This is my third mission trip to Haiti, and it still affects me. I think I know what I will see, but I never truly know what to expect. The poverty is unmatched by many other countries. Being a country with very little money means that the people will suffer with hardly anyone to help them. I’m told that some of the people that we see at the clinic have never seen any kind of doctor before. Ever.
Haiti is such a beautiful country that seems to be plagued with problems. But the Haitians are resilient people. Renel is one of the Haitian staff we work with at the clinic. No matter how bad things get, Renel always seems to be smiling. I have never seen him upset. He has been working to build a house, a small, bare structure he is so proud to own, something that most people would pay to give away in the United States. I’m happy to report that this year his house has had some improvements that mean the world to him—he now has a faucet that drips water from a pipe he hooked up about a half mile up the road. He has also started working on a bathroom, which will be a long and expensive process.
I would like to thank Dick and Barb Hammond for starting this clinic many years ago and growing it to what it is today. People love to ask them about it, and they love telling the many stories they have under their belts. They love the Haitian people, as well as have respect for them. They are truly an inspiration to us all.
Harry Hosey ended up in Nashville, Tennessee, by accident.
Harry was born in the small farming town of Taber in Alberta, Canada, in 1912. As a teenager, he attended a seminary high school in Indiana. But before he graduated, he was asked to leave. The priests who ran the seminary didn’t think Harry was cut out for the priesthood, even though he had always had a passion for the seminary’s mission. Undaunted, Harry decided he would try another seminary school in Louisville, Kentucky, to finish his education. But while hitching a ride in the back of a truck to Louisville, Harry fell asleep, and the driver kept going right on through Kentucky, all the way to Nashville. When Harry woke up and realized where he was, he decided to stay in Tennessee, despite having only a few dollars in his pocket. Instead of returning to school, he found a job in sales, which ended up being a natural skill for him.
Harry met his first wife, Mary, in Nashville, and they had twelve children together. For several years, Harry worked as a life insurance salesman, until he needed a different profession to better support his large family. He started his own business manufacturing and selling laundry and dry cleaning supplies, which became successful rather quickly. A few years later, he purchased a house in Old Hickory, Tennessee, and moved his family out of the city and into the country onto a more rural piece of land. Around the same time, the US Army Corps of Engineers completed the Old Hickory Lake, which backed right up to the Hoseys’ property. Harry developed part of the land into a beach. He named it Holiday Beach, and for ten years, during the summer months, the Hoseys opened their land to the public. They charged admission for swimming, sold concessions, and hosted luau parties, creating extra income for the family.
In 1951, tragedy struck the Hosey family when Mary died during childbirth after having an allergic reaction to a medication given to her at the hospital. A year later, in 1952, Harry met his second wife, Alice. They soon married and she adopted all twelve of the children. Alice gave birth to two more children, making the Hosey brood a total of fourteen. The Hosey family would later joke that the priest from Harry’s childhood had been right about Harry in the end—he was not cut out for the priesthood.
Throughout his life, Harry had a great love for his family and for the church. He had a huge desire to support mission work, a passion that would lead him to develop projects in Haiti for decades. And because he was such a persistent businessman, Harry would prove himself adept at convincing others to get involved in the work he had become so passionate about. He was lighthearted and had a good sense of humor. But, without a doubt, as Dick would come to find out, Harry had a little devil in him too.
In 1956, just as Dick and Barb would do almost two decades later, Harry and Alice went on a Caribbean cruise that docked in Port-au-Prince. When they arrived, they avoided the usual tourist destinations and ventured off by themselves to visit the capital’s slums. They found the conditions in Port-au-Prince worse than Harry had expected. Because of what they had seen, he and Alice were determined to one day come back to help.
