Porky in Haiti - Part 1
On July 1, Loring and I went to Haiti to start up a new drilling machine. We had met at a motel in Miami the night before and early that morning, we flew to Port au Prince, Haiti. Haitian customs did not inspect us at all on the way in.
I had only two suitcases and a small carry-on bag. I checked my two suitcases and carried on the small bag. Of the two checked bags, one was full of clothing and one was full of fan belts, a pintle hitch, some bug spray and batteries. When I opened my suitcases at our destination -Movman Peyizan Papay (MPP), the Peasant Movement of Papaye, near Hinche, Haiti - my bug spray and batteries were missing.
Loring, on the other hand, had two large suitcases and several small bags combined into one. Most of his luggage was filled with drilling supplies and equipment. His all arrived OK.
Upon our arrival in Port au Prince, we were met by many local people wanting to carry our luggage for a small fee, which we declined. The people were kind and friendly but almost demanding in wanting to carry our luggage. However, we were never concerned for our safety.
We were to be met by others with MPP, taken to the nearby general aviation terminal at the same airport, and then flown by a small, four-passenger airplane operated by Mission Aviation Fellowship to Hinche in the Central Plateau province - or as they call it, department. Prior to our landing in Hinche, the people had to run the goats off the short, narrow runway. Once we were on the ground, there were many people under nearby trees waiting to greet the arrivals. A four-door pickup truck met us and took us through Hinche over some very bad roads to the MPP compound near Papaye.
Upon arrival at the compound, we were escorted to our rooms to get settled in. Then we were taken to the dining hall and had lunch. All the food was excellent but different from what I was accustomed to. The meals usually consisted of a brown rice, bean sauce, peanut butter and jelly, bread and a juice. All food was covered with a plastic basket to prevent flies from getting to it.
The DeepRock rig had not arrived from Port au Prince, Haiti. We were advised it still was tied up in customs.
We were introduced to our six drilling students and decided to teach them in a classroom until the rig arrived. For the next several days, we taught the students to sort and screen-pack sand from the river in the classroom and on-site.
We taught them to slot PVC well screen with hacksaws and clean out the slots. Then with drawings on a blackboard, we taught them about drilling tools and the names of tools. Mironda Heston, an American who speaks Haitian Creole, translated all of this and was a vital link in our teaching. First Loring and I would teach Mironda. She would interpret to our students, and then she would interpret their questions back to us. Mironda was a fast learner and understood our drawings on the blackboard. This was great because Loring and I were not the best blackboard artists.
The following day, we would have a classroom review of what the students learned the day before. They had retained everything we had taught them in detail, including re-drawing exactly what we had drawn on the blackboard the previous day. Mironda would manage the review, as Loring and I could not understand Creole. We could not have managed without her.
Since the drill still had not arrived, we decided to visit a drill site with a drill in operation some 15 miles and more than an hour away, as it involved transversing a very bad road. We loaded our five students, Wendy Flick - an associate from New Mexico, Loring, Mironda, Louise Bowditch, our driver and myself in a four-door four-wheel drive Toyota pickup and traveled some destructive roads to the job site.
We watched the drilling for a time, discussed the drilling bits and procedures and then returned to the classroom for more blackboard drawings and discussion of what we had seen at the drill site.
These students were great learners; they never wanted to stop learning. I would be proud to work with them anytime. I hope that one day soon that I will be asked to return to Haiti to work with these students.
One evening, we were invited to a birthday party for Agathe Jean-Baptiste, a medical doctor who has just opened a small clinic in Papaye for the villagers and who also is the daughter of Mr. Chavannes Jeans-Baptiste, the director semence of MPP. A woman, the instructor and teacher for 37 midwife students at MPP, asked me to dance … and I did. Everyone took photos of Porky dancing and said this event was worthy of publishing in the National Driller.
After nine days, the drill had not arrived and still was not on the way to Papaye. On Thursday evening, since it did not look like the drill was going to arrive before we were to leave on the following Monday, Loring and Louise decided we should just head for the United States. So Loring and I packed our suitcases.
About 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning, Louise came running to our guesthouse and told us to get in the truck, because the charter plane was waiting for us in Hinche to take us to Port au Prince for our trip home.
We loaded up and headed out of the MPP compound on a fast trip to Hinche. We waved good-bye to our students - they had no idea we were leaving Haiti at the time. We arrived at the airport in Hinche, and the plane was waiting for Loring and myself. We loaded up and headed down the runway, mud slinging from the wheels to under the wing. After a 30-minute flight to Port au Prince, we were meet by MPP associates at the general aviation terminal and taken to the international terminal. We immediately checked in, paid our additional fee for early departure and a $30 airport tax, then had to wait two hours for our plane to depart. Once going through baggage claim and customs in Miami, Loring and I went our separate ways - Loring to Tucson, Ariz., and myself to Charlotte, N.C., and on to Norfolk, Va., in a very fast 12-hour trip. Loring did not arrive home until a day or so later.
Our son, Chris “Piglet” Cutter, CWD/PI, left for Papaye, Haiti, on August 5, immediately after the South Atlantic Well Drillers Jubilee, to continue the job that Loring and I started. Watch for the continuation of the MPP drilling project in Haiti in a future issue of National Driller.