Do you have those days where you think there’s no possible way that all of the things you want to get done can be accomplished? I’m pretty sure we all do. We actually have those days quite often here in Haiti, and Haiti itself likes to throw wrenches in the wheel, so to speak.
We recently had one of “those” crazy days where we went did that just happen?!?! when it was all over. I need to back up though…
Back in mid-January our XTerra broke down. What we hoped was a small overheating problem ended up being a big the motor just blew problem. Our Santa Fe has gotten to the point where we can’t take it out of the local area, so we’re essentially down to a single vehicle that we can’t do much with. On the same day that the XTerra went down, the white truck broke down and needed about a week of down time for repairs. Yeah, we like to do things big around here.
We talked about all options for the XTerra, and realized that unless we were going to completely replace the motor in it, there wasn’t much sense in putting money into it. We couldn’t get a motor in Haiti that we would trust, so we moved on to plan B, which was looking at shipping in a new to us car. Please know that this wasn’t something we just pulled out of our hats, we had actually already been planning on doing this to replace the Santa Fe so we could have two reliable cars and had been working on it with a board member in Florida, who would have bought the car and dropped it off at the shipping company for us.
It just so happened that the following week we were already schedule to fly to Florida for our annual Board Retreat. The wheels started turning and a plan started hatching. And then Plan B, and Plan C. Then there was Plan D, just as another option. Yes, we were wondering if we could actually manage to land, buy a car, and deliver it to the shipping company in the same 5 day period that we were supposed to be across the state at our Board Retreat…
Chris did some research with Drew, our Florida board member that was helping us. They found some good options for another XTerra. Chris had print offs and addresses. In the course of looking at car listings on Craigslist he found a listing for motors with low milage that were in perfect condition, but had been shipped from Japan where they have stringent laws on emissions and motors and all that stuff. He quickly realized that we COULD replace the motor in the XTerra here in Haiti, for less than $1000, if we could just get it here. If only we had something we could ship it in… ;)
Were we totally crazy for attempting all of this? Probably. Was just thinking about all of it stressful? Um, yes. But, if you don’t try you won’t know if you can make it work, so we tried.
On the last Thursday of January Alexandre sent his driver out from Port au Prince at 3:30 in the morning so he could be here early to pick us up to go to the airport. Since we didn’t have a reliable passenger vehicle this was the only option. We left the mission at 6 am after getting the work day started (yeah, that’s early, but that’s what we do here). We got to Port and went to pick up Alexandre at his house, then headed to the airport. We checked in, passed through Immigration, got something to eat, then boarded our flight for Fort Lauderdale. While we were in the boarding line Chris was on the phone to the US talking to the guy with the motors, and then to the various owners of the cars for sale to see where we should start when we landed.
Two hours later we landed and hit the Immigration lines. We had no idea what to expect because this was Alexandre’s first time going through this process. He’d travelled to the US before, but it was always for police training and on military planes. We knew we just needed to be flexible and wait where we needed to. Chris and I assumed we would go through the speedy line but I ended up getting flagged for some reason, so we all ended up going through the special lines together, and Alexandre only ended up taking a couple extra minutes. With that out of the way we headed out to the rental car shuttle.
We arrived at the rental car place, did all the paperwork, got our car, loaded up our bags, plugged the address for the first and best option on our short list of cars, and hit GO! We arrived at the dealership selling the car and while Chris took it for a test drive I walked across the street and got us some lunch. Before our food was ready Chris was back from his test drive and had made a deal. We gulped down our lunch, then headed to the bank to get the cash for the car. Back at the dealership I sat down to start working on paperwork and Chris hopped in the car with one of the guys from the dealership and a dealer plate to drive over to the business selling the motors. Two hours later Chris was back with not only the new to us car, but a motor for the broken down one in the back, all wrapped and ready for shipping to Haiti.
We left the car there, and hopped in the rental, set the address for our Board Retreat, then hit the road. About 3 hours later we arrived in Cape Coral, and found a place for a late supper before heading to the house.
We spent the weekend with our Board of Directors and had a great time working through things that needed attention and setting goals for 2018. The weekend wrapped up and Monday we packed up, then got back in our rental car to head back to Fort Lauderdale. We had the car, we had the motor, but we still needed to get it to the shipping company. Again, we had a few ideas, but needed to wait until we got back to the dealership to make any firm decisions.
When we arrived the best plan worked out really fast, and within about 30 minutes a flatbed tow truck showed up. Jason loaded the car, tied it down, then we caravanned over to the shipping company, about an hour and a half away.
We arrived, Jason unloaded the car, parked it, waved good-bye and we started on the paperwork. We had been told to expect the process to take a couple of hours, but we were done in about 45 minutes and on our way.
Let’s just say it was a CRAZY 5 days, but we did it! We have a car, we have a motor, and hopefully in about 5-6 weeks we’ll have two reliable vehicles again!