Sunday, May 2, 2010


Driving through the streets of Haiti this afternoon, JoAnn and I had a great conversation about what is it we enjoy about this country. It is ungodly hot, the traffic horrid, there is no infrastructure or organization to anything (we do not believe the word “organize” exists in the Creole language!), the poverty and lack of medical care is appalling and yet there is an energy here that draws you in and you find you don’t want to let go or back away, but only embrace it. We decided it is the connectedness between the people that helps them to survive as a group. In the US we have such a focus on independence and individualism, but I think at times that separates us and maybe leaves us feeling a bit alone. Here in order to survive, you must function as a collective unit. One person on their own would never have the means to make it. I drive through Port au Prince at 5:00 pm after work on streets as crowded as those in New York City, but the people here interact with each other completely and with an energy you want to share. There are no masses walking quickly and anonymously, ignoring each other.
The traffic here is so bad with the drivers nearly hitting each other and the pedestrians every minute or so, but there is no “road rage” or anger ever seen. JoAnn asked why in the US where life is comparatively easy, do many people have such anger? We decided it was because people in the US often feel so isolated, alone and maybe afraid. The Haitians may be poor, but in terms of spirit they are so rich. When you come here that spirit is intoxicating and you want to join in and connect to that collective energy. It has been hard for each of the teams so far to leave Haiti and the “re-entry” to US life has been a struggle. I think leaving that feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself and drawing your energy from that on a daily basis is difficult.
On a lighter note, these were my favorite “only in Haiti” moments today. We passed a sign that advertised Plop Plop service. JoAnn’s best guess was a plumber? We passed an old woman with a T-shirt on that said “Sexy Diva.” I am guessing she had no idea what it said in English. At the hospital another grandma had one that said, “Too sexy, Too smart, Too much attitude.” Seeing that on a small woman with sagging breasts, stooped shoulders, knocked knees and grey hair was great! We saw a goat “mowing” the lawn in front of the Gold’s Gym building. Yes, they have a building that says “Gold’s Gym” on the top with paintings of muscled men and women on the sides. It appears to have been turned into a government building of some sort as it has a “No Parking” sign in front. Not that anyone pays attention. People here also carry everything on their heads. Baskets, water jugs, food and things you would expect. As well as toilets, cinder blocks and what appeared to be a 50# bag of charcoal by a 5’tall skinny little woman.
Nothing seems impossible for the people here. They do what they have to each day to get by. And they do it with smiles on their faces and a song on their lips. I will miss them.

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