This has been the theme of my life the past few weeks. We purchased a generator in PAP three weeks ago. The plan was to put it on a Northwest Haiti Christian Mission Truck that had just cleared customs and drive it to Port-de-Paix. Jessica and I boarded a plane to fly down to PAP two weeks ago to load the generator on the truck and visit a potential partner organization.
As we were getting on the plane I received a call telling me that while the truck had cleared customs, no small feat, they had not been able to acquire license plates and it would not be ready until tomorrow. We almost had the truck. We went to the partner organization in Carrefour, a suburb of PAP, close to the epicenter of the earthquake. We meet with the organization. They almost understood what Outside the Bowl does. They were interested in a kitchen but not a partnership. They almost had a place for us to stay. Jessica and I shared a twin bed in a shack with almost a million bedbugs. There was a huge thunderstorm that night. We almost got struck by lightning. Between the bedbugs and the storm we almost slept. The truck was almost ready the next day. We flew back to Port-de-Paix empty-handed, less the hitchhiking bedbugs.
Every day following the trip I was told that the truck was almost ready. Only to be told the same thing the next day. With no end in sight, I decided to take one of the mission trucks in Port-de-Paix down to PAP and get the generator. But, the problem with the mission trucks in Port-de-Paix was that they can’t be driven out of the Northwest zone legally without insurance. That almost worked. There was one truck with insurance. The brakes on it almost worked. I almost risked the venture but decided to rent a truck in PAP.
I flew down to PAP again, this time with the intention of renting a truck. The company we bought the generator from could ship it to Port-de-Paix for $2,500usd. If we hired our on truck we could do this for less. I drove around PAP with Jacques looking for a truck to hire. He had some contacts that almost worked. At one point we were parked on the side of the road calling people he though we could hire. He told me we should go that this was not a safe part of town. I almost forgot that I was given $2000usd to give to Jacques to clear containers from port. He told me that a lot of people get robbed in this area. I gave him the envelope with the money and joked that if we get robbed I’m going to tell the robbers that you have an envelope with $2000 in it and I’m just a poor white missionary. He almost thought that was funny.
We found a truck that would ship the generator to Port-de-Paix for $750usd. The driver met us at the generator depot. The cross-bar welded to the back of the truck was too low. The generator almost fit in the back. The driver told us he would cut it off and load the generator in the morning.
The next morning we loaded the generator in the back of the truck with other miscellaneous things. I road in the truck for the ten-hour drive back to Port-de-Paix. We broke down one hour out of PAP. The rear leaf springs were rubbing against the bolts that secure the shackles to the frame. The problem, we almost had enough lug nuts to secure the rear wheels to the axle. I inspected the rest of the truck and noticed that all the wheels were missing lug nuts. No problem, we had extra in the truck. They just don’t put them all on at the same time. We used some of the “spare” lug nuts to better secure the rear wheel to he hub. We were back on the road. Our conversation consisted of me almost speaking creole and the driver almost speaking English.
It got dark so we turned on the headlights. They almost worked. Every time the driver depressed the clutch the lights would go out from an electrical short. Lights are important at night on a one lane dirt road with a 400 foot drop off to the rive below. The river ravine was littered with trucks that had driven off the road. We were almost to Port-de-Paix. We pulled into the compound a little after nine o’clock. We were almost done. We needed to offload the 2500lbs. generator. The driver wanted to offload that night. I told him that we needed to do it the following morning when I could borrow the tractor from the school across the street.
Little did I know that my contact at the school had flown back to the states for furlough. I found another guy at the school that was willing to let me use the tractor. In the meantime the driver wanted the generator out of his truck. We were almost done.
With out the tractor at the present moment the only thing I could think of was to slide the generator from the back of his truck to the back of the mission truck in the yard. They were almost the same height. We drove the mission truck on top the concrete and left the other truck on the dirt. They were now both 49.5 inches high.
After much debate, everything I Haiti is up for debate, I was able to convince the guys that we were going to work from simples to most complex plan. The simplest being let’s get a bunch of guys to push the generator from one truck to the other. It worked. The following morning I was able to get the tractor and off load the generator from the small truck to the generator room. Now I just need to hook up the wires and get some diesel. We’re almost done…