Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What do you mean "no problem"?

After having lived in Haiti for more than 6 months, the things that really surprise me are not the insanity and chaos - the random killings, the shootouts, the drivers that make drunken 12 year olds look like Mario Andretti - it's the small moments when the funk of ineptitude is momentarily swept aside to show a glimmer of competence. For instance, I had a check I needed cashing. I had a terrible premonition that it would be a long and tiresome endeavor filled with indignation, incredulity and foul language uttered at ear splitting volume. It went so far as to invade my dreams. I had sleeping visions of the bank informing me that I would have to travel to some far off branch, across the country, give a blood and a DNA sample, my first born and my left leg in order for me to wait 6 months for some semblance of action. I woke up just as I was yelling at the tellers, "How is it possible that I could email the Goddamn moon but the bank couldn't coordinate between branches!"
Later that morning I walked into the bank fearing the worst, but to my utter amazement, it went smooth as silk. Smoother, even, than it would have gone in Vancouver. I left with a pocket full of money, knife in hand (people have been robbed 30 feet from the bank after making a withdrawl - the robbers asking for the exact amount that had just been withdrawn) and a feeling of stunned disbelief (mixed with wariness, of course). Even though it went well, I still had to make it home.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

back to the grind

This country never stops. I've been back not even a week from my much needed vacation in rainy Vancouver and already we've had the deaths of two Jordanian UN soldiers at the hands of heavily armed gangs, dozens of dead civilians from the fighting between said armed thugs and the UN, memorial services for the deceased, high level UN meetings with diplomats from all over the world, visits to the hostile areas of the city of Port au Prince by top UN honchos, medal cermonies for UN soldiers, and general pre election brouhaha.
Today is my first day of rest and I plan on doing nothing whatsoever. I don't even want to go grocery shopping because even that is a massive chore - what with all the poor, begger street kids who swarm the car yelling, "Moy grand gou! Bams moy dollars!" I'm hungry! Give me money! I know it's sad and I help as much as possible - handing out Gourds (Haitian money) like it grows on trees - but it's exhausting. There's only so much I can do and the kids - and adults - never seem to realize that I'm just a poor, working slob and not an aid agency or a bank.
Still, it's hard to say no when they ask; they're so small for their age, underfed and undernourished.
My question is: Where are the aid agencies? I see their cars whipping around town, but I never see them stop to help out those who need it.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

me at work

What started out as a slow day, suddenly became quite exciting. So exciting in fact that in the end my camera had short circuited from an overzealous firefighter.

First Post

There's really no way to explain what is actually going on in Haiti. It's all a matter of perception. I have found, to my great consternation, that people from all sectors will argue with me about "what really happened." It's most annoying when I was in the middle of it and they weren't.
So, I'll make this promise now: I will tell you the truth from my point of view - on the ground, usually in the middle of the shit, up close and personal.