I'm over my initial-Haiti shock, and I now have a purpose--focusing on finding solutions to help battle the poverty and suffering in this small island nation. The writing and tone of this piece feels significantly lighter only two lines in. It may be in part that we took a trip to the country, to the beach. Everything clarifies after a swim in salt, and indulgence in a Haitian seafood, fried food, beans and rice, buffet. Honestly.
We walked new streets today, talked with the Jehovah Witnesses' (en francais) and stopped by the eglise and parleyed avec Figueroa. We learned that all the good boulangeries and patisserries are closed because of la fete, which is the entire few days surrounding the new year and our short time in Haiti. Tony did sample his first Haitian ice cream.
Things were downright peaceful and we'd started feeling comfortable when at the start of today's walk, we were passed by several open trucks of UN peacekeepers, dressed in battle camouflage, several standing and wielding machine guns.
"What is happening or is about to happen that we are completely unaware of?" I asked Tony.
We are in a country that has undergone more attempted and successful coup d'etats than any other nation: 25 (according to wikipedia). Only Greece comes close at 18. In the recent Haitian presidential elections a clear/majority winner didn't surface, so another election must take place between the two front runners. This happens in other nations, but the Haitian complication is that no one seems to know when the next election will be. The right to vote and democratic elections are so key to the stability of a nation. With this one factor missing, what will be the outcome? Is this a possible reason for the patrolling UN soldiers?
After the UN brigade passed, it seemed a young man was following us. We slowed down and let him pass. He slowed down until we passed. We warp-speeded up, and I covertly turned every 30 seconds to see if he was still following us. I suggested we Tom Cruise-it and turn down a side street to slip behind a gate, and jump the perpetrator from behind. We would crank the truth from his soul and escape in a sports car driven by a lovely blond Bond. While escaping the sinister man, Tony is telling me of Haitian kidnap schemes where a man follows his would be victims and phones his collaboraters to tell them he's found an easy, old American couple whose relatives may be willing to pay a ransom.
All too soon the man, who was probably just a teenager, was no longer following us. I have to admit: slight disappointment.
Which brings me to the bigger questions: Are Tony and I suffering from middle-aged fear that life's excitement is over and this drives us to take unnecessary risks? Like two sixteen year-olds in a Mustang driving 100 mph at 2:00 a.m on an empty freeway? Are we trying to up the thrill of life, imagined or not? It's much more dramatic to die in an international incident than lying in a convalescent bed at 95 years of age. With diapers.
So which country is next? Syria?