All Inclusive Vacations
Earlier I mentioned some of the perks of my Haiti deployment. One such perk were the vacations! Every six weeks we had a paid R&R and every three months back to home point location. Some home point locations were as far as Australia and New Zealand.
The three-week R&R could be used in Haiti or you could fly to Florida. Florida if you did not have visa issues, which some staff did. I took full advantage of these all-inclusive vacations! So did some 100+ international staff deployed to Haiti.
Jacmel – Haiti
At the end of May, I had already settled in nicely in Haiti. A couple of weeks prior to my schedule 6 week break we had a long weekend. I decided that it would be nice to see the Southern coast, in Jacmel.
The drive to Jacmel was spectacular. The winding roads over the mountains created an amazing view. The distance from Petionville to Jacmel is only 85km; however, this is a minimum 3-hour drive. One does not just speed along (unless you are Haitian). The turns and corners are abundant and stops to enjoy the view are mandatory.
At the end of our three-hour journey, we arrived at the Cvadier Plage hotel. The hotel is situated in a cove with a delightful beach. Arriving late, around 9pm, it was just time to really relax and wait to see things in the morning.
The next morning, we got a view of our surroundings in the day light. The cove beach was so beautiful and the fishermen were already out. Taking a walk down to the beach we enjoyed the tranquility of it all. The fishermen brought us some fresh conch that they prepared for us. The day was a delight just relaxing in the cove.
The next morning, we all decided that we would go to Marigot. This is roughly 25km from Jacmel along the Southern coast. We had heard that the beach here was amazing so yes, we had to go. This was another beautiful drive with the ocean on our right side the entire way.
When we got to Marigot, I parked my nice Hilux right next to the beach! Did I say how amazing was my truck! Anyway, one could walk for miles and miles along this beautiful white sandy beach. It was here that I met the German embassy security detail. Two German policemen who we quickly befriended, showed us around Marigot and the beach.
We learned that this was an entry point for narco traffickers on the way to the US from points South. Oddly enough, we met some during our walk along the beach. Other than the dealers, there were also many locals who had set up shop. Tourism at one point was high along the Southern coast, and with the influx of expats, was picking up.
I ended up purchasing a couple of statues and a hammock of all things! I liked the statues, they were really well made and crafted. There was not anything else that I could see myself purchasing here, but my take was enough. I would need to find ways to start carting this stuff back home eventually.
That evening, we enjoyed dinner with our new German friends by the sandy cove of our Jacmel hotel. This was our last evening out as we had to return the next day to Petionville and get ready to return to work.
Florida – Fort Lauderdale
The first R&R trip that I took was in August. I did fly home in June to celebrate my birthday and spend time with my family. But August was the first of many all-inclusive vacations! By this point, things on the home front were showing signs of fatigue. All the travel and time away was definitely having an impact.
To try to relieve some of the strain, we decided a nice five-day vacation in Fort Lauderdale could help. So, in mid-August, my then wife and I made a rendezvous for the sunny Floridian beaches. I brought up some of the many collectables I had purchased in Haiti. As mentioned above, the transportation phase of my treasure had begun.
When I was younger, I had lived in Ft. Lauderdale with my grandparents on a 36’ sail boat, so I had some familiarity with the area. We stayed at a quaint little hotel right on the beach with an amazing view of the ocean. The staff here were really friendly and we met some new friends in the beach bar.
What started out as a perfect vacation did not end as well as one could hope. In reality, this was the beginning of the end for my relationship. Making the best of the beach and activities, the week was quite enjoyable. Our new friends were fun to hang around with, and it was nice just to relax away from the toils of Haiti.
Home – Canada
Following the week in Haiti in August, I had been approached for a new position in World Vision. Brendan had called to inform me that he was leaving the Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT) and looking for his replacement. I told him I would be interested in the process and would have to discuss with my family.
In late September, I had my regular trip home. I flew up to Canada for a week to spend time with my family and see my kids. During this time, I had interviewed for the GRRT position with Steve G, the director. It was fortuitous that I was home for this as I was also given the offer during the same week.
The offer was that I could be based in one of three locations, Singapore, Cyprus or Costa Rica. Thinking that this could be ideal for my family, to leave Canada and live in a nice location. We had decided that Costa Rica would be the choice. Initially, the plan was that finally we would all be together in one location.
Having signed my new contract in September after returning to Haiti, it was time to prepare. In November, at the six-week R&R slot, I chose to return to Canada and begin looking at what needed to be done to move to Costa Rica.
It was then where the doubts were becoming apparent, and not by me. I was determined to make Costa Rica happen. This was a week of a lot of negotiating and planning, and will be revealed in a future blog post!
This was my last all-inclusive trip out of Haiti, but most certainly not my last with WV.
Next – OCS – Hostage Survival Training