It didn’t take Harry long to return. He was home for less than a year before making his way back to Haiti in 1957 in search of mission work to pursue full time. In the years that followed, both he and Alice returned to Haiti as they became involved in various projects, but it was Harry who visited most often by far. He was undeniably drawn to Haiti, and he visited every chance he could. He loved everything about the country. He loved the atmosphere and the rich culture, he loved the spirit of the churches, and he loved the people. He felt at home in Haiti more than anywhere else, and because of that, he visited more than sixty times in his life.
One of the first projects Harry and Alice undertook was selling linens for a Belgian nun, Sister Pia. Sister Pia belonged to a church in Port-au-Prince that employed women to make linens, which they then sold as a source of income. Harry and Alice would travel to Haiti to collect the linens and then sell them in Tennessee to help the women and Sister Pia’s church. They eventually became involved with other churches in Haiti and started taking on bigger projects—they helped build schools, houses, and dispensaries. They also distributed funds collected from their church at home to give to priests in Haiti for pastoral needs.
In the mid-1970s, after traveling to Haiti for nearly twenty years, Harry realized he and Alice could no longer support numerous projects alone. Harry encouraged his church in Nashville to get involved with some of their efforts. During a presentation to the congregation about their work in Haiti, Harry’s stories got the attention of a parishioner named Theresa Patterson. Theresa became so interested in his cause that she asked if she could join Harry the next time he visited Haiti. Later that year, she accompanied Harry to Beauchamp, in Haiti’s Nord-Ouest department, where they visited churches and talked to priests to get a better idea of the specific needs of the Haitian people. While on their trip, Harry and Theresa discussed the possibility of getting other churches back in the United States, outside of their own, involved in missionary efforts in Haiti. They decided that after returning Theresa would petition the Diocese of Nashville for support, and Harry would reach out to parishes outside of the state.
Out of their newfound partnership, Harry and Theresa created the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas (PTPA), linking Catholic parishes in the United States with parishes in Haiti. Through the program, US parishes provided monetary support for parishes in Haiti for religious, educational, and medical needs—a kind of “adoption” program. Harry and Theresa worked hard to expand their programs, and eventually it led to partnerships with parishes all over the Caribbean and Latin America. Almost forty years after Harry and Theresa visited Haiti together for the first time, the PTPA now has more than 350 parish linkages in existence.
It was 1978 when Barb first became familiar with the PTPA. One evening while she was thumbing through a magazine, she came across an article on Harry Hosey and his work. She was immediately intrigued. She related to the article’s description of how Harry felt after visiting Haiti for the first time—his experience seeing the poverty in Port-au-Prince and the feeling of wanting to do something. Dick and Barb had had the same feeling, but they had never known what to do about it—they never felt that there was anything they could do, so they went back to living their lives as usual. Suddenly, she thought they might be able to help.
The next day, Barb called the PTPA office to find out how she could get St. Anthony’s Church involved. Harry answered the phone. He was so enthusiastic about Barb’s interest in the PTPA, he suggested meeting her and Dick. He would gladly make the drive to Bartonville, along with Alice, to talk with them in person. Barb was surprised Harry wanted to make such a long trip—they were complete strangers. But she was eager to ask more questions about the PTPA programs, and since Harry was so animated on the phone, she agreed to the visit.
A few weeks later, Harry and Alice made the eight-hour drive from Nashville to Bartonville. Dick and Barb were nervous about what to anticipate from the meeting but also hopeful. This could be a real way for them to get involved in helping in Haiti. When Harry and Alice arrived to the house, they all greeted each other warmly. Harry expressed his sincerest gratitude for Dick and Barb’s interest. Dick and Barb loved Harry’s energy immediately and could tell he was a kind and trustworthy person, which put them at ease. As they made their way to the living room to sit down, Harry started explaining how the PTPA worked.
With a parish adoption, no set amount of money was required to be sent, and the donated funds would go straight to the adopted parish. Harry assured Dick and Barb the funds were being used appropriately, because he visited the parishes himself—he traveled extensively between the United States and Haiti making sure that the parish adoption relationships were fully developed. He had gotten to know the priests in all the parishes well, ensuring they understood how the program worked and what the funds were to be used for. Alice sat next to Harry, nodding in approval, as Dick and Barb listened. With each moment, their apprehension eased, and their excitement grew. Harry’s enthusiasm was contagious.
