As you all know, Saturday night was the night when clocks changed for Daylight Savings Time in the US. For the past four years in Haiti, the time changed as well. So, we thought this year would be no different. On Saturday morning I drove a group of visitors into Port-au-Prince and took them to the airport. Another two visitors were due to arrive in PAP at 4pm and we were going to pick them up from Matthew 25 guesthouse the next morning and head on out to Jérémie. I didn’t want to forget about the time change, so before I went to bed, I changed my watch to the new time. I had a twinge of doubt about the time changing in Haiti this year because I hadn’t heard anyone talking about it. But, I never listen to the Haitian radio, so I figured it was just because I wasn’t paying attention to any local news.
Sure enough, when I woke up at 6:30am (the “old” 5:30am) on Sunday morning, my cell phone, which has a Haiti SIM card in it, read “6:30am”, indicating to me that Haiti had, indeed changed to Daylight Savings Time.
I had told our visitors we would be at Matthew 25 between 7:30 and 8:00am and we arrived at 8:10am (the “new” time). Our visitors, Dr. Greg VonRoenn and Dr. Dan Tanty were ready and waiting for us. As we drove out to Jérémie, we discussed the time change. Things were apparently quite confused at Matthew 25 as no one really knew the correct time here in Haiti. But, I was quite confident that the time had changed because my cell phone told me so!
Bright and early Monday morning, we all got up before dawn in the dark because the inverter had crashed around 5am. Taking showers by flashlight is quite routine here, as is making breakfast with the use of a headlamp. As we sat down to eat in the dark, we all thought, “This time change is ridiculous! Who wants to get up before the sun does?” We drove through town and stopped at our regular place where we pick up the Haitian nurse who works for us. But, she wasn’t there. “Oh well,” I said. “She must not be aware of the time change.” So, I called her and said “The time has changed.” Her response was one of surprise but she said she’d be down quickly to meet us and ten minutes later we were on our way. “The time has changed,” I said again. “Didn’t they tell you that in church yesterday?” I was a little surprised when she said there was no announcement about it and no one seemed confused. So, as we were driving I said to Greg VonRoenn, “You know, if we could check the internet, maybe we can find out for sure if the time has changed.” So, of course, he had his trusty cell phone in hand, checked the internet and, sure enough, it said the time in PAP was the new Daylight Savings Time. “So there, “ I thought. “We are right.” On our way up to the clinic, Cherlie called Guy-Johns, our pharmacy technician who opens the clinic each day. “The time has changed. Did you know that?” “No,” he said, laughing. “I had no idea.” So, he quickly got dressed and was there at work with Adrien, our registration clerk and chaplain, when we arrived. “The time has changed, the time has changed,” I shouted out, feeling like Chicken Little telling everyone the sky was falling! We told the patients, we told our employees, we told our translators. “How come no one else knew?” we wondered.
We went through the day, working hard seeing 64 patients and finally in the afternoon, I happened to check my emails. There was an email from MAF, a missionary aviation service here in Haiti, advising all of its upcoming passengers that “Haiti did not change to Daylight Savings Time”. Oh my goodness. How could the cell phone be wrong? How could the internet be wrong? Is the sky really falling? We had quite a laugh over it, rejoicing all the while because it means that we no longer have to get up in the dark in the morning! Hooray! So, if you’re planning on flying to Haiti any time in the near future, be sure to check your flight times. It will hopefully avoid some confusion!