Calm before / the storm.

Posted on 05/09/2011


How does it go? “Calm before a storm?” I know there is a calm that settles in after one as well. It would seem that I’ve skidded to a sudden halt, my mind demanding a moment of stillness. I am now in my third month in Haiti. It has taken ninety-some days for me to arrive; all of me, thrown into random boxes. I, along with Marc, have been training nurses from three local hospitals; in neonatal care. The training was held in a part of downtown Port-au-Prince that held reminiscent of colonial times. The building was old, probably built long before anyone i know was even born, there were some modern additions but it was mostly unchanged for the last 200 years, made of real stone walls covered in plaster with thick wooden beams spanning the ceiling. There were wood floors and a small central courtyard –


    (I love “Colonial” buildings)

We worked to finish early. The results of the presidential election were set to be announced and we knew we had only a reserved space of time in which to avoid the rush of possible riots. Ah the riots, called manifestations in Kreyol, political party members often pay people $3 to go out into the streets and create a riot. Marc and I kept a watchful eye on the clock, finishing up at 3:30pm to give ourselves enough time to return to the hospital by the 5:00pm election results deadline. 

Back at the hospital I grabbed a Fanta, yes, my colloquial drink of choice back in Mexico and retreated to the far end of the hospital. I sank into a sagging blue wheelchair, a favorite amongst hospital employees, and scanned the horizon. The mountains that flank the city appear to tower into the sky, the only skyscrapers we have down here; they seem to almost hang over onto the hospital. Some little plastic kites appeared, flitting on the breeze above the slums. Then I SAW the kites.


    (I saw the kites)

I’ve noticed kites like these before. Perhaps in the market? I recognized them, the print, the pattern of colors, the tiny dark hands that guided them on makeshift leashes of thinly braided cord. But, for the first time, I really saw them. As though the vast expanse of sky had scooped me up in a big, fat kiss, I finally realized I was here. “I am in Haiti.” This is where I belong, here, right here in this space of time and of circumstance. Haiti is where I am. There’s no place I’d rather find myself. I’ve fallen in love with this space, more so I’ve fallen in love with the potential for change.


    (Yes we can)

When politics enter a discussion in the US or Mexico, there is a certain attitude of non-importance that often manages creep in. Republican or Democrat, PRI or PAN life seems to just chug on by. I’ve learned that this isn’t so in Haiti, the place Columbus declared the jewel of the Caribbean. There is a very real danger that in the next few hours I will be running to safety, depending on who is elected. It would appear that I am not the only one to fall in love with the potential of this small island. The kites soar higher into the sky, as though laughing at me. “Stop all you analysis just be still. Be still in Haiti. Soak it up. Stop trying to understand it all, to neatly categorize every emotion alongside every political progress or failure. “Be content that you are blessed to be party to the saga that is Ayiti,” the kites whisper. Colorful phantoms flitting across the horizon.

Mwen kontan we

There has been a manifestation of peace in my head.

(A Peace Riot!)

I’m just happy I’m not blind.

(Viv Ayiti!)