Kirstin Pauken in Haiti
Kirstin is a Physical Therapist from Milwaukie, OR volunteering with our Advantage Program in Haiti.
The Advantage Program aims to meet the physical and spiritual needs of persons with disabilities in Haiti in the name of Christ. Our goal is to provide long-term, sustainable assistance to those who need it, regardless of religion, creed or ability to pay.
A Day in Paradise
| Oct 24, 2010
After getting caught up with laundry and correspondences on Saturday, we headed off to Porto Salud, a beach town on the Western tip of Haiti, for some needed rest and relaxation. The area was once known for its pirate trade. It is about an hours’ drive from Les Cayes which took us over lush rolling green hills.
The beach itself was wide open with white sands, gentle lapping waves and surprisingly barren save a few expats and UN workers with the same idea as us. Perfect for swimming and shell collecting! I also got to enjoy my first lobster ever, served grilled and a tropical rum drink. I have always wanted to “go to the Caribbean” for a vacation, I just didn’t know that I was going to have it in store of me in this volunteer experience.
I continue to be surprised at the relative cost of things here. A very simple cabin for the night was $100-120 per person and $20-40 per person for each additional guest. Not too much, but comparatively speaking based on the amenities provided (which are basic), the average wage earning (which is at $2/day) and in relation to other beach communities in developing countries, the cost is extravagant for any but outside visitors. Sadly, to say, few Haitians get to partake in the beauty of their country. Many suspect the presence of the UN since the early 2000s has contributed to the rising cost of living, with their willingness to pay whatever the demanding rate may be (for example, $10,000/month for renting a place).
Folklore says the term “OK” came from this area. Les Cayes is referred to by the locals as Aux Cayes, which when pronounced sounds an awful lot like “OK”. During the time of rum distillery and trade, Aux Cayes was renowned for the quality of its rum. When it passed through trading posts, those shipments with Aux Cayes on it, knowing the content, where given the “OK” to move through without further questioning. It makes a good story at any rate.
We made our way back to Les Cayes at sunset, avoiding the packed roads with pedal bikes, motorbikes and street bazaars, feeling rested and ready for another full week back in the clinic.