January 4, 2013

Lost in Haiti… my first day in the city of Port-Au-Prince

I woke up at 4:00 AM, nervous and scared. I was scheduled to fly at 7:00 AM to Newark, and from there to Port-au-Prince, but apparently United Airlines was still on break, so the airplane for my trip to Newark never came. The United representatives rescheduled everyone to different airlines, and for some, different airports.  Way to go, United Airlines.

I was redirected to Miami, then Port-au-Prince.

I arrived in Port-au-Prince at 4:00 PM, tired and exhausted, but I saw a familiar face in the crowd. I had only met Yves François once, at Lafayette College, but we have been in constant communication, and he gladly agreed to host me, help me with my thesis, and give me an internship at his company, YCF Group, S. A.

People walking along a street in Port-Au-Prince, HaitiOn the way back to his house, I realized my camera’s memory card didn’t work, and badly enough, I realized I had forgotten my camera’s charger back in America. What a great way to start the new year!

We drove through one of the poorest areas in the city, where people live in slums, trash covered the uneven roads, and people filled the streets. From left and right, people were crossing the street, walking along selling goods in the street, women balancing baskets on their head, and people, there were people everywhere. It is as if someone has taken all the people in 42nd street in NYC and crammed them into a one-lane street, with no street lamps, no sidewalks.

It seemed that the more people within an area, the poorer the area got.

It seemed that I ventured back in time to a place that’s simpler, a place that has been lost in time, and a place that’s so human. People talked to each other on the street and there was the chaotic scene of an evening market place, with the sounds of chickens clucking, dogs barking, cars honking, people yelling, but most beautifully, a night sky filled with million of stars.Buildings next to a wall in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

Then we arrived at Yves’ house. His house is very modest, 2 stories, painted with teal color and white linings. It has a green mark on the wall, which stated that the house was deemed safe after the earthquake. In there, I met his mother, who speaks fluent English, and his father, who also speak very good English, and the helper and her daughters.

That night, after I put up the mosquito net, I went to sleep late: dreaming about the exciting adventures that await me in this humble country of Haiti.

and my adventures began …

posted in Binh Pham

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