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Photo-Essay: Haiti After the Earthquake, Part 10: Into the Mountains and Macassin

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* by Mac McKinney On Highway 2, with huge cracks in the road from the Jan 12 earthquake and heading west toward Le'ogà ne, the city nearest the epicenter. The small village of Fayette is closest to where the earthquake's epicenter actually manifested, which colleague Georgianne Nienaber visited back in March.

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Click here for Part 1 of this series.
Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3
Click here for Part 4
Click here for Part 5
Click here for Part 6
Click here for Part 7
Click Here for Part 8
Click here for Part 9

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Moving out from Camp Mon P'tit Village, where I left you at the end of Part 9, Andre, Georgianne and I were now back on Highway 2, heading west again, our ultimate goal now for Georgianne to return to the small village of Macassin in the southwest mountain ranges of Haiti as Highway 2 and its subsidiary highways wind up their slopes, one such road, Highway 204, running due south toward Jacmel from Le'ogà ne. Macassin is right off the road en route.

Georgianne wrote, back in March, of the devastation wrought and callousness endured at this small village:

"It has been totally bypassed by humanitarian aid except for 1200 blue tarps that shredded in the last windstorm. The surviving tents are leaking like sieves and the rains have not hit with full force yet. Macassin is only a small example of the scope of this disaster, which is truly biblical." (source)

So now we were on our way back to Macassin, a follow-up for her, the first time for me, and an opportunity, especially, to get beyond the coastal plains to experience the mountains of Haiti for the first time, as well as to see the extent of earthquake damage even here in the mountains:

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* by Mac McKinney Driving along Highway 2, sugarcane grass in the foreground, the Bay of Port-au-Prince and mountains across the bay far in the distance.


* by Mac McKinney Driving through a town along the way to Le'ogà ne

* by Mac McKinney Passing through Carr Dufort. Bicycles and motorbikes are prime means of transportation in Haiti.

* by Mac McKinney Now we are ascending Highway 204 and begin to see evidence of rock slides from the earthquake.

* by Mac McKinney Close to Macassin village now, we stopped so I could take some shots of the plains below, sprinkled with intermittent patches of forest and a blue-tarped refugee camp barely discernible near the center of the photo.


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A solitary tree disrupts the view of the plains below.

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Looking due north


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Looking farther south, with more of the Caribbean visible


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Looking straight down into what is a ravine


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Walking back to the other side of the road, now I am staring at the handiwork of man and Nature, both hewn rock from quarrying and boulders from rock-slides laying about. You can barely make out the crushed red cab of what looks like a dump truck likely caught in the earthquake or one of the aftershocks.


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Work on this quarry did not end with the earthquake. These workers have filled their dump truck up with what I am not sure, but needless to say they are going at it hard.


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School girls in uniform returning from school


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Once again we cross paths, this time right next to the road, with the nearly omnipresent blue tarp tents that signal a refugee or emergency camp, however small or close to one's original dwelling.


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We are at Macassin now. Meet Gille Naude, a village elder and the patriarch of this small camp.


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His grandchildren. They got attitude!


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Georgianne starts reinvestigating this area of the village. What she found is that not much had changed. Aid and assistance are still sparse, but the villagers stoical and enduring.


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I have gone behind the buildings now and am looking northeast into a mountain valley. Note, despite the greenery, the sparseness of trees, especially in the distance. Now we are touching on a great ecological problem in Haiti, the paucity of trees and forests.

There was a very timely article in Newsweek recently, A Tree Grows in Haiti by Jeneen Interlandi, from which I quote:

"Almost all of the country's problems--natural disasters, food shortages, poverty--can be traced back to rampant deforestation," says Ethan Budiansky, the Caribbean-programs officer at Trees for the Future, a nonprofit group that is planting thousands of trees in the mountains around Gonaïves. "So if we want to fix the country, we have to start there." (source)

Well that is a bold statement, that planting trees is key to rebuilding Hait. But just how so? Continuing:

While there are no panaceas in Haiti, successful reforestation might come close. By absorbing water and holding soil in place, trees can minimize the impact of natural disasters and repair nutrient-poor agricultural lands. An aggressive reforestation campaign would also bring much-needed jobs to the region and, if done correctly, could solve the energy conundrum that led Haitians to cull their forests in the first place. "Planting trees is not just some quaint side project," says U.N. Development Group chair Helen Clark. "It's the key to rebuilding the country." (source)

There are many villains culpable for the dearth of trees in Haiti, dating back to French sugar plantations, continuing on through timber companies and other land-clearing enterprises, but encompassing, as well, thousands of penniless Haitians who were forced to cut down trees themselves to engage in subsidence farming, or to burn them and turn them into cheap and affordable charcoal, a prime fuel for heating and cooking in Haiti. The charcoal trade is huge in Haiti, but also ecologically devastating.


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More tree-starved mountains in the distance.


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Now I began to survey the earthquake damage to Macassin.


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Haiti's countryside in reality is lush, as witnessed in this colorful photo of palm trees and flowers.


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More tents


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Gille Naude is showing me earthquake damage now.


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This wall and pillar is shored up by a a wooden pole.


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A heavily damaged store


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Don't get the impression that Haiti is living in the 19th Century even here in the mountains. As you can see from the advertising on the wall, this place serviced digital cell-phones, so the technological communications revolution had reached here too.


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The entranceway to the store.


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Inside looking out


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More heavy damage


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Looking out through a hole in the wall


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Inside a damaged storeroom


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This structure is lucky it did not completely collapse.


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This goat could care less about all this anyway.


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Perhaps the goat has set the tone, as Gille's family members cut-up.


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Georgianne and our "Fixer" Andre are talking to Jackson, Gille's son, just back from his job as we prepare to drive back down to the plains. Next stop, a sugarcane mill.

 

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I am a student of history, religion, exoteric and esoteric, the Humanities in general and a tempered advocate for the ultimate manifestation of peace, justice and the unity of humankind through self-realization and mutual respect, although I am not (more...)
 

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