Posted by: posthaiti | January 27, 2009

Getting There

i recently talked to my brothers and gave them my blog address. both of them were like, ‘it’s great, we love the pics, but we haven’t read all of it yet.’ i knew i should have focused on multimedia at Columbia! noone appreciates the written word anymore! henceforyh, i’ve decided to (try to) post in more bite-sized chunks.

i miss Haiti, actually, and the more i embody — create, rather — the place in my mind after the fact, the more i want to go back. i don’t, however, miss the transportation logisitics. moving around the country was a rude awakening. for one, public transportation consisted of tap taps and busses (similar to tap taps, but bigger, the busses had people hanging off the tops, totally encouraging the possibility of tipping over on the side of the road somewhere) — open bed trucks that no less than 15 people piled onto, in hopes of getting from point A to point B. the closest i’ve come to that is riding in my dad’s beater truck, either crammed four in the front seat or sneaking out on the open bed if it was a short trip.

anyway, today let’s talk planes, trains, and automobiles, since i have so many serious thoughts about other things Haitian but really want to ease you in, dear readers.

my flight from LGA to PAP was almost cancelled. i was actually pretty nervous the night before; i packed until 3 am or so, and then woke up at about 5:30 with only three hours sleep, a trembling slug in my bed: should i go? should i really go? i had endured so much garbage/misinformation from my friends: ‘OMG, it’s going to be so dangerous;’ or, ‘OMG, you’re going to get kidnapped;’ or, ‘OMG, don’t go, Jeanene, it’s really not a good idea, have you read the embassy news reports;’ that i had really started to doubt myself, my draw. not just to this particular experience but to Haiti and to everything that Haiti means. i wanted to see for myself, to go there, as my journalism profs so liked to call it. so i went. well, i had decided to go, and had bought all the things that HODR said i needed. but the night before, i was nervous; when my mom and brothers called, i got choked up. ‘listen, i have to go, i can’t talk,’ i whispered.

the night came and went. when my alarm went off, i got up, showered, packed the last of my things, and caught my cab to LGA. predictably, LGA was a nightmare on December 22nd. at 6 am there were already hundreds of people lined up to check bags and get boarding passes, and by the time i got to my gate, i was barely on time. no worries, because damn it, our flight to MIA was delayed by several hours! i looked at my watch, calculated the time i would have to connect and was like, only with fingers crossed will i make it to the gate in MIA in time to board the flight to PAP. i sat there, feeling this wave of relief — and slight regret — pass over me. whew, one part of me thought, i don’t have to go, i have an excuse not to make this happen. but another, much stronger part of me felt, Jeanene, come on. you’ve been in this state of mind before, not wanting SO BADLY to do something that you KNOW you need to do. don’t let short-term desire disguise as need. just do it.

so, need outweighed want and i boarded the flight to MIA, assuming that i would probably miss my connection to PAP. turns out, i didn’t. with five minutes to spare (little did i know that on Haitian time, which i just entered, we would have 45 minutes to spare before the flight actually left), i walked onto the connecting flight, slightly nauseous with apprehension. once it took off, and i gave my pen to the old Haitian man sitting next to me to fill out his customs card, i knew there was no turning back.

by the time we landed less than two hours later, i was calming down. when i saw the ground, the houses — not as bad as i thought, similar to the rural homes outside of San Jose, Costa Rica, and in the hills surrounding Guatemala City — i was back to normal. on it. mostly, i took a doubletake on my apprehension and suddenly realized — again — that life is life, here, there, wherever. people everywhere live, in houses. dirt below, sky above. just like us.


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