Even before Harry finished talking, Dick and Barb knew they wanted to get St. Anthony’s Church involved, and they wanted to support a parish in Haiti where the need was the greatest. Harry knew of the exact parish to suggest. St. Dominic’s Parish was located in Marigot, in the Sud-Est department, about ninety kilometers south of Port-au-Prince, near a town called Jacmel. St. Dominic’s parish had eight chapels and only one priest. Needless to say, this priest was handling a great deal on his own, and Harry knew he could use the financial support.
That priest’s name was Father Michel LaBourne. A French priest who attended seminary and priest training in France, Father LaBourne had moved to Haiti after finishing his training. When Harry met him, he had been living in Haiti for about fifteen years. Father LaBourne resided in the rectory at St. Dominic’s Church, the main church in Marigot. When it came to his involvement with the people in the parish, Father LaBourne was particularly interested in supporting the education of the Haitian children. With financial assistance, Father LaBourne had explained to Harry, he could establish schools within the churches and afford to purchase supplies and pay teacher salaries.
After Harry and Alice left their house later that evening, Dick and Barb didn’t waste any time making a plan to stir up support within St. Anthony’s Church. Within a few days, they talked to the parish council about the PTPA, and the council agreed to support the parish adoption. Barb also spoke with the church congregation, explaining how their donations would provide for educational programs in Haiti. She held bake sales, and yard sales, and more yard sales, and then more bake sales to raise money. Within the church, a special envelope was designated so church members could donate as they wished.
Nine months after Dick and Barb meet with Harry and Alice, St. Anthony’s Church was finally ready to start sending funds to St. Dominic’s Church in Marigot. St. Anthony’s Church was the first church to adopt a parish on the southern coast of Haiti, and the first in the state of Illinois to adopt through the PTPA.
Nearly a year later, the St. Anthony’s parish adoption was running smoothly, and Dick and Barb were rarely in contact with Harry. They didn’t need to be in touch with him—he was busy expanding the PTPA programs, and Dick and Barb had gone back to their equally busy lives with family and work. So when the phone rang one evening, Barb was surprised to hear Harry’s voice on the other end. Dick could hear her talking from the next room.
“Well, we can’t do that. No, we just can’t do that, Harry,” Dick listened to Barb saying over and over.
They continued back and forth for a while. After some time, Dick grew tired of listening outside of the conversation, and took the phone from Barb.
“Harry?” Dick said, slightly irritated.
“Dick!” Harry exclaimed, ignoring Dick’s tone. “I want you to go to Haiti.”
“What for?” Dick asked, taken aback by Harry’s seemingly out-of-the-blue proposal.
“Well, since St. Anthony’s Church has been supporting St. Dominic’s Parish for some time now, I think you should go to Haiti and meet Father LaBourne.”
Dick wasted no time in giving his answer. “No!” he told Harry, firmly.
Dick told Harry there was no way he was going to Haiti. He was busy with work and Barb was teaching, and the kids were in school. He couldn’t be away from home. International travel was simply out of the question. But Harry was unwavering. He again pressed Dick to consider making the trip. Dick refused his request once more, said goodnight, and hung up the phone.
But Dick had a feeling Harry did not take his answer seriously. What he didn’t realize at the time was that Harry was an unrelenting salesman, and he would not stop until he sold Dick on the idea of going to Haiti. Over the next few weeks, Harry, along with Alice, called Dick and Barb’s house every few days, badgering Dick about meeting Father LaBourne in person. Eventually, Dick grew tired of arguing with Harry and started to listen to his reasoning. Harry explained that he wanted Dick to see how the funds St. Anthony’s Church was sending were being used and how it was truly helping with the children’s educational needs. It was important to Harry that Dick and Barb retained their interest in supporting St. Dominic’s Parish. And besides, Father LaBourne could use the help of a deacon like Dick with his parish duties. He was handling more weddings and baptisms and masses than one priest should on his own.
