused the available drugs, collecting the few things that Jasmine had neglected to get in Canada.

By this point, we were all in agreement, we were hot, hungry, and really wanted to avoid getting caught in the afternoon jam… so we headed for home. There we started to unwind, while poor Phillip slaved over the stove yet again to make some of the most delicious smelling chicken ever cooked… and he says he’s not a chef!

Anyway… it’s been a long but exciting day… time to relax up on the roof for awhile, catch the breeze, enjoy the company and plan for the rest of the week.

Take care of yourselves!



Wow! We Are Finally Here!

After a comfortable (but somewhat short) sleep at the Montreal Marriott airport hotel, and some caffeine, everyone was somewhat rejuvenated for the next leg of the journey. Thankfully Jasmine had managed to sweet-talk the hotel staff into giving her some free internet access in the business centre, so with the presentations converted, and all luggage in hand, it was a short trip down to the departures area to finally board the last plane to Haiti.

After a 4.5 hour flight and some long naps, the island was visible… and a feeling of “Wow! We are finally here!” was pervasive…

Of course none of us knew Phillip’s address… so while Rick went out to find out (leaving the girls and his passport behind as a ‘pseudo-ransom’ so he would come back) the rest sat in the comfort of the air-conditioned Customs and Immigration office and chatted with the locals about what our trip was all about. The now familiar refrain was echoed many times by several different people “You’d best learn some kreyol then Doctor”…

Once Rick was eventually back, luggage was collected, Customs was cleared and we emerged into the bustle of the taxi rank… where we were set upon by numerous individuals intent on at minimum helping us with luggage, but preferably helping us secure a taptap (truck taxi)… After hardening our expressions we made our way out to Phillip by literally running over feet with our carts; then loading up our waiting vehicle we finally set off to do a quick shop for provisions and then to get the quick tour of Port-au-Prince on our way to Carre-four and Phillip’s house.

The shear number of UN vehicles in PaP is astounding… and it is patently obvious that they are still in the beginnings of their rebuilding stage (from the devastation of the 2010 earthquake). Many collapsed buildings have still not been touched, and roads are full of broken cement and potholes. The driving was like any other developing nation, with the attitude that if the vehicle fits, then that is the path you take. It never ceases to amaze how well they know their vehicles, and how few accidents actually occur.

On arrival at Phillip’s, we organised with our amazing driver to be available for most of the week, changed into some lighter clothing, and then breathed a sigh of relief that we were finally here. While Phillip and Rick went to secure some mangoes for dinner, Jasmine completed the presentations, and Rayna and Michelle went up to relax and read on the roof. After a dinner of mangoes and cheese, it is at last time to call it a night. That is of course if the church service next door, and the parade going down the street end sometime soon. 🙂

Take care of yourselves!