(Haitian billboard juxtaposed above refugee tents)
My colleague and I, Georgianne Nienaber, accompanied by our "Fixer", Andre, just spent four days investigating conditions in Haiti in whirlwind fashion, driving east and west from Port-au-Prince, when not in Port-au-Prince itself investigating matters and conducting interviews.
As soon as we landed on Monday morning, May 10th, and had fought our way out of hectic and crowded Toussaint Louverture International Airport, we started heading for Highway One and the mountains to the east. At the foot of one mountain, Goat Mountain (in English) to be exact, we would find two adjoining camps, Camp Canaan, a self-created refugee camp with little government or NGO support, and Camp Corail, an NGO-created camp. But first we had to take a good jaunt through the countryside near the coast in our Dodge Raider, which is built to handle the very bumpy, dusty ride which ensued.
One can get a good sense of life in Haiti just by seeing the sights along Highway One, as one passes by Haitians of various type and persuasion standing in front of roadside open markets or trudging down the oft-times muddy road edges, often carrying or wheel-barreling produce or materials. We rambled by businesses, a military bivouac, smaller refugee camps identifiable by the iconic blue tarp tent constructions signifying temporary (or not so temporary) shelters, as well as past collapsed or semi-collapsed buildings and landmarks, grim reminders of the horrific January 12th earthquake, all set against the backdrop of lush, verdant tropical growth rising pronounceably as the rainy season increases.
Welcome to Highway One, Haiti:
A billboard near the airport touts Tampico Soda above a blue tarp refugee camp where they are lucky to have decent drinking water:
Passing a Red-Cross truck, not sure from which country.
We're following traffic coming onto Highway One. Note the rock debris in the street. Rocks, gravel and boulders often spill over into the streets.
Passing make-shift businesses and houses still on the way to Highway One:
We're beginning to fly down Highway One now. Note the mountains in the distance. Haiti is a mountainous country:
Passing a military base on the way, maybe American, or French:
Passing some kind of tractor-trailer yard:
Racing along Highway One:
A boy watching two others, one of whom is pushing a wheel barrel, a key conveyance device in Haiti:
Passing a tap-tap that is letting people off and on. Tap-taps (camionettes) are Haiti's colorful shared taxis that are privately owned but publicly operated:
A man riding a donkey with saddle bags:
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