What Harry didn’t say to Dick was that his plea was a part of a larger plan. Harry had a feeling that Dick was capable of doing more than just supporting a parish from home. If he could convince Dick to go to Haiti, he thought Dick would see something special in the people of the country and the spirituality of the Haitians, just as Harry had years before. And then, hopefully, Dick would realize he wanted to get more involved in working in Haiti—maybe even do something big.
After weeks of pestering, Dick finally gave up and agreed to travel to Marigot for a four-day weekend, mostly just to get Harry and Alice to leave him alone. Harry was ecstatic. He told Dick to go ahead and make arrangements to leave in the next few weeks. He and Alice would already be in Haiti by the time Dick arrived, and they would pick him up at the François Duvalier International Airport (later to become the Toussaint Louverture International Airport) in Port-au-Prince. They would all stay the night in the city and the next day drive the few hours south to Marigot.
As Dick prepared to return to Haiti, something he thought he would never do, he became increasingly nervous thinking about what might happen to him. He knew Haiti could be a dangerous place to visit—he was familiar with the political state of the country under Baby Doc’s rule, and he figured he could be a target just as much as anyone else.
The night before he left, he carefully packed boxes of donated items that Barb had collected from the St. Anthony’s Church congregation to take with him. As he arranged the clothes, shoes, and medications like pain relievers and vitamins that he would soon be distributing to Haitians in Marigot, he thought about whom he might meet in Haiti, and what he might see. He became more anxious as he packed his personal belongings, not knowing exactly what to bring for himself. He realized he didn’t know what he would be doing while he was there. He didn’t know what the agenda was at all. He was blindly following Harry’s lead. Dick became increasingly concerned about relying completely on someone else to make plans for him, and, even though he trusted Harry, he wasn’t sure what he was getting himself into.
Before leaving, Dick spoke to Harry one last time on the phone, just to make sure everything was in order before he departed. Harry told him not to worry about traveling to Haiti alone—everything would be fine.
Worried was exactly what he should have been.
It was 1980. Dick was heading to Haiti for the second time in his life. While on the flight from Miami to Port-au-Prince, Dick sat behind two men traveling with a missionary group. He could clearly hear their conversation, which was one he would never forget. The two men were busy discussing how much peanut brittle they had brought with them. Dick gathered that they had prepared the peanut brittle to give to the Haitians while the missionaries built some sort of structure. Their plan was to keep the Haitians, adults and children alike, occupied with sweet treats while the Americans worked.
Dick couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He didn’t understand why they had picked peanut brittle of all things—something with limited nutritional value that would rot their teeth. But more importantly, he was bothered that the two men seemed to have no intention of involving any Haitians with the construction project. Surely, Dick thought to himself, the Haitians would know more than the Americans about building in their own country—which materials to use, what construction equipment was available, and where to get supplies. Dick was baffled, bristling at their arrogance.
When the plane arrived, Dick headed to baggage claim to gather his bags and boxes before he went through customs. Harry had warned him before he left that if he packed the boxes so that the usable goods were on top, Haitian customs workers might confiscate those items. Customs in the Port-au-Prince airport checked everything coming in and sometimes removed things with no explanation. It made it difficult to fly anything useful into Haiti, especially medications. At Harry’s suggestion, Dick had put a false bottom in the boxes. After searching and finding nothing other than clothes, the customs agents let him go, motioning him toward the airport exit. Dick, pleased that Harry’s idea had worked, picked up his belongings, and headed out of the airport.
