From Haiti to Seattle. And back.

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Interviewing folks living under old tents shredded by wind and rain days as Hurricane Tomas approached Haiti in Nov. 2010

I’ve taken a reporting/blogging position in Seattle, my hometown, with the very cool Common Language Project. It’s a move I’ve been planning for a while.

“Ou poko ap vini?” “M poko konnen ki lè m ka vini anko non.”

That is to say, I don’t know when I can visit again or return. I am hoping it can be soon.

Upon learning of my imminent departure, another foreigner asked if I wasn’t going to have a “going away party.” The thought hadn’t occurred to me. My “party” turned out to be eating tonm tonm and diri sos pwa on a Sunday afternoon with a friend and her kids (and a “pi red blan”). Good times.

I’m going to miss Haiti.

I’ll miss folks yelling “blan,” “blanco,” “mon blan,” and “hey you,” at me in the street. I’ll miss the ability to instantly surprise and delight them by responding in their language (a beautiful one, and I don’t mean French).

I’ll miss Haitian cuisine, which kicks American food’s ass any day of the week. I’ll especially miss lam veritab, pate, mangos, zabokas, diri sos pwa, lalou and Malta H. Haiti’s bananas are better than American bananas too.

I’ll miss the near-total lack of enforced traffic laws and zooming about on a Chinese motorcycle. I won’t miss the traffic. And I won’t miss the shiny NGO-stickered sport utility vehicles and foreign military patrols that overpopulate the streets.

I’ll miss living in a football-crazy culture where everyone recognizes my soccer jerseys and interrogates me about my team loyalties.  I’ll miss slipping, sliding, and falling during gravel-strewn street games, trying to prove (with mixed success) that a ti blan kap jwe too.

I’ll miss widespread class consciousness and impassioned political discussions over lunch and in tap-taps. I dread integrating back into a far more depoliticized, ignorant, corporate media-saturated society – though maybe I’m being overly pessimistic.

I’ll miss walking home, feeling reflective, and being momentarily awed by the sheer strength and dignity of the Haitian people as they go about their business: laborers, machanns, students, drivers, police, etc.. I won’t miss the first question I often I received: Can you get me a job with an aid group?

I’ll miss being useful. My conscience (stricken with credible proposition that I’m betraying Haiti by leaving now) is a little bit eased knowing I broke some important stories professionally, and on a person-to-person level, I materially helped out various friends, neighbors, and strangers alike.

This list falls well short of being comprehensive.

I will miss Weed, Elizabeth, Mark, Feindy, Claudy, Esraie, Billy, Junior, Yvon, Nesly, Jonas, Lovely, Rose-Marie, Marie-Michel, Rose Mina, Johnny’s father, and others.

Nap wè.  I will be back, a harder, better, faster, stronger journalist. And I expect to keep writing about Haiti, from time to time, while lòt bò.

12 thoughts on “From Haiti to Seattle. And back.

  1. Good luck and I’m sure the people will miss you too. I really hope you go back sooner and become a better journalist than the good one you already are.

  2. Haiti will especially miss your great reporting, Ansel. I’ll miss you. Take care of yourself.

  3. Good luck in your new job at Seattle Ansel. We will miss your reports from Haiti. Take care.

  4. what can you say about PIH are they making a difference in Haiti, dose paul farmer still help out their.

  5. Thanks everyone.

  6. will miss reading your posts on haiti, ansel, but I’m sure you will continue posting some fascinating material for us all to read here.

  7. ugh. people like you are annoying, and part of the problem.

  8. Haiti will miss having a great journalist like yourself reporting on its behalf.

  9. Ansel, I have loved keeping up with Haiti through your blog. Will miss the reports. Best of luck in Seattle.

  10. I just came back from Haiti 3 weeks ago and those are all the things I miss. It’s great you got to experience it. People always ask me why I go there, I have often found it heard to convince them that it is a great place. Next time I’ll just tell them to read this.

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