Riot-stranded doctor, nurses finally make it to Haitian airport
'I don't think I've ever been that scared in my life,' New Brunswick native says
A New Brunswick doctor and two nurses have made it to the Port-au-Prince airport to leave Haiti amid violent protests that began on Feb. 7.
Dr. Heather Dow and nurse Cathy Davies of Woodstock and Halifax nurse Rachel Blaquiere were stuck in Haiti after travelling there to provide free medical aid in small villages and towns.
Their departure was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was prevented by demonstrations triggered by frustration over high unemployment and skyrocketing prices.
It took the trio more than seven hours, $200 US and three vehicles to finally make it to the Toussaint Louverture airport, the only international airport in Haiti, on Friday.
"I don't think I've ever been that scared in my life, to be honest," said Blaquiere, who is originally from Woodstock.
She said the normally four-hour journey began with a two-car convoy that was able to squeeze through a roadblock by following an ambulance. Then the car was stopped about half an hour from the airport.
They ended up going to one of the driver's homes to plan their next move, hiring another driver for $150 to pick them up.
"He could get through because he just knew most of the people that were organizing the roadblocks," Blaquiere told Shift New Brunswick.
Roads are being blocked in Haiti by trees, boulders, fires or crowds of people with motorcycles, Blaquiere said.
At one point she had to fork over another $50 to someone throwing bottles at the group's vehicle, so he would let it pass.
The three women, along with the medical team they travel with, were staying at the home of Dr. Emilio Bazile, a Haitian-born doctor who lives and practises in Ottawa and returns home several times a year to deliver medical care.
Dow, Davies and Blaquiere have accompanied him on many of those trips before.
Blaquiere said during the course of the journey she wished many times they had stayed put and called for a helicopter to bring them to the airport.
She said it was good to finally walk into an air-conditioned building with heavy police presence, and her family was excited to hear the women had made it to the airport.
They will fly from Haiti to Portland, Maine, today and drive into Canada tomorrow, but Blaquiere is still on edge.
"I feel like I won't be relieved until I am back in Canada."
With files from Shift