Posted by: posthaiti | January 18, 2009

Post-Haiti

i’ve had several illnesses since returning from Haiti, which is to say, i’ve got the US flu. there, with the sunsets and sunrises, the high temps and the long, sweaty days, i’m not sure my body could have even harbored any germs. dusty Gonaives:  where i recently spent two (dare i say, glorious?) weeks digging out mud-flooded homes with shovels, wheelbarrows, a crazy Mad Max team of men and women alongside me, and a lot of residual Prestige to power my usually quite foodless body.

i had so many ideas and impressions that i thought, maybe now is a good time to start a blog? a place to put my thoughts and pictures about this experience? i’m a writer, and i’ve had blogs before; however, like journals, they tend to be neglected and discarded after a while. i’m also rather private, so the experiment of revealing my life to a world of strangers always failed.

now, though, it feels more important. this experience seems to have been a turning point, or at least will serve as a fulcrum upon which my life will turn, here or there, in the near future. my reasoning to go to Haiti was multi-fold, but i chose Hands On Disaster Response because one, their disaster volunteer relief program based in Gonaives, Haiti, was free and seemed like a very cheap “alterna-trip;” two, i’ve always wanted to go to Haiti and figured i would never have been able to go without being in escort (at least what i thought before i went down); and three, i found them online and immediately thought they were cool/trusted them. so, i went. and i’m back. and i’m still sort of reeling.

i used to go hiking a lot before i moved to NYC, where i’ve been living for three-and-a-half years. when you walk on less traveled routes or into remote areas in the back country, the trail always seems to end at one point or another. maybe i took a wrong turn, you ask yourself? maybe the trail isn’t ending, and it’ll pick up somewhere else, a few feet to the east or west, maybe a few hundred feet north? typically, it does pick up again, or you find another trail, locally situated to the one that “ended.” in any case, you have to really look around for the start of the new trail. that’s how i feel right now in my life; my trail has ended, and while it’s been well worn and well trampled, as it were, it’s over. and i’m looking around for a new trail, or the fork in the trail, or for the trail to pick up again somewhere else. somehow, i think i found a new trail in Haiti.

i hope this blog will help me to move down that new trail by writing about my impressions and interpretations — of the experience, the people, the day-to-day life, and the culture. i learned a lot in two weeks, and saw enough that could start a blog…but maybe not end it. we’ll see where it goes.

a visual: my first day, and a few others’, en route to our first mud site. i’m not sure if i looked exhausted, scared shitless, or excited.

haiti82

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