As to who and why, I will get to that later. As to where, I am flying into Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The first thing I notice as I disembark the plane is the stifling, arid heat. The second is all the cool planes that you don’t typically see. This belongs to the Brazilian air force:
And this, the Chileans, who have a sizable relief presence here in Haiti.
I’ve never stepped foot in Haiti before. I consider myself fairly educated, and I was still ignorant enough to think up until a couple weeks ago that this country lied somewhere in the Pacific. We’re but an hour’s flight from Miami but it feels like a different planet entirely. The sights and smells are reminiscent to me of rural Latin America or deserted Thailand, cinderblock homesteads and barefoot children, deforested wastelands wafting with the interesting scents of dust, food oils, and sewage. The people are largely homogeneous, as we sat in traffic on the way into the city, the looks I got alternated between curiosity, confusion, and at times, hostility.
Let’s talk about that traffic. With hardly a properly paved road through Port-au-Prince’s serpentine channels, let alone a traffic stoplight or STOP sign, it took literally hours to drive 10 miles. It’s part of the Haiti experience, I guess, and it gives you an immersive look into what these people endure in the wake of natural disaster, tragedy, and economic woes.
I’ll be back later on with a deeper dig as to why I am here this week. But for now, I want you to take a seat, stare out the window, and ….welcome to Haiti.