The rain in Haiti

We had a little storm last night; my first glimpse of rain in Haiti. It continued into the day.

Nothing to write home about per se; blustery winds, a bit of rain, but still – even this minor blow seems to have brought a good part of town to a relative standstill.

Haiti was lucky this year; after a dreadful hurricane season in 2008, which undid much of the grudging economic progress of the previous two years, in 2009 the weather was relatively benign.

But I got a small sense of why storms wreak such havoc here. One relatively unremarkable windy rainshower, and the roads turn into slippery deathtraps, covered in branches, rubbish, gushing drains. (Sadly, my camera – which I stuck out the window on occasions – was covered in rain, and most of my snaps were unusable.)

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Finante, our nanny, was a no show, as were some of the people needed to put the finishing touches of our house (ie, water pump, which is still not working properly). I got the sense that much economic activity comes to a halt with the rain. I am not sure if it was related, but the internet was also down most of the day – apparently some issue with the cable to the Dominican Republic, Anna was told.

On the plus side (for me), the evil Route de Freres traffic jam was mercifully light, but the drive to our new house remained an exercise in caution – as the remaining vendors darted in and out of the road in all directions, skirting collapsed walls and rubble, skipping past torn overhead advertising banners (which hung perilously in the middle of the road, brushing passing cars).

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Sadly, the colors on new orange and pink building I have watched painstakingly painted over the past couple of weeks were already sporting runny blotches. Some parts of the market, garbage-strewn at the best of times, appeared pestilent.

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No wonder so much time is spent by aid workers here preparing for the next storm. But one hears worrying things – that despite Haiti’s increasing disaster preparedness, new developments are creating accidents waiting to happen: roads perched beneath piles of mud and rock, people living on deeply unsafe landfill and so forth. I dread what will happen when a real storm hits. That said, judging by one facebook update from a friend of mine in the UK, Haiti is not alone. “Snow, frost, rain, thunder and now a power cut…” it read. The veneer of civilisation is thin all over.

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