Friday, 10 January 2014

buses, taxis and dollars

What a way to begin.  An early start from a strange bed, a long flight, and remunerating for eleven hours in the air on all the challenges that lie ahead.  This takes its toll and when one finally rolls off at the other end in an uncomfortable time zone and unforgiving humidity, strange swarms of baggage handlers and surly officials there’s little energy left to face the questions and the insanity of such a trip.  And yet the weird uncertainty of it all mingles with holidays makers in the same queues and palm trees.  We had fifteen bags at the journey’s start and we went from taxi to hotel, then bus and taxi then to another bus with little time to rest between each relay.  It was one surreal jolt after another.  It seemed as though there was some conspiracy against such an endeavour, everything incurred extra charges, everyone wanted to know where we were going and why, in broken or almost indecipherable noises and actions.  If we paid the asking price then things we’re done with such speed and certainty – but always the price was extortion.  Dollars streaming away, each step exceeding the mental arithmetic and the financial limits we try to set based on some rational view of what things should cost. Though glad to be through each stage.  Then passing through two borders, the first, the Dominican Republic was uneventful.  The second, the Haitian border, and we were mobbed by young men who said they’d check our immigration cards and asked for $10 entry fee, which turned out to be a scam.  Even the’ legitimate’ officials seemed to know it was going on – and as few of the officials on our bus plainly said it was wrong, they still seem complicit it in all by not speaking out against it.  It’s a fragile world this one – and rocking the boat might get you into deeper water or worse. 

And then we arrived.

Friends met us and the ordeal was over.  We were welcomed into the convent and had a great night’s sleep.  Worries washed away.  It was safe and quiet – and the one thing we wanted was possible; sleep.

view from the road