As soon as Dick walked through the exit doors into the stagnant heat of the early evening, he was engulfed in disarray. His memory of the crowds in Port-au-Prince came back to him as his eyes darted around, searching for Harry and Alice among the faces. The airport was swamped with cars and motorbikes. Family members waited for the arrival of other passengers, pressed tightly against a small barrier outside the main doors. Immediately, a group of Haitian tap tap drivers surrounded Dick from all sides, loudly competing for his attention. Ready to make a quick buck from a tourist, the men offered to carry his luggage or give him a ride. Dick didn’t see Harry or Alice anywhere as he scanned the parking lot—he had expected them to be waiting right out front.
Dick found a spot on the sidewalk a small distance away from the crowd to set his things down as he waited. The tap tap drivers continued to follow him closely, all frantically vying to win him over. The men even tried to pick up Dick’s boxes while grabbing his arm, trying to lead him toward their vehicles. He kept telling them that someone was coming to pick him up, that he didn’t need a ride, that he was fine. He repeated himself to no avail. The tap tap drivers persisted.
“Let me take you to a hotel,” one Haitian man said in halting English.
“That makes no sense. Harry won’t know where I am,” Dick responded, confused and overwhelmed.
“Oh, he will find you, don’t worry, we know where to take you, he will find you,” insisted another driver. Dick thought, I’m dumb, but I’m not that dumb. He knew these men didn’t know who Harry was, nor did they have any idea where he was staying that night—Dick didn’t even know where he was staying that night. He didn’t have a phone number to try to get in touch with Harry, nor a clue where a phone might be anyway. As time went by, he grew increasingly concerned about why Harry was so late. He didn’t know what he would do if he didn’t show up. He was completely alone and didn’t know where to go.
A few hours had gone by. It was getting later and later in the evening. The sun had set, and the day was turning into night. Lights began to turn off—first inside the terminal, and then outside along the one road traveling in and out of the airport. Traffic was thinning out and eventually disappeared as the last plane took off for the day. The crowd of passengers and family members went home, and the tap tap drivers, giving up on Dick, scattered off to try to drum up business elsewhere. Dick was the only one left. His worry was turning into panic.
All of a sudden, he saw headlights beaming in his direction. It was a small car, puttering down the road into the airport, at a dull, slow speed. The vehicle drove up to the sidewalk where he was standing, and the driver’s-side window rolled down. Inside sat Harry and Alice.
“Hi Dick!” said Harry, without a hint of an apology.
Dick was fuming, even though he was relieved to see Harry.
“Damn it, Harry!” Dick said, his fists clenched by his side. He couldn’t believe Harry had enticed him to leave home, promising him everything was ready for him, and then hadn’t even picked him up from the airport on time. Harry turned his head away from Dick and looked over at Alice in the passenger seat.
“See, I told you, Harry,” Alice said, very matter of fact. “I said he was going to be mad at you, and I was right.”
“What the heck happened?” Dick pleaded, desperately wanting an explanation for their tardiness.
“Oh, I just forgot,” Harry said, with an air of casualness. He was either unaware of, or simply choosing to ignore, Dick’s anger. “Get in, Dick!”
Dick threw his things into the backseat and got into the car. He slumped in his seat, visibly upset about Harry’s forgetfulness, and he insisted he be taken to the guesthouse right away. He was exhausted and ready to be by himself for the night so he could get some rest.
Harry pulled away from the curb, leaving the now-vacant airport behind. Unbeknownst to Dick, however, they were not headed to the guesthouse. Harry had a different plan in mind for when Dick arrived in Haiti. He started driving towards an area of Port-au-Prince called Cité Soleil (Sun City), located just west of the airport. The largest slum in the city, Cité Soleil’s residents are among the most impoverished in the area. They are the poorest of the poor, and the conditions they live in are harsh—they have no functioning sewer system and virtually no electricity. Many of the homes are made of scavenged material—scrap wood and old tarps and sheets of rusty metal. The dwellings are built so closely together that one would have to turn sideways to walk between the small shacks. The slum is densely populated, with an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 residents, many of whom are unemployed. Violence is rampant as gangs roam the streets.
