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Communiqué #081


to the PEOPLE of HAITI

June 12, 2010

Ahhhhh!   My return to Haiti! (My first time to see Port-au-Prince, since the earthquake.  My first time to come to Haiti to an unknown living arrangement.)

I had wondered what my first impressions of Port-au-Prince would be!  The very first thing that struck me was what I saw when the plane was coming in for a landing.  Prior to the earthquake, a spectrum of greys and whites were the predominant colors of the landscape, where homes lay scattered helter-skelter on the earth below.   This time, however, there were numerous specks of bright royal blue colors peppered amidst the normal hues of grey and white – an indication of the multitude of tarps being used as roofs for homes, as protection from rain for those sleeping in tents, and simply, as a house, for many others.

The traffic in Port-au-Prince was hectic, so our ability to stop and gaze at the ruins was limited.  For most of the ruins, I had to be told what building it was originally before I could recognize what the rubble used to be.  At other times, the site of structure was familiar but the view brought acid-like pains to my stomach, as I witnessed what it had become.  Still at other times, the tears that stung my eyes was a result of a combination of dry dust and smoke making them so and the sadness of what I was seeing and feeling.  Often, it was hard to distinguish the pre-earthquake rubble from the post-earthquake rubble.  Yet, at even other times, it was more-than-obvious that the damage was from the earthquake.

I took photos, but soon realized that photo-after-photo was that of tent cities.  Certainly, the one  just photographed was the last one that we would see.  How wrong I was!  Out of our car windows, tent city after tent city after tent city whizzed by.  The tent cities came in all colors and fabrics.  Tents of brown, tents of green, tents of white, tents of gray, tents of blue and “tents” of a hodgepodge of fabrics and scraps of wood and plastic and metal.  Row-upon-row of Port-a-Potties was another weird-sort of surprise – a kind of blessing in disguise.  Never have there been so many public places for people to answer the call of Mother Nature!

We arrived at our guesthouse in LesCayes in late afternoon on Friday.  We had arrived before the cleaning lady had a chance to prepare our room.  Opening the door, revealed bird droppings and bugs and the pungent odor of the chicken coop located just outside our door.  My “bug alert radar” continued to go off as commonplace geckos and chameleons also made on appearance.  Soon the ants would discover the last of my cherished peanut M&Ms. Ugh!  Before I plopped on top of the bed for a desperately needed nap, I wearily explained to Léon that I was not so sure that my allergies would tolerate the aroma of chicken poop!  In spite of it all, I slept and slept and slept.  I was so much more than exhausted than I realized.  The cleaning lady arrived while I was still in a stupor. When I awoke the room was much more appealing, although the odor from the chicken coop was no more delightful.  After eating a light meal of rice and beans, I again collapsed into bed to sleep the night away.  Things did seem a little better after I woke on Saturday morning, when I was feeling a little more human.  After a breakfast of boiled egg and bread with cheese, I found my exhausted body craving yet another nap.  While Léon headed out to get our motorcycle running, I collapsed into another “coma-like” state.   I remember only vaguely the sound of the croaking of a frog.  I remember thinking, “I’ll find that thing and scoot it out the door once I wake up.”  When I actually did wake up, I totally forgot about my quest for the frog.  It was not until Léon called me on the phone and asked me why I had not answered the two prior times when he had called, that I had myself a good laugh!  I had totally forgotten that, prior to leaving Haiti, I had purchased a new cell phone and had programmed the ringtone to “croaking frog!”  Whew!  One less critter to chase out of my room!

Needed rest brings with it a much better outlook on life!  Guess Iwill just have to take myself another nap or two! Tomorrow is a fresh new day! (For an odor-free night – I will be praying for northerly winds!)

Nora Léon

Missionary to Haiti & the Dominican Republic                  Until next time. God willing …………

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