Port au Prince, Haiti Day 12, Trip 6

Last day in Haiti, and the final trip of this piece of work (developing staff support) that began very soon after the earthquake.

Yesterday was “meant” to be a quiet last day spent with friends, in closure, taking care of things that needed tending to.

Instead, chaos. Traffic–which feels terminally congested beyond any normal measure of congestion, since the onslaught of International Aid, was incomprehensibly immobilized. ANPIL ANPIL BLOKIS. Everything took 1-2 hours more than usual. And I had three stops, throughout the day, to close this work.

When a friend promising transportation didn’t come through, when those who came through with rides were caught in the nightmarish “BLOKIS”, I was late for everything. And then, at the end of the day, my only way home was a ride in an insufficiently “up kept” car, with no defrost, barely functioning windshield wipers, driven by a lovely many who did not know the area I needed to get to at all.

A torrential downpour, horizontal and vertical lightning, immense thunder booms resulted in flooded roads. Flooded roads that were swarming with vehicles trying to get home at the end of the day. We sat, for 30 minutes at a time, to budge a few feet.

The driver, unfamiliar with an automatic (especially an old, worn out automatic) vehicle, could barely see due to a fogged up and unyieldingly wet windshield, glare, and his increasingly “tet chaje” (literally, charged head). After the first hour, the car broke down, and as just as they were a collective relief when traffic began to move, we were blocking the road.

What transpired after (for three hours after) was sometimes stressful, sometimes amusing, sometimes fascinating, and sometimes very uncomfortable. People yelled, honked, screamed. Driver of large vehicles sat on their horns–some barely missed us if they were moving and didn’t see us to to the downpour, the lightning, the dark I called friends, at times calm, at times on the verge of tears, at times angry. All I wanted to do was be home with my dear friends and family here, and watch the sky turn evening colors from the same porch that has given me solace for many years—especially since January 12th. Its the place where I sat every evening when I first came here, and stayed on this safe and comfortable home, alone. Its where the 350+ stories and 25+ group histories moved through me as tears, rage, incomprehension, weariness, inspiration, hope, human connection.

We finally made it after multiple arguments (within and outside of our car) and I am still waiting to hear that the driver and a friend made it back down o.k.I arrived very late. Dinner was ready. A cold prestige. Conversation. Tears. And my finally realizing that, despite my almost agreeing to remain a week longer and coming a phone call close to changing my ticket, its time to come home. Yes, Haiti is home, and–I have been here more than my home in Santa Fe since January, and I am as tired as I am inspired by this place I cherish. I am also forever changed.

Kunyala, m bezwen tann pou refleji. Now its time to reflect, write, rest.
I will be back, sooner than later, as projects and contracts keep emerging. My heart has grown 100 times in its capacity to listen and to love every time it breaks here—and it is still breaking, and still growing. When I packed late last night, I found all my notes, from the first “PFA” session, til now. All the sessions (group and individual), all the workshops and trainings, all the meetings, all the reports and recommendations and journaling. Two legal pads full of words, names, people’s emotions, needs, and contact information, ideas, concerns, things I want to remember, symbols I doodle.
I reverently reviewed each page, then burned them. Ale. Like the Spirits we aid to fly when they cross over, I pray for each story, each tear, each breath that breathed in dust, death, decay while waiting to be rescued or trying to rescue others, to fly. I cannot carry them home.
Ayiti Cheri, map la chak jou. Kembe. Map torne anko, demen, si bondye vle.
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