A Haitian Tale of Two Cities


Sara and I finally left out house this morning, left our home in Petion-ville for the first time since election fraud plunged Haiti into violent protests. Sara insisted she had too much work to do; I wanted out for any and all conceivable reasons—a Haitian version of cabin fever—I was not so much climbing the walls as I was willing to bulldoze them down the mountain, if doing so would assure escape—from our guards, the fence, razor wire spiraling above, our personal crown of thorns—

I—Wanted—Out!

But getting out was strangely anti-climactic—

As the streets were quiet and, though not literally deserted, they were largely empty of the activities I see most mornings driving to the gym—fewer vehicles, only a handful of children—little girls, usually braided and bowed, hand-in-hand with parents or one another, on their way to school, uniforms laundered and pressed.  These children were largely absent this morning.

So I exercised—I worked out—ultimately working out next to nothing in a gym whose wall of fifth floor windows overlooks the whole of Port-au-Prince—below the bay, the grit and grime of the city itself and treeless mountains circling beyond.  It’s a lovely view, as long as you don’t think too much about the details, about what’s actually happening there—the poverty, the hunger, the cholera, the fraud.

As long as you don’t think, you’re not sickened in the least—

But now I’m home—safe behind these walls privilege provides—nauseated by trying—wanting—

 A truth, any truth—

The news I read online doesn’t so much offer conflicting stories—as differing ones:

–A Reuters’ piece published by Yahoo News  saying presidential candidate, Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly has reversed his call to have election results annulled, insisting now the votes should indeed be counted.

The Haitian Times  indicating that Martelly is now calling the process “ an electoral coup d’etat,” promising that he will “contest the elections if he is not declared the winner”—that he’s the people’s choice.

The bottom line is this—

In Haiti it’s hard to grab hold of any singular story—

In Haiti there’s a soup of story—

In Haiti the story is itself unsafe—a cholera of narrative and news—

Here in Haiti there is story so dis-eased—dis-ease so full of story, there simply is no rhyme or reason to be had—no heads, no tails—and yet so many tales to tell . . . .

8 thoughts on “A Haitian Tale of Two Cities

  1. That uneasy silence must be very nerve-wracking.

    In Africa we also often have several versions of a story. It’s difficult to tell which is the truth. Like you I always check several sources, and try and find some commonality between them.

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    • Yes, the point where stories intersect! The truth is in the over-lap. How about impied over-lap–not so much that the detail repeats in both stories, rather is clearly expressed in one, but only obliquely alluded to in the other?

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      • To be able to do that though one has to have some inside knowledge, and a sense of where and how the story started. I notice that when watching South African stories on the International news networks.

        What’s that saying: “. . . There’s your side, my side, and then there’s the truth.”? In Haiti’s case of course you have multiple sides, and no real truth.

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      • Yes, I find that Haiti is forcing me to redefine the notion of truth for myself. It’s so easy growing up in the US to think of truth as singular, but I’m realizing that even there it’s much more plural. It has taken living outside of the US for a couple of years to begin gaining a perspective on this–and then, I think, it’s only a beginning!

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  2. Oh wow, how confusing and disturbing. The not knowing is awful. The poor people of Haiti have been through so much – and now this. I don’t know what to say. It is so scarily similar to so much of Africa.
    Strength to you and Sara.
    Sunshine

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  3. Wow! It must be very challenging for the many folks who want Truth.

    I love what you said, “As long as you don’t think, you’re not sickened in the least.”

    No easy answers indeed.

    Take care.

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