Airport Adventures: Port au Prince

by travelstoomuch

I was immediately assaulted by three men who forced, despite my telling them no repeatedly, me to let them take my bag.

From the moment I got on the dilapidated old plane in Miami, I knew how this was going to be. After sleeping through most of my flight when we landed the first thing I noticed was the total lack of courtesy that the native people had. The halls were stuffy and hot with no A/C. Soon after arriving I filled out my customs form. I was shoveled onto a bus full (I mean pack like sardines) of people who needed a shower. From there I was processed through immigration, where I was stopped. The problem was that I had no address in Haiti because... Let's see, um, I don't live there. So from the immigration check point I was taken to a small office where no one could speak English. I talked to a wall for a good 45 minutes until they finally allowed me passage into the 'baggage claim'. This is actually a cramped and stinking room where they throw your bag in no perceivable pattern of organization into the middle of the room. After searching for another 45 minutes and finally finding my bag I was immediately assaulted by three men who forced, despite my telling them no repeatedly, me to let them take my bag. I pulled 2 20 bills out of my wallet so I could search for a smaller bill to tip the man who carried my bag all of ten feet to the exit, he proceeded to grab both and walk away into the crowd. At the exit people are hanging on the gates and trying to poke and prod you into their cabs or cars or whatever else. Right when I thought I might go insane I saw a U.N soldier who was obviously aware of my distress and helped me along to a cab who charged me 60 (US) for a ten minute ride. The experience was so awful I actually felt compelled to go to the embassy and inform them that I needed an escort for my return flight out.

That was just arriving. On departure, which was admittedly more palatable than arrival, I was required to check in for my tickets. Once again no one could speak English. For some reason they thought I would be able to suddenly understand creole if they spoke louder. When finally my translator arrived he told me they thought I wanted to switch my flight. After standing in front of the ticker for 30 or so minutes I was finally able to get my ticket. At the gate there was nothing to do or see. I can't imagine trying to sleep here. I would rather sleep on top of an active volcano or under an elephant's buttocks. If you go upstairs there is a 'cafe'. Do yourself a favor and buy a lot of alcohol, and drink it. If you do you might actually make it through the rest of the time you are stuck in this sorry excuse for an airport. When it comes time to board don't even think of forming a line because that is not how it works it's just people crowding around the door to entrance. Just hang back and wait until the chaos has resided if you don't want to be surrounded and mauled with offending odors, mannerless people, and staff that doesn't care either way.

This is definitely the worst airport I've ever been to and I've actually been to Paris CDG. It must be a French (or bastardized French) thing.

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