Not long after leaving the airport, Harry pulled off the main road, entering Cité Soleil. He drove down a muddy, unpaved street and then stopped under a streetlight, which was nothing more than a bulb hanging off a wire attached to a thin tree. It shone only the slightest amount of light onto the car—otherwise, the street was completely dark. He put the car in park, cut off the engine, and turned around to face Dick.
“Dick, I want to tell you about this place,” he began.
“Harry, I just want to go to bed,” Dick grumbled, still irritable after being left at the airport to fend for himself.
“This won’t take long,” Harry said calmly, turning to look out of the windshield and into the night.
Harry spoke slowly as they sat in the car, in the dark of the street, in one of the biggest slums in the Northern Hemisphere. Haitians walked by, looking through the windows, curious as to what the blancs, the white people, were doing there so late in the evening. Dick could see that they were visibly thin, and the children wore dirty clothes. Many of them went without shoes. Harry didn’t pay much attention to the Haitians passing by the car as he described the scene to Dick. He pointed out the rundown shacks, no bigger than an American bathroom, and the filthy streets where the children played during the day. He talked about how the Haitians lived, without adequate food, water, or sanitation. He described how they feared for their safety and how they had little hope for a better future, and little opportunity to get out of poverty. He told a story about a priest that fed people rice and beans on a daily basis, so that a few hundred of the tens of thousands of Haitians living in Cité Soleil would receive at least one meal a day. Harry’s speech lasted nearly forty-five minutes. When he was satisfied that he had shown Dick destitution like he had never seen before, he started the car and drove out of the slum.
At first, while Harry was talking, all Dick could think about was how tired he was, and how he wanted to get out of there as soon as he could. It was scary and intimidating to be brought to the slums, especially after having been left at the airport. Dick didn’t realize then that the stop in Cité Soleil had been a part of Harry’s plan all along. The first thing he felt Dick needed to understand was what life was like in Haiti for so many Haitian people, and, to do so, Harry felt Dick needed to see it for himself.
Harry continued to drive through Port-au-Prince, up narrow roads, winding through the hills. Electricity was spotty at best, making the city seem even more desolate than it already felt in the quiet night. As Harry drove slowly and carefully, Dick saw children out in the streets, standing under the few working streetlights. He noticed a couple of the children were holding books, and he assumed they were reading their homework assignments for the day. Dick was impressed and touched. He couldn’t imagine how they could learn like that—leaning against a pole in almost complete darkness. He didn’t understand how they could ever be good students if that was how they studied every evening. The image of seeing the children trying so hard to learn would stick in his mind for a long time to come.
When they arrived at the guesthouse, the whole place was dark. Harry and Alice were staying somewhere else, but Harry assured Dick that it would be fine—they themselves had stayed at this particular house before, and he knew it was safe. Dick took only what he needed for the night, and the rest of the supplies stayed in the car. Harry walked him to his room.
“I will see you in the morning. Be out on the street at the crack of dawn,” he said.
“Are you sure, Harry? I don’t want another bad experience like tonight. I am not built to put up with this type of stuff,” Dick replied.
“Don’t worry, Dick. I won’t forget you,” Harry said, smiling, as he turned to head back to the car.
Inside the room, Dick shut the door and sat down on the bed. He didn’t know whether or not to believe Harry. Again finding himself alone and unsure, he wondered what he was doing so far from home. Not much had given him the confidence he made the right decision to return to Haiti. Dick cleaned up and got into bed, but he couldn’t sleep. He was shaken by the circumstances of the day and was feeling vulnerable. Just outside of his room it was dangerous, and the threats were real. The Tonton Macoutes, the bogeymen, with sunglasses and machetes, were out there. After some time, Dick fell asleep, anxiously anticipating what was in store for him in the next few days.
