I knew that I couldn't quite anticipate how I would feel upon first setting foot off the airplane. As mentally prepared as I thought I was from keeping up with media coverage, It was still shocking to see the state of disrepair this country is in. Looking out the window from the descending Boeing 767 most of what I could see were tents , presumably belonging to people displaced by the damage caused by the earthquake.
HODR had arranged for a driver to pick me up from the airport and take me to their base in Leogane. The man with a sign bearing my name motioned me through a large crowd outside the airport to a 1980s vintage Toyota Corolla that had seen more than its fair share of wear and tear. The traffic in Port Au Prince was overwhelming enough to make even the most seasoned NYC cab drivers take caution. Signals, lanes and speed limits seemed absent here. If there is a system to driving here I haven't figured it out yet.
The tents I saw while landing were a common theme all the way to Leogane, with rubble, flooded streets, and refuse also along the way. Despite the apparent state of affairs, the people I saw walking the streets seemed jovial and cheerful, going about their lives in spite of the tragedy surrounding them. This attitude is something I'm keen on observing more of while I'm here.
After about an hour and a half and numerous stops along the way I finally arrived at the HODR base. The French I took in college came in handy--my driver Évance spoke no English but kindly explained to me that he needed to get his wife to work on time before he could take me to my destination.