It was cold, dark and icy at 6:00 am as fifteen of us took off from Washington, D.C., and then landed in sunny Miami, where we picked up nine other members of our group. From Miami, we flew to Port Au Prince and landed at noon. We were surprised to find the airport renovation finished, a drastic improvement, complete with a baggage claim area.

We loaded our bus and headed north towards Montrouis, usually a 1.5 hour drive from the airport. Turns out today was "Kitango" day - a ritual where a group of people from one town carry trees through the town then pass the trees to another group in the next town. This is torch passing of sorts that is set to travel through the whole country. It symbolizes that when Haitian people can work together in a unified way, they are strong and can face anything.

While we looked everywhere for this mysterious ritual in action, we could not even get a glimpse of it. What did NOT elude us, however, was the traffic congestion, as we sat in the heat with diesel fumes flowing into our windows and making passengers sick.

After eight uncomfortable hours of congested traffic, we made it to our hotel, ate supper and headed to our rooms to wash off the dirt of the day. We needed a good night's sleep to face the hard life in Haiti.