In the morning, Dick was out on the road by dawn as Harry had instructed. As he stood on the street waiting to be picked up, he had a chance to see Haiti in the light of the morning. People were starting their days just as soon as the sun was up. Women with baskets on their heads walked by on their way to the market. Children in uniforms with book bags slung over their shoulders ran past as they hurried to get to school. Some men hauled sugarcane in carts as others guided livestock down the road. Motorbikes and colorfully painted tap tap buses overflowing with passengers filled the road.
Not a soul went by that didn’t greet Dick. Everyone smiled, nodded, and said a polite, Bonjou, “Good morning,” to him. Dick waved and smiled back. Everything was peaceful. Dick had been so scared ever since he arrived. He had been uncomfortable with how unfamiliar it all was to him. But on this simple, routine morning in Haiti, Dick was seeing something completely different than he had before. His surroundings were pleasant. He was getting a sense that Haitians were happy people despite the difficulties he knew they faced. Despite the fact that they lived in fear of their own government. Despite the fact that they struggled daily in ways that were hard for him to imagine, the Haitians he saw were warm and friendly. Dick felt at ease.
When Harry and Alice arrived fifteen minutes later, Harry announced that before driving to Marigot, they were going to Mass at a Catholic church close by, followed by breakfast with a group of priests from Port-au-Prince. He explained that the priests were associated with a few of the parishes adopted by the PTPA, and he wanted Dick to meet them. Dick tried to protest, not wanting to get off track from meeting Father LaBourne in Marigot, but Harry didn’t seem to hear him. Whether Harry was listening or not, Dick was starting to notice that this was part of Harry’s personality, and he was going to have to learn to accept that things were going to go according to Harry’s plans.
After Mass, a breakfast of fruit and toast was served at the church rectory. Dick sat down at the table with Harry and Alice and the priests. After a few moments listening to the priests’ conversation, Dick realized they were all speaking Haitian Creole, the official language of the country. It occurred to him that it was going to be difficult to understand what was being discussed for the duration of the meal, and maybe even for the rest of his trip. He instantly felt isolated and intimidated. He became self-conscious, thinking the priests were possibly talking about him, maybe wondering who he was and why he was eating with them. Harry and Alice did not speak Creole either, but they didn’t seem to mind that they didn’t understand the conversation. Dick would later joke that he thought Harry was only there to get a free breakfast.
After they finished eating, Dick was pleased that it was finally time to go meet Father LaBourne. But once again, Harry had a change of plans. They would not be meeting Father LaBourne in Marigot as Dick had thought—they would be meeting him at a church in Jacmel, fourteen miles from Marigot. Dick didn’t even bother protesting. At this point, he was along for the ride and ready for whatever was going to come his way. And even though Dick wouldn’t admit it until years later, he was having a nice time with Harry and Alice. All Harry wanted to do was show him as much as possible in the brief time he was in Haiti and make sure that it left a lasting impression on Dick—and it did.
Jacmel is the largest town in Haiti’s Sud-Est department. A vibrant place, with brightly colored buildings and a lively art and cultural scene, it is considered one of the safest tourist destinations in the country. The many galleries and artesian shops in Jacmel sell paintings and wood carved animal figures. Tourists visiting will also see the popular local flair of papier-mâché masks for Carnival lining the walls of the shops. Jacmel is widely known in Haiti for Carnival, a celebration leading up to Mardi Gras each year, and the event attracts thousands of Haitians and foreigners to participate in parades with festive music and dancing.
As Harry drove out of Port-au-Prince, heading south towards Jacmel, the road curved along the meandering mountainsides of Haiti’s terrain. Dick thought the drive was beautiful. As he looked out into the countryside, the hills rolled and bowed as the car careened around each bend, up and down, up and down. He stared out the window and saw cows, goats, pigs, and chickens walking along the side of the road, right next to Haitians heading to the market or to work in the fields. Outside of the city, Haiti was calm, and quiet. No longer feeling anxious, Dick was at peace with the unknown awaiting.