Easy 20-minute Walk

I am on the bus crossing the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and finally have the opportunity to reflect on my time in Haiti and just how much I have learned in this unique country. The past five days have truly been the experience of a lifetime, full of surprises around every corner. We were told before the trip to expect a certain amount of ambiguity, to be ready to go with the flow or change plans, and make the best of whatever situation arises. It was interesting seeing how some people got frustrated or anxious when things did not go as planned, while others were much more willing to go with the flow and cope with change.

I know that our trip would not have been nearly as impactful or meaningful without these difficult situations. When we got to the Palais Sans-Souci, we discovered that the “easy 20-minute walk” to the magnificent Citadelle was actually an hour-long, steep climb up a winding path. Despite this change, nobody changed their mind about going, and we all embarked on the arduous journey together, ready to support each other on the way up. Near the top, it began raining fairly hard, which made the path slippery and drenched everyone’s clothes, but we persevered and made the most of the situation. Surviving the trip to the Citadelle and back was a true bonding experience for us and absolutely revitalized my passion for exploring. Without the rain, the journey would have just been another sightseeing trip instead of the teamwork adventure it turned into.

Lots of other radical changes in plan arose during our time in Haiti, from unexpectedly meeting with the US ambassador to dealing with the unfortunate traffic which caused us to be nearly 4 hours late to our own concert. But with every obstacle, we found that we were able to work together as a group and have full trust in every member, even if we barely know each other. This trust even extended to complete strangers, when we loaded our instruments onto a truck in Port-au-Prince, and did not see them until our concert in Cap Haitian two days later. Although there were times when we had no control over where our instruments or luggage ended up, we found that every person we collaborated with in Haiti was looking out for us, and making sure that nothing bad happened to any of us or our belongings.

Overall, the combinations of beautiful green mountains, unique architecture, rich culture, and most importantly, genuine people, gives this country its vibrant atmosphere and sense of adventure.

–Josh Richman, euphonium