Monday, April 7, 2008

Haiti - Bon Bagay

After my second visit to Haiti, in March of 2008, I must say that I am even more in love with this crazy country then before. There is no doubt that I still think that the situation in Haiti is one of extreme fragility. Pretty much comparable to that of a one-handed-blind-man, juggling ten cracked eggs, riding a wild horse... backwards. Now if only one of those eggs falls, the country will go right back to the so well known chaos and destruction it has faced so many times before. The questions remains: "Is there hope for Haiti?" In my opinion the most optimistic answer is: "who knows," truly, "who knows…?"

I can only share my experiences, and I do so while sitting in a comfortable chair, with a fridge filled with food and no dust covering my whole being. The sweat ceased to drip and the never-ending noise of honking tap-taps, dogs and people chanting or yelling in Creole is nothing but a slowly fading memory… How real one's words can be in those circumstances are questionable, but I will try to be as truthful in my accounts as possible.

I left for the Dominican Republic with a small backpack, – since I’ve become a journalist by far the smallest bag I carry, – a medium sized pelican case, a video bag and a ridiculously large tripod. Way over packed, especially considering the journey I was about to embark on. I had heard about a weekly market that happen in a border town called Elias Piña, and although it wasn’t a common crossing point between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, it seemed to still be possible to get to Port-au-Prince via the Elias Piña-Belladere border towns. Sometimes it helps to be young and play naïv, other times it helps to be a woman and to have a well rehearsed act… but it the Dominican Republic all you need to get a favor is to be a woman and smile. The last thing I wanted, after having white and foreigner already written all over my face, was to have to haul my ridiculous amount of packs and gear from the DR to Haiti, especially traveling through roads less taken. That’s when my womanly smile came in handy… and 80% of my gear and bags were safely stored in Santo Domingo’s Intercontinental for over a week for the price of a quite lovely breakfast and some amazingly fast free wireless internet. If I couldn’t afford the luxury of the Intercontinental for even one night, at least my bags and superfluous gear enjoyed some relaxing vacations, while I went to Haiti.