Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 14: Two Weeks

Today marks me being here at the HODR base in Leogane, Haiti for a total of two weeks. It's been interesting to look back on this blog and reflect upon how things were when I first got here and how things are now.

It's almost strange how comfortable I've become living in a developing country, let alone one that just experienced a huge disaster. Things like houses which have been reduced to piles of rubble, burning heaps of trash, wild dogs, and people bathing in the street would normally have drawn my attention but now they are everyday occurences. Just as someone living in an American city becomes accustomed to sleeping through the nightly hustle and bustle , the chorus of animals (especially roosters!) that sound off here are barely background noise to my snoring.

Going to the market, while always an interesting experience is no longer a sensational one...basically just a way to buy some eggs or fruit (Although passing through I still draw quite a bit of interest from the locals). An evening walk down the street with some friends to buy a drink from a local with a cooler is hardly an intimadating experience, but when I first arrived I had no idea what the night held.

The HODR base has become a home for me. I eat 3 meals a day, mostly consisting of rice and beans but the people I share these meals with are some of the most interesting I've ever had the fortune of coming across. At the end of each day I come back to base after a hard days work to a cold-bucket shower and a tent with an air mattress but after a hard day's work in the heat it feels like a Ritz-Carlton.

Paul Clammer, who wrote the Lonely Planet Guide to Haiti said that HODR is "an organization where good ideas naturally float to the top" and I could not find a better phrase to describe this place. Almost everyone here involves themselves in the major project of clearing rubble to move Haitians back into their homes, however we have a great deal of flexibility to get involved with other projects that can benefit from our individual skills and insight. For example, one day I found that I might be useful to the Water Survey Project since I could both operate the survey computer and make use of my French language skills. I am now going to be able to see this project through its beginning stages.

One thing that remains consistent is my amazement at the Haitian people. After all the hardship they have experienced, so many of them remain incredibly positive, upbeat and authentically gracious for the work we are doing here. We hear about the occasional unfortunate incidents from UN security updates, but nearly every Haitian I've encountered has been nothing but hospitable to me as a guest in their country.

Its been an amazing two weeks and I can't wait to see what the next two have in store.

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