Bienvenue a Haiti

Refreshed, as I step into 2016. An opportunity to travel from the western islands of Hawaii to the eastern isles of Haiti fell on my lap. I am blessed to have been apart of this special crew to enjoy some surf, work with an amazing organization, Waves for Water and meet the beautiful souls of the Cormier family. Never would I have ever imagined to visit such a mystical, forgotten part of the Caribbean.

I made the trek from Honolulu to Haiti by way of Miami with my cousin Carissa and fellow surfer Jake Marshall. Upon our arrival, we were immediately bombarded by men hustling to help us with our bags to our car. As we drove to our hotel, I was struck by a site of poverty, pollution filled the streets and the streams that led into the ocean abyss, pickups stacked with people, goats living amongst rugged stray dogs and mounds of just stuff. A wave of dust lay stagnant in the air while jumbo mosquitos attacked my sweet blood. Hah! A group of men hand-carried large amounts of packages on an extended platform wedged by two large wheels along the main highway – their equivalent to a semi-truck.

We found oasis from the masses by the seashore, where we met up our little squad. Cormier became our home away from home for the next 10 days. Our trip was even more special and memorable because of the selfless generosity and hospitality that our new local friends shared with us. Their graciousness was a beautiful example of how kindness can be found in the places you least expect. It reminded me of how I sometimes can take the people I love in my life for granted and how blessed I am to live the life I live.

There are so many parts to this trip that surprised me from our Sunday getaway to Amiga Island as we snorkeled and ate freshly caught two-seconds-ago lobster and crab paired with Prestige biére to our day trip to Labadee, Royal Carribean’s port transformed into their very own Six Flags Haiti Kingdom, where we were spoiled with bungalows overlooking the ocean and a grand cruise ship coupled with parasailing and zip-lining. We also visited the central borough of Dondon, where we helped the W4W crew and visited the wondrous site of the Citadelle Laferrière. Working with W4W allowed me to see how a simple contribution such as a water filter can drastically change peoples’ lives and how clean water shouldn’t be a luxury but rather a basic resource accessible to all. The filter can provide one million gallons of water and enough for 100 people per day.

The people of Haiti are constantly suffering from extreme bacterial infestations in their water source from cholera to typhoid. The water filters we gave are built with synthetic coils that extract those pathogens from sifting through the other end and allow for pure drinkable water to become a reality for these communities. Making a simple offering to a huge yet curable dilemma truly shows how great an impact an individual/visitor can make to a new community they’re visiting with tangible results.

Here’s a short film of our adventures in Haiti –  a bit of surfing, views from the top of Citadelle Laferrière, being around good energy, connecting with good people and growing.