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Impressions of a country in need

A walk through our neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. (Photo by Change Catalyst.)

A walk through our neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. (Photo by Change Catalyst.)

Saturday, February 2, 2012 — Every time I return to Haiti and drive through the streets here, the sights, smells and sounds shock me anew. Every time I take photos, videos and sound recordings to capture what it is like here, only to return home with pale imitations of the Haitian reality. Every time I am immersed in life here, I believe it is so real and so vivid and so dramatic that I will never forget. Yet months later when I return it’s as if I see it again for the first time.  And so it was again this trip.

Port-au-Prince is diesel fuel, dust, burning charcoal in your eyes, garbage everywhere, animals wandering through garbage, people, motors, cars weaving in and out, games of chicken around potholes and intersections, dust hanging in the air, people walking with loads on their heads, water, rolled up trash bags, fruit stands, people packed into tap taps, open sewers the size of small rivers, street vendors, honking, laughter, people, dirt soccer fields, rag tents, sugar cane in wheel barrows, people picking through trash, huts of tarps and sheet metal.  

And then out of the city….

Big dusty valley, very curvy roads, little girl in uniform walking down highway with blanket on her head, skinny steer walking along road, UN van in front of us, roadside stands of sticks and thatched roofs, naked children, rocks on road, scrubby trees, banana trees, dead grassy hills, more curves, women gathered and cooking under a shelter, a block house, stone house and concrete house, dust!

This morning I am sitting in the Port-au-Prince airport awaiting the American Airlines jet that will return me to San Francisco. Every time I have left here it has hurt. The re-adjustment to a different way of life has been shocking. I dread it this time. Each time I return I hope the transition will be easier.  But it never is.

The river below our quarters in Port-au-Prince. Many thanks to MASS Design (http://www.massdesigngroup.org/) for graciously hosting us! (Photo by Change Catalyst.)

The river below our quarters in Port-au-Prince. Many thanks to MASS Design (http://www.massdesigngroup.org/) for graciously hosting us! (Photo by Change Catalyst.)

Four days. Seven hospitals. Lessons learned. New deals kicked off. New friends made. Old friends seen again. The best kind of vacation.

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