I boarded the flight to Port-au-Prince early; after so many trips here I’ve earned Priority Access. I settled into my same exit row seat. A stocky guy with a trio of small bags dumped his stuff onto the middle seat and pointed to his boarding pass. I tried to explain the difference between seats D and E. I suggested he use the overhead for some of his belongings, which prompted him to stand in the aisle and repack everything. An even bigger guy bumped behind him. They jabbed their boarding passes at one another until deciding the bigger guy would take the middle. More housekeeping ensued as stuff got tossed in the aisle seat and the overhead with no apparent logic.
My neighbor settled in with a smile, a firm handshake and a litany of questions. He seemed disappointed it was not my first trip to Haiti, he wanted to guide me into his native land, but accepted my seasoned traveller status when I explained my involvement with the orphanage and school in Grand Goave. The guy builds tennis courts in Fort Lauderdale and returns to Haiti every month to visit his wife and young children.
The flight attendant stopped by to quiz us on the operation of the emergency door. I half listened and nodded understanding. But my neighbor engaged her. “ I can open that door but we will not have to, we will have no problems on this trip.” She smiled, bemused, and moved on. He turned to me and whispered, “Nothing can go wrong with you on the plane. God will watch over and bless us because of your good work.”
Before we are even off the ground in Miami Haiti’s chaos and magic shine through.