Posted by: posthaiti | July 24, 2010

back from haiti…

well, sort of. at the moment, i’m not 100 percent sure where i am: leogane, haiti; brooklyn, NYC; or san francisco. we can add santa clara, CA, to that list, since i’m there more than i am in SF, considering my massive commute from hell to the new job. (yes, i took a new job! i am, once again, a working woman.)

where to begin? first, an apology. hopefully, noone was waiting with bated breath to catch a glimpse of photos of post-quake leogane. i took a lot, and yes, should have posted sooner. the good news is that the town is improving, in terms of physical rubble in the streets and tents piled on top of each other outside homes that still stand. the bad news is that multiple tent cities pretty much cover the town — there’s one in the center; one near ‘mon petit village,’ which yoleine helped set up by donating her land; there are many lining the “suburbs” that surround the town — and that yoleine’s house, along with most of the buildings on her street, have been totally razed. gone. disappeared.

second, to let you know that pics are coming. long story short: in the two weeks i had to pack up my life of five years in NYC and put it into storage before flying out to SF to take a contract gig for a genomics outfit (which i may or may not tell y’all about later), i had some stressful moments. which, obviously, required red wine. unfortunately, love turned to hate in this affair when i tipsily tipped a full glass over onto the keyboard of my macbook, thoroughly frying the logic board = buh-bye mac. thank jesus my hard drive was intact and is now safely enclosed in an external drive. however, in order to read said drive, the thing must be plugged into a working mac. yours truly, in the process of storing, shipping, and downpaymenting for a new apartment in SF, has maxed out her credit, leaving her presently unable to afford to charge another macbook or macbook pro, the starting price for which is 1G.

sigh. it’s complicated.

anyway, one of the first things i did when i got to leogane was check out rue st. catherine, where i stayed in yoleine’s house during the last week of december and the first week of january this year, working for her small nonprofit called neges foundation. it was lunchtime, during which we got a two-hour break from digging rubble under the 110-degree sun (‘blaring’ or ‘searing’ come to mind), on a thursday or something during my first week. i was hot and tired and feeling nauseous, but i really needed to take the tour. a few steps down the road from HODR’s base i ran into a haitian man with a gold tooth, who would later turn out to be reginal, former “security detail” for president preval (i think; maybe it was a different president. reginal was my age or younger, so i’m *sure* it couldn’t have been aristide?) and soon-to-be HODR volunteer. “where are you going?” he asked in french. “for a walk.” “alone?” “uh, yeah.” he decided that he should come with me, and i’m glad he did, if only because when i was in leogane in january, i didn’t walk around that much on my own to know where i was. when i recognized rue st. catherine and saw the intersection with rue la croix, i knew we had arrived.

as i walked up the street, i noticed the holes — where homes used to be. there was a blue and yellow building, i remembered, that faced yoleine’s house on the opposite side of the street. it used to be the town’s electricity company’s building and yoleine purchased it years ago and installed a now-defunct coffeeshop below. in january, mackendy, my unofficial “tour guide,” nephew of yoleine, and all-around (faux) bling-wearing “badass,” showed me his bedroom on the second floor as well as the rooms next to his door, which served as a school.

i looked up at the blue and yellow building, and then behind me. i did this a few times, and reginal just stared at me, oddly amused, i’m sure. the blue and yellow building was only slightly damaged, but there was evidence of a crack severe enough to have shaken its structure loose; it was leaning to one side toward the top, certainly no longer safe to live in. it looked like the damage had occurred near mackendy’s bedroom.

i turned back, now sure of where yoleine’s house should have stood. there was nothing but a huge hole in the ground where the two-story wonder used to be. all that stone and cement, the wrought ironwork that encased the entire front porch — that place was such a quiet haven, guarded from the busy street — all of it was gone. i guessed that yoleine, instead of clearing the foundation slab, had her “people” (or maybe just CHF workers, who were being paid $5 a day to do the same work that HODR volunteers were doing) raze it. in any case, there was nothing left, and i was astounded. it wasn’t until that moment that the severity of the earthquake hit me.

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