Yesterday’s drive in from Port au Prince was a lot to take in. We landed in Port au Prince and the airport was nice – it reminded me of the Miami Dade airport. Once we got off the plane I looked out of the window and saw these beautiful mountains. Once we left the baggage pickup and went outside we were bombarded with offers to carry our bags. We had to stay close and keep walking to find Stevenson, our driver and chief security at the study center. We followed Stevenson over to our van and so did a few young Haitians who put our bags in the van for us.
Driving through Port Au Prince was a lot to take in. The extreme poverty and clutter and waste filled streets were a troubling view.
Stevenson sped through the narrow and crowded streets honking his way around people walking and motorists. There were no lanes on the roads and most of the vehicles were trucks with 5 to ten people in the back. They call the taxis tap taps because if you want to get off you just tap the truck.
There were a lot of street vendors – the entire city was filled with stands of people selling shoes, food, tires, wood, metal, or just a combination of stuff.
There were a lot of animals; dogs, goats, cows, pigs. They were mostly standing on the piles of waste searching for food and they were always very skinny to the point where you could see every bone. That made it easy to tell when an animal was pregnant. I felt sad for the animals but not the same way I felt bad for the people. Some women were carrying large baskets on their head with items to sell in them.
Much of the infrastructure was still damaged from the earthquake in 2010 and the hurricane last year. Almost all of the buildings had stress fractures running diagonal up the walls.