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01/19/2010

Life in Haiti



So it's
day three in country... since traveling across the border, so many things have
happened.

Crossing the border in the early morning was chaos. Spanish, Creole
English...everyone yelling out different commands in the midst of slow moving
trucks. It was a choreographed dance with giant diesel engines but no one was
conducting the steel belted performance. All the trucks trying to squeeze
into a tiny gate guarded by machine guns.

The roads on the other side of the border were riddled with pot holes and
rocks...making an hours drive into a half day event with cars slowing down
every 20 yards to avoid tire damage. In contrast to the ugly roads, the
mountains soared on the horizon giving us one last glimpse of Haitian
beauty.  

When we reached a suburb on the outskirts of the earthquakes epicenter, the
convoy stopped to pick out a translator. The van doors opened for the locals to
see the first of the rich, American journalists coming into this poor, now
destroyed, city. Hundreds of Haitian faces crowded our vans hoping to make $50
dollars, U.S.,
a day to for their knowledge of English & Creole. Just the mere stopping of
the cars almost incited a riot. We all were tired & needed to stretch our
legs...instead we were in a crush of people calling to us in broken English.
Then the interviews began...do you speak english? Do you know your way around?
Can you take us to the worst hit areas? I don't think we heard one person say
'no'. We picked an older man named Moyses.

As Moyses rode with us, he told stories of how his home had been crushed.
Terrible stories of what 35 seconds of Mother Nature's wrath can do to a
capital city in the richest hemisphere in the world. He kept muttering in
broken English, 'man this is nothing, nothing', and man he was right. 

The roads were jammed with trucks & cars, trucks & cars that couldn't
pass even the most basic safety inspection with bald tires and make shift
fenders. As we slowed to a crawl, out of the drivers' side window, we could see
the cause of the traffic jam. Two bodies, a mother & daughter who's
family couldn't afford the slightest medical help & now basic burial expenses.
Their bodies wrapped in sheets, left respectfully on mattresses in the middle
of the road probably with the hope someone would give them a decent place to
rest. Little did we know, this was only the beginning of our journey.

Michael Thorne

Eyewitness News photographer

 

 

 

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