More Driving Stories

Filling stations in Port-au Prince have been out of gasoline for five days.  That’s 3 million people with no gasoline. 

They say the reason is because an oil tanker from Venezuela is two weeks late.  Probably Venezuela forgot to send out the boats after Hugo Chavez died. 

The prediction is we’ll have more by Sunday. 

In the meantime, traffic is thinning out on the roads.  Diesel is still available, so most vehicles out running now are diesel.   

Our cars were out by like Wednesday.  For some reason we always run them on quarter tank anyways so it didn’t take long.  So much for preparedness.  Except then, in a back corner somewhere, a few extra gallons were found yesterday, so we dumped them in our Montero.  Now we’re back in business! 

Except today Ryan and I got stuck at the hardware store because the Montero wouldn’t start.  The starter is bad.  We just took the starter out last week and brought it to a starter repairman.  He repaired it, but now it’s broke again.  I’m not thinking he did a very good job.

John and Pierre came and towed us home.  That was exciting, getting towed halfway across Port-au Prince.  I was driving the Montero getting towed (with no power steering or power brakes) and Pierre (red hat and shirt below) drove the pickup truck pulling us.  Sometimes Pierre drove faster than comfortable, all while dodging traffic and potholes.  At one point he drove off the road to avoid some obstacle… without slowing down! 

Ryan was with me and couldn’t watch.  He kept trying to occupy himself looking down on his phone.  He did take the following pictures though:  

Towed Vehicle

Ryan and I are always getting into adventures (and he takes the pictures, thanks Ryan!).  In the photo below, I’m arguing with a HNP (Haitian National Police) over a tail light that was burnt out.  He wanted me to pay “a little something” in exchange for not getting a ticket.  I refused, but also didn’t want a ticket either – it’s a big pain and plus they take away your drivers license.  He didn’t want to write a ticket, just receive a bribe.   We both stalled about five minutes.

It’s hard knowing just what to do in these situations.  I wish the police would be decisive and either give me a ticket or give me a warning.  Instead, they stand around hemming and hawing, trying to get cash. 

One ploy is to pretend to not know Creole.  Unfortunately, I do know some, and when the policeman pictured below asked me for “de mil gourde,” I about went through the roof.  That’s $50 US and there was no way I was handing $50 to a highway robber.

Eventually I won and he let me go with only a warning.

Refusing a Bribe

To prevent this type of thing from happening again, I took it upon myself to fix all the lights on the 4runner.  Front hazard light, back tail light, and one of the headlights were all burnt out.  Now everything works. 

Naturally, a good number of cars in Haiti are missing lights and the police do nothing about them.  But they do enjoy picking on “blans” since they can frequently obtain bribe money out of ‘em.

Well, I’m still having fun driving around the Caribbean.  Finally got my picture taken behind the wheel:

Driving Canter

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see.”

– John Burroughs