I’ve been in Haiti for just about a week now, and what a week it has been… I am living in a house with most of my colleagues up on the side of a hill just outside of Pétion-ville. The view from my window is incredible. Every morning we wake up at 5:30 or 6am, take a cold shower (there is no hot water), eat breakfast together, and drive down the hill to work through bumper-to-bumper traffic. I am not a morning person, but I’ve already adjusted to the Haitian schedule, which is really just a pragmatic way to take advantage of the sunlight. Because we are so close to the Equator, daylight lasts around 12 hours give or take an hour depending on the season, so though the sun rises around 6am, it also sets around 6pm, which means that at 8pm, you are sitting in the pitch black and your body is telling you, “time for bed!”
It’s the rainy season here, which usually means it rains in the afternoons and I at least wake up with a blue sky. But lately we’ve had a 5-day streak when it’s been gloomy and either drizzling or pouring all the time. When it rains, all the mosquitos like to come hang out in my room, such that I now look like I have the chicken pox because of being so devoured by these damned winged creatures. The rain also makes it a lot harder to get motivated to do anything other than work or sleep, so I’ve done both in abundance… I read, I work on my laptop, I nap, I read some more, I fall asleep with my face on the keys, awake with the imprint on my cheek… all from the safety of my mosquito net. It’s all very exciting.
In the evenings we often go out to hotels around Pétion-ville, such as the Montana or Ibolele, which have beautiful views overlooking the city. There we sit with other aid and disaster relief workers sipping cocktails. It’s a little bit strange to do this knowing that half a mile away is a camp where people are living in tents, but there is a chasm here that the mind somehow skips over.