Go Get Your Benediction

4/15/10

Serge didn’t arrive until 11 am. He blamed his lateness on the gas shortage. We had lunch at the hotel and then headed out to deliver on my promise to return to see Eugene. As soon as we got beyond the Oloffson’s gates I felt like I needed to walk. So we walked. The weather was kind to us. There was a bit of a breeze and the sun didn’t beat down on us quite as heavily.

What I saw between the time that we left the hotel to the time that we reached the Ecole Nationale des Arts made my heart ache anew. Mounds and mounds of rubble. And right next door to those mounds of rubble are houses that still stand—sort of. And people who conduct business just across the street from it and children who walk past it on their way to the schools that have begun opening up again. There are buildings where you know, that if anyone was inside when the quake hit, they are still inside. Francky told me that he still has friends under some of the buildings.

Later in the day Serge and I made our way up to Petionville. Serge had told me earlier that transportation was a problem because there was no gas. We took a decrepit old bus up and I got to see what he was talking about. Our bus driver kept turning off the engine every time we were on a decline in order save the one gallon of gas that he told he had when we entered. I saw a man rolling a drum of gasoline down the mountain. The lines outside the gas station on Delmas were out of control.

I saw a building that had imploded, collapsing on itself. The woman who shared the front seat with me heard me gasped. She turned to me, nodded with a smile and said, “Ou we sa?” You see that?

In Petionville the market was a whole nother level of chaos, dirt, garbage and desperation. I didn’t like it there. Francky was my designated escort since Serge was afraid he wouldn’t be able to find transport back up to Petionville if he took me to my hotel downtown.

We found a bus pretty easily. It started to rain really hard as the bus driver got in line to see if we could get a bit of gas. The bus was a cacophony of voices as people discussed everything from the price of gas to whether the guy who was behind me was selfish. For pulling the window closed on his end while leaving me to get wet.

As we made our way down the mountain and as people got off the bus the driver quipped, “Go get your benediction”. Even in the middle of all that misery, some of the passengers returning to waterlogged tents for the night, they still joked.

We then decided to duck into a bar until the rain let up. The bar is right in the middle of the tent camp on Champ Mars. We had a wonderful chat about history and beliefs, childhoods, relationships and the future. I looked around at one point and was astounded at a man who had taken his position in front of a couple of men who were sitting. I have no idea what story he was telling him, but he was so animated and the men were so transfixed by his story that I couldn’t help but be drawn in.

When we got back to the hotel, we decided to try one of the Oloffson’s famous rum punches. I’m too much of lightweight.

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