Haiti – An epilogue

Posted by Ted on Mar 20, 2010 in Causes, Travel

During my 57 hour trip home from Jacmel, via U.N. transport, moto-taxis, three planes, BART, and my own two feet, with an overnight in Port-au-Prince and Los Angeles, my thoughts raced, processing the last two weeks.

Especially today, after two nights sleep in real beds, truly alone for the first time in two weeks, I found that I have come away with more questions than answers. Listening to “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley in the hostel near LAX, I wondered what will become of Haiti. There is still so much work to be done, and yet, there is also a sense that the emergency is over, and relief organizations will focus their time and money on the next disaster, leaving the country to fend for itself without the infrastructure to support it.

Already, Haiti seems far away and long ago. Two weeks is not enough time to become so accustomed to a place that home doesn’t feel like home. I flip through the photos on my camera, and they are at once familiar and strange. While stopped at the Daly City BART station, I looked out the window and saw houses in one piece, wondering where the rubble was. I thought about “the Big One” that will happen sometime, maybe even sooner than later what with all of the earthquakes in the first three months of the year – Haiti, Chile, Taiwan, and Cuba just today. Mother Earth is restless. When it’s our turn, will our buildings fare better? One hopes.

At West Oakland, I looked out to the port, the container loaders lined up, ready to transfer cargo to and from ships, a pit-stop on the road of commerce. There were thousands of containers, probably empty, stacked high and wide, and I wished that some of the wasted relief money could go towards sending them to Haiti, and converting them into housing that would survive the coming rainy and hurricane seasons. How much would it cost to buy, ship, distribute, and convert these useful castoffs of consumerism?

Before Fruitvale I looked at the passengers on the train as we passed the local Goodwill distribution center, wondering how long it would be until their tshirts, emblazoned with American pop culture, would end up discarded, donated, and shipped off to third world countries like Haiti, only to end up in the markets for meager profit.

As I walked home, I felt uneasy, noting that the streets were too clean, without moto-taxis and colorful tap-taps communicating with each other through their horns. Buildings were standing and there were no tents or rubble to navigate past. Now in the comfort of home, a weariness sets in as I wait for my love to come home, looking forward to being quiet, and holding each other, thankful for our privileged lives.

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An adventurer at heart, Ted Beatie is at his happiest when he’s off the beaten path. His deepest passion is sharing the world through photography and writing, found at The Pocket Explorer. He is also managing editor for Rolf Potts' Vagabonding, where he curates a Case Study series. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

1 Comment

Barbara Kimball
Apr 25, 2010 at 6:28 am

Thank you for your most interesting story. Having been to Haiti the month before you were there, I enjoyed reading your narration and viewing your pics. Our mission was medically directed but of the same nature and experiences. I too loved the people and having the opportunity to be able to do what we did. The return WAS as much of a culture shock as the landing in Haiti! Hard to believe you can endure the conditions that you were living in at the time but equally hard to return to our “normal” lifestyle afterward.
Thanks, again, for a time to go back and a reminder of how some of our fellow human beings are still surviving on a daily basis.

PS Got anymore pics?


 

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