* by Mac McKinney On Highway 2, with huge cracks in the road from the Jan 12 earthquake and heading west toward Le'ogÃ 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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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'ogÃ 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:
* 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'ogÃ 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.
A solitary tree disrupts the view of the plains below.
There was a very timely article in Newsweek recently, A Tree Grows in Haiti by , 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 GonaÃ¯ves. "So if we want to fix the country, we have to
start there." (source)
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.