Port au Prince, Haiti, March 8-15, 2011

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I’ve returned to provide training in somatic and creative arts approaches to my beloved friends/colleagues at Haiti’s Psycho Trauma Center. We have talked about, and dreamed about, this for years. Finally, some funds raised through my non-profit enable us doing this.

Post-earthquake Haiti hasn’t changed much—still. Yes, there’s a little more rubble removed and evidence of new construction here and there. But really, not much change. Not as much as one would hope for—and would surely find elsewhere (i.e if the same were to occur in Hollywood or Dallas or Fairfield Country CT). Even I realized after 3 days that I was no longer seeing the rubble. Shortly after the earthquake that’s all I saw. Now, it seemed to take a much more conscious effort to really see the piles of rubble that still remain (and many do) and to realize how far Haiti has to go.

Why is it so easy to forget Haiti?

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N’Djamena, Chad, February 2011

CHAD The airport in Chad is trees. Much of the rest of the country is desert—but landing and leaving, there are trees. A few minute after landing, and getting off the bus that transports us from the plane to the airport, one smells jasmine—on of the most divine smells there is. One jasmine tree graces the door that is both entrance to and departure from the airport. The only way to describe my first, sensory and visceral impressions of Chad is: Heat. Weight. Breeze. Feels like Chad. I had no idea what to expect, and, like many people who I talk to, knew very little about Chad. There’s a lot of surprise. I expected a hot dry place. It was hot, and hotter each day (98 F when we arrived; 110F a week later).It’s dry, but the hotel room was humid.If the door to the balcony remains open for more …

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Port au Prince Day 6, January 2011

Just as I was beginning to write a final blog for this visit, a friend called who I hadn’t seen since the earthquake, and asked me to meet. So I hastily prepared to go out. As he was pulling in the drive way the news broke that “Baby Doc” had just returned to Haiti. This was no rumor—my friends and I got it directly from the Haitian National Police—and within moments, the city seemed to urge with energy, excitement, fear, uncertainty, speculation and “surreality”. I don’t now what this means. No-one does, right now. His press conference was supposedly taking place as we taxied down the runway. I’m sure I’ll hear something later. My gut? Preval, who openly rejected the OAS and international Community decision that the elections were fraudulent and that he must step down and abide by the Constitution, is giving the finger to the International Community. The …

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Port au Prince January 12, 2011

This morning was characteristically fresh in Port au Prince. December and January are crisp, cool months, and there tends to be an energy of hope in this Caribbean nation after the holidays. I awoke to the sound of singing, chanting prayer. Already at 6:45 am, the air was music. It is hard to delineate the mood here. Since my arrival yesterday, I have tapped into somber, sad, joyful, hopeful, tragic, ecstatic, and more.As I drove through Port au Prince, en route to a commemoration ceremony with my dear friends from The Psycho Trauma Program, I see some people working, as if its any other day. I see others singing and wringing their hands, skyward. I see people praying. I see others just sitting. The ceremony is lovely. We light 3 candles:For those we lost, for Haiti, and for hope—for the “biggest” future possibilities we can imagine. We let a hundred …

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Palestine Day 6

I was told that it would be easy to get through the check point to return to Jerusalem, for a day of touring, and then Tel Aviv, to fly home. It wasn’t. My amazing taxi driver, Ez, arrived promptly at 9 am on Friday to get me. He said we’d be back in Jerusalem in 15 minutes. When we arrived at the checkpoint, a young, wiry, agitated looking soldier with very dark circles under his eyes aggressively demanded Ez’s documentation, and after clearing him, came for my passport. After I handed it to him he began to yell and wave both his gun and my passport around, and threw it back at me. He then told Ez something in Hebrew that clearly upset him. He sent us to another check point, and Ez kept saying “He’s crazy. This is not right. This is the right checkpoint for foreigners…this is where …

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Bethlehem Day 5

Its very difficult to write the reality here. Last evening, after class, I was invited by some of the participants, all Muslem, to visit the Nativity Church and the manger. Because I was with them, I got access to areas of the Church I did not see on Friday–and they graciously shared their understanding of the significance and power of Jesus life, and the holiness and historic magnificence of this place. As one enters the Church, there is a large sign stating that the roof repairs, taking place now, are being funded by the President of Palestine. Apparently, personally. As we stood in a small cave under the current Church, I blurted out–without thinking–“Jesus was a Palestinian”. My friends laughed, and say “You didn’t know he was born in Bethlehem?”. I replied that I did–but never had anyone in all my readings, studying, conversations about Jesus’ life—ever acknowledged that Jesus …

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Palestine, Day 3

I arrived in Tel Aviv after a long-way-around journey from Khartoum, via Frankfurt, on Saturday afternoon. I had to travel on 2 tickets, and 2 passports, due to the non-relationship diplomacy between Sudan and Israel. When I arrived, the wild sand and dust storm that has blanketed areas in Palestine and Lebanon and Syria with snow, created dust and sand “fog” so thick I could only see a few feet ahead of me. I tried to walk around Bethlehem, where I am teaching–but the wind was a shrieking cold cyclone that made anything other than staying safe and warm inside impossible. I did manage to get a taxi to Manger square, and visited The Church of the Nativity and the manger. Who knows if this is really the precise place where Jesus was born–but it feels, deeply, like a holy place. This is a distressing time to be in Palestine. …

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Departing Khartoum

The week flew by here, and I am already checked in and preparing to depart this ancient city. There is a magic here–in the light, the dust, the fluid movement of sand and robes and breezes–that is seldom talked about where I come from. There isn’t a whole lot to do here, if one expects the kind of busy-ness we are accustomed to in many parts of the west. But I never tired of watching the sun rise and set here, because the colors that day fades in and out of are not colors I see elsewhere–they are softer, more muted, more gentle. Today a friend, Sue, who worked with my husband 20 years ago in Uganda, took my colleague and I to the old souks–we visited the bead markets and the place where many old baskets and carvings are available under piles of more touristy-oriented knick knacks. Some of …

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Sudan Day 3 & 4

I am in Khartoum, Sudan now. This was a really long and not an easy trip. Too many long layovers—which must, I’ve decided,make a significant contribution to jet lag, as I normally don’t get jet lagged, and its been a tough adjustment. It might also be this land— Sudan feels, to me, like stepping into the arms of the ancient mother. I was here three years ago, in Khartoum and Darfur, and I was especially captivated by the sand in Darfur (which is here, also, but less visible due to development). The sand is the color of dawn and runs like silk through my hands. In these ancient places, it almost seems as if the sand has absorbed the memories of many millions of years of sunrises and sunsets, of stars in the sky, of footsteps and camel-steps and the advance and receding of older oceans. I have asked a …

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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 …

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