Monday, August 2, 2010

dream city

Sometimes it feels like a dream when traversing what they call streets in Port Au Prince.
Logic does not apply in this city.

I went today to the Duon aka Customs to find the Expediated Customs office. I found it. It was just as the NGO dude had described to me at the posh $116 a night hotel restaurant. It was a sparse air conditioned room. There were 6 desks. There were 5 men and 1 woman. They had nothing on their desks for the most part. One guy had a blackberry and a cell phone. One dude had a laptop and was listening raptly to pimsluer english lessons. I approached the only woman in the room's desk and put my motorcycle helmet down on her desk.

Communicating through a translator is extremely tedious. I say what I want to say while looking straight into the person's eyes. They speak back to the translator. They talk on and on. The translation is eon's shorter than the lengthy speeches they seem to be giving.

I ask questions. Like "what is your job?" I dont know if they get asked these questions.
Admittedly, I am a wee bit of a control freak. It doesn't work in translation.

I managed to find out that this office was indeed brand new as of last week and it was in fact set up to assist humanitarian goods entering the country more expediently. They, however, told me that in order to use their services, I would have to go to another location to register my NGO or as they call it here, OGN, I asked if they had an information sheet or pamphlet. The man smiled. No.

Julian and I walked over to the other location. He told me that this was the most dangerous part of Port Au Prince. It didn't look too dangerous to me, just a fucked up looking park with razor wire spiraling around it. Some dudes were walking around with bags of bags of water on their heads saying "Dlo" over and over and some other folks selling bananas and a group of cops chilling in the shade of a large tree. There was a statue laying on its side with its pedestal broken next to it. That's what happens when you put shit up on pedestals, I thought, they fall off eventually.

We walked into the other office building. A bunch of dudes were sitting around in a sort of anti chamber/entrance room with fans blowing on them. When we asked if the office we needed to go to was there, they said yes but we couldnt go in. When Julian asked them why not, the dude looked at me and apparently stated I was not dressed properly. I was wearing cut off jean shorts, a t shirt and my cowboy boots. I was driving a motor cycle for gods sake. It's hot as hell outside. What am I supposed to be wearing? A tutu? When Julian told me, I said "are you crazy?" which apparently does not mean the same thing in Haiti. You dont call people crazy in a light hearted way in Haiti. So many have been driven insane by the earthquake and it's a very touchy subject. I knew that but forgot for a moment in my incredulity. The man asked, Did she just say we are crazy? I got it right away and said, No, I said "are you kidding me?" either way the dude was not having my cut off jean shorts boots wearing personage traipsing around in their pristine rubble strewn courtyard.

Julian entered without me. He came out empty handed saying the guy said he'd email me the forms. Right then I got a call from BZ back at the base that Mr. DB (my affectionate name for the customs broker) had called and was coming by to pick up the copies of our paperwork to bring to customs. So we jumped on the bike and rode back through the dream city back to Rue Pelican and Grassroots United Base.

After lunch, Mike from MMRC and I took a drive up to Peitionville to pick up a replacement camera. I cant not document my project. So I had to get another one. It took a while going there and back. The ride was beautiful we kept going up and up and the air got cooler and there were alot of trees. Its the rich part of town as is true probably mostly anywhere in the world. The rich like to live up on the hilltops. I bought the cheapest canon I could find and we drove back down the hill.

At the base later, BZ, Scruff muffin, Delphine and Sam were cooking up a storm in the kitchen while Joanne the cook giddily watched. They had taken over the kitchen for the day to cook us a thai food dinner. The energy around the base was festive for no reason in particular and Aaron had a charcoal fire going in the back in a pit and in between chasing the rooster with a half burned log he was cooking chicken over open flames.

It was the best dinner I've had since being here. The sunset was gorgeous. I just figured out that I can get internet in my tent of all places so I am ensconced in my tent writing this blog and sweating my butt off waiting for the rain. I hope it comes soon. Oh, and the domes. That would be amazing if I could get my domes tomorrow.

I am hoping to go in the morning to visit an orphanage that is not on anyone's list. You have to hike up a goat trail to get to it. Mike said he would show it to me. There will be photos tomorrow.

I am changing my ticket which was supposed to fly back to JFK on wed. I aint coming back until I finish what I came here to do. I am not sure how long it will take. Everything takes so much longer here.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Di,

    In Jamiaca they say "Soon Come, Mon, Soon Come", and then you just need to go with the flow. You will get there, I know.

    Any connection with Bishop Tom yet?

    Love and ReThink Afghanistan,

    U Sam

  2. Yes Uncle Sam, it's a very similar mentality, only the dude keeps telling me he is the fastest at what he does, which doesnt really seem like much, honestly.
    It helps to know that you are rooting for me.
    I havent met Bishop Tom yet, not sure if he is in country or not yet. Mary said she might be able to connect me with some friends that have an air conditioned room for a night, that would be awesome. Although I am laying in my tent right now with a RYOB fan right now and it's most excellent!
    I haven't been thinking much about afganistan, so there is not much to rethink though. My mind is full from thinking on Haiti
    love you!