Those of you who read this blog regularly know that our road trips back and forth to Port-au-Prince are often the fodder for interesting stories, not to mention sometimes-dangerous experiences. We had thought that, now that the road from Jérémie to Aux Cayes is under construction and less treacherous, the road stories would become few and far between. How naïve we were to think such a thing! This is Haiti, after all.
We had a group of 5 visitors from Elmbrook Church in Waukesha, WI with us for a few days and decided to drive them back to Port-au-Prince so we could show them around the capital and visit some places of interest to them. So, this past Friday morning, we packed the luggage on the top of the jeep and set out on our road trip. About an hour outside Jérémie, we came to a roadblock – the construction crew was bulldozing along the road and we had to wait an hour and a half for them to clear the rocks and debris before we could pass through. Later, we thought what a difference that hour and a half made!
We otherwise had an uneventful trip to Aux Cayes and then on to Port-au-Prince. As we approached the city, we saw very ominous dark clouds in the sky ahead of us. So, we weren’t surprised to encounter heavy rain as we came to the outskirts of town. What did surprise us, however, was that, before we knew it, we found ourselves in the middle of a raging flood. Water was pouring down from the hills above onto the main road, totally obscuring the roadway. It was about three feet deep and vehicles were stuck on both sides of the road, people were struggling to stay upright as they tried to walk through the raging water and we were driving upstream as old tires, baskets, clothing and garbage flew by both sides and under our vehicle. All we could think was, “Thank God for our new sturdy jeep!” Our visitors were huddled in back, holding their hands in prayer as Cherlie and I struggled to avoid having the jeep fall into a deep pothole or drift off the road and into a ditch. It was also getting dark by then, making visibility even worse in the pounding rain. At one point, the vehicles in front of us came to a complete stop and we didn’t think we could go around them without falling off the roadway. As we sat there pondering our next move, a small car started to drift backward towards the left side of our vehicle, being pushed by the flood, the driver seemingly unable to control it. It seemed that everything was in slow motion as I backed up our jeep, turned our wheels to the side and lunged forward, narrowly avoiding a collision. It seemed that we were in the middle of a raging river, not on a main street in the capital city of Haiti! I thought to myself as I drove, “I’ve had a lot of exciting experiences in Haiti, but this is definitely one of the most harrowing!”
Finally, after about 45 minutes of submerged driving, we reached higher ground with better drainage and the garbage-strewn river subsided. We breathed a collective sigh of relief and marveled at what we had just experienced. How grateful we were to reach Cherlie’s home a short time later, where we enjoyed showers and comfortable beds to sleep in. Needless to say, there were many prayers of thanks offered to the Lord in heaven that night!
Elmbrook Church Visitors
Luggage packed on the roof of the jeep
Bulldozer blocking the road