Les Anglais, Haiti | Adventure
On April 12th, I will flying back to one of my favorite places on earth. Haiti. This beautiful mountainous country that sits on the western side of the island of Hispaniola, in the Caribbean, has reserved a special spot on a short list of favorites. The first time, I traveled to Haiti was in 2015 with Harvest Field Ministries and Four:Two Missions.
Haiti gets a bad rep as being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and as a heavily unstable. If we look at economic and historic standards, this is a accurate statement about this island nation. However, if we look at the humanity of this island, there is much more of a story to be told. Haiti is a strong nation, resilient nation, beautiful nation, hopeful nation.
After the 2010 Earthquake, Missions Teams and Co-ops swarmed to Haiti to help, however, they neglected much of the South-Western part of the country. This was in part do to the fact that it was a long trip and hard trip to get to the most rural communities. Les Anglais, Haiti is a community an 8 hour drive from the capital of Port-au-Prince. (For perspective, it is closer between Les Anglais, Haiti and Port-au-Prince than Johnson City, TN and Charlotte, NC.) Harvest Field chose Les Anglais, Haiti because of the immense need for widow care, orphan care, job creation, and healthcare. This community simply just needed more investment in order to reach the potential and solve some of its' most basic problems.
I will be participating in one of Harvest Field's Quarterly Medical Mission Trips, as we provide medical supplies, and a week-long clinic to meet the needs of the community and patients. Below I have detailed some of the Trip Prep as well as a Abroad Trip Packing List.
Warning: In preparation for any country, always consult the sponsoring group with concerns or questions. This is the most practical advice I can give anyone, because your sponsoring group usually has many contacts in-country that can give up-to-date information that other websites and blogs can't give you.
I personally follow a few guidelines for every trip, especially when flying.
Only use Carry-on.
We have all heard the nightmares of lost luggage, stolen luggage, or even cringed when we saw them throwing around our luggage on the tarmac. I personally suggest to everyone to try to only use carry-on. It simplifies what all you have to keep up during your trip, you can protect your belongings better, and usually airlines don't charge for carry-ons (Delta and American, for sure). However, this does mean you need to be more conscious of what you decide to pack and not-to-pack.
Pack light, Pack simple.
My second biggest piece of advice is pack light and simple. If you decide to only use carry-on this will save your back! We often over pack because the "what-ifs", however when we are focused on the "what-ifs" we tend to forget the essentials. As you will see below, I try to pack only the necessities. If I realize on a trip that I need something or want something, I can always pack it next time or buy it in-country.
Read blogs and books about your country.
I know this is ironic, because most of you are doing that right now. However, as an International Affairs Academic, I can not stress this enough. We, Americans, often assume the world is our oyster. This is not true. When you are traveling anywhere overseas or domestic, understand that you are in someone else's home and community. Bad behavior, even if it is the norm in the US, is like walking through someone's house with muddy shoes on. Read about your country and see if there are behavior's off-limits or if there are things that are normal for them. Learn a little bit of the language and don't be afraid to ask questions of people who have been before.
Don't be a sour-head.
This is the quickest way to ruin your experience and those that travel with you. If you go in with a closed-minded way of thinking, you won't engage in the best way, you will miss the best parts of your trip. Also, remember that when you complain, those around you on the trip or the locals are probably experiencing the exact same thing that you are. (Unless it is a medical concern.) For example, in Haiti complaining about the humidity is completely unnecessary. Even the locals know that it is humid, so sit there and think about your happy place and quit complaining. Remember that your problems while traveling are only short-term for you and long-term for the locals.
**This packing list is geared towards those traveling to places that are not as developed as the US. This would not be the same for countries or places that have the same normal resources in which you are use to.
Passport - Always make sure that it is 6+ months from expiring when traveling abroad. This protects you and also many countries require US passports to be more than 6 months from expiring.
Recommended Medicines - The CDC produces a list of medicines and vaccines that are recommended for travelers in every country. Besides the regular vaccines that I am already caught up on, I always have to pack malaria medicine to take while in country and before and after.
Personal Medications - I always recommend 1-2 extra days in case of flight delays or other issues with getting back home.
General Medications - Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, Dramamine, Benadryl, Anti-Itch Cream (Always check with your trip sponsor for medicines they recommend.)
DEET Bug Spray
Hand Sanitizer and Quick Wipes
Quick Drying Towel
With the remainder of clothes, I can't give you a definitive about what to pack, however my personal recommendations for developing countries is pack 2-days worth less than the total trip, and pack a clean pair of clothes for traveling home in. You will be glad to feel refreshed on your flights!
Backpack - I personally carry a Aether AG 60 Osprey Backpack. It is one of my favorite packs for Traveling, Backpacking, Mountaineering, and just about anything else.
Headlamp - I carry a Petzl Zipka, it is a cheaper headlamp but is super powerful at max 200 lumens and has a great battery life. I also like the strap because it works well with hats and helmets.
Plastic Bags and Compression Sacks - I carry both because I like to organize my gear with the Sea to Summit compression sacks, but you also need a place to put dirty or wet clothes in your pack without dirtying or soaking your other gear.
Cash - Always ask your trip sponsor about cash or cards. In Haiti, there is not a secure structure for cards, so it is not recommended at all. However, they accept American dollars and it is important to have lots of small change, because they can "miscount" your change when converting to Haitian dollars. Another thing to remember in Haiti is that the first price is not the final price, you are usually expected to haggle some.
This trip, I will be carrying my Fujifilm outfit. I am also testing out Fuji's X-E3 camera. Here is my simple breakdown, however only carry the gear you feel comfortable with shooting.
Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 Prime Lense
Fujifilm 16-55mm f/2.8 Lense
1 Battery Charger
Lots of SD Cards
Neutral Density Filters 2,4, and 8 stops
Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod (My absolute favorite lightweight tripod! Just weighs 2.6 lbs.)