A Tale of a Very Steep Hill

March 22nd, 2013

Right now there is no water at the guest house because the well pump is broken.  And the generator at Heartline’s new Haitian Creation property bit the dust today too.  And tomorrow is the grand opening for their new property!

Guess it’s all par for the course.  Each day brings some new logistical challenge. 

This past week has been a busy one for me because Heartline is hosting a work team of 22 people for projects here.  The way it shakes up I’m essentially one of the leaders on the Haitian side helping host the group.  Many had never been to Haiti before (or overseas).  So this week I’ve been driving them around, working with them throughout the day, and interacting from sunup to sundown.  Today was the last day and some have already flown home.

This morning I took a large group to an orphanage to visit.  No doubt several blog posts could be written about that one event. 

What was supposed to be a 30 minute drive (6 miles) to the orphanage turned into an hour and a half as we kept hitting detours of construction road blocks.  Ended up navigating through a bunch of rough backstreets of Port-au Prince in our box truck (think U-Haul) which can be difficult to fit into small places. 

Canter

At one point in a back section of town we came to this steep hill made of rough dirt and potholes.  My heart sank.  I stopped to see if the Toyota pickup in front of me would make it up. 

The pickup got a running start and then… was stuck, his tires spinning out in the loose gravel.  So then he reversed back down and tried again, and in a spectacular demonstration of driving prowess began churning up the hill, shooting huge chunks of rocks backwards and fishtailing all over.  The steep part was only some 100 yards long, but by the time he made it to the top you could hardly see his vehicle with all the dust he’d created.  

I thought to myself, “There is absolutely NO way we can make it up that.”  But there wasn’t much choice, the road was too narrow to turn around and too steep behind us to back up.  We were literally stuck.  Did I mention our truck was loaded down with most the work team and a few Haitians besides?

Taking a breath I stuck it in first and gunned it.  Like I thought, we got stuck about halfway up, our tires spinning out.  We reversed back down the super steep section.  A Haitian guy come over and assured me we could make it.  So with another grinding of gears we pointed the nose of our truck straight into the air and hit the hill again… with the same result.  Again we reversed down.  The Haitian guy came over and once more assured us we could make it, if only we got a bigger head start. 

This was all quite nerve-wracking and I still had no confidence we could actually make it up no matter how big of a head start we had.  But, on the other hand, I figured this Haitian guy had probably been sitting there all day long observing who made it up and who didn’t.  There wasn’t any other option anyways. 

So once more I revved the engine and this time, in a mushroom cloud of road dust, and nearly coming to a stop at one point while the tires spun out and the truck careened around, we somehow crested the hill!  Everyone in the back started cheering like crazy!  They were probably just glad to still be alive. 

As I’m writing this now, in the background I’m listening to the group talk about their week and the conversation shifted to the interesting ride this morning.  Listening, I’m surprised they didn’t mention the harrowing event I relayed above.  Instead, I guess what really freaked them out was the time we did a U-Turn beside a 40’ drop off cliff in a tent-city village (there were no guard rails).  I wasn’t concerned about that one though, we had plenty of room.

So it’s been a long week.  Many things happened, including getting my first driving ticket.  It was for driving with people outside the vehicle.  To wit, some of our team was riding on top of our box truck because not everyone could comfortably fit inside. Not to mention the view is pretty good up there.  Why the police gave me a ticket and not every other vehicle on the road with passengers on top and hanging off the sides is a mystery.  The bad thing is they took my license away too, which the police do here for leverage against offenders for paying their tickets. 

Since then I’ve paid the ticket and now have my license back, though it was a bit of a process involving several days, as you might imagine.

That’s the long and short of things here. 

Thanks to everyone back home praying for me, I appreciate it much!

3 Responses to “A Tale of a Very Steep Hill”

  1. Jimmy Says:

    So how much was the ticket?

  2. Nick Says:

    The ticket was mil gourde… plus yon san for processing fee.

    (for those not in Haiti, about $25 US)

  3. Beth Says:

    ohmygosh. Pretty sure my heart stopped for a second; that situation with the hill is one of my biggest fears when it comes to driving in Haiti (which I have only done minimally and not within the last 6 years). Glad you guys made it up safely!

    Hope you’re doing well! Do you guys have many guests this week? Hope you, Ryan, and Melissa can have a bit of downtime in the next few days after the busyness of last week!

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