“The past is beautiful because one never realizes emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only the past.”
There was no one thing that could have prepared me for the complexity and contrasts of Haiti. It will be a long time before I can realize full expression. That it has to seep slowly through me and it will only be in the looking back that I may be permitted to perceive the significance. Like hiking to the top of a mountain, then turning to see the path you have taken.
For now, there is a calm acceptance to everything I’ve witnessed. But, I feel the end drawing near. I haven’t written about feelings or emotion much since arriving here…I cannot. To do so would open a crack I am not yet prepared to open.
I’m thinking it is like learning to water-ski. You can’t over-think. All you can do is try to remain balanced as you skim over the surface of the water. You cannot think how deep it is, or what lies beneath or what comes next. You just take each new wave or corner and hope to remain upright. And pray your legs don’t give out.
Author Wade Davis has written, “In Haiti, the present is the axis of all life.” I copied this quote down for some reason that seemed significant at the time.
I think I now understand why, although I am sure I am just brushing the surface of it.
So, I take each thing as itself…just for now. It is the way of things here.
There is a worn old man in a battered straw hat on the side of the road. I cannot conceive of the moments of his life that led him here – the burdens his brittle bones have borne – so my gaze goes on to the child dancing naked in the dust. I cannot imagine his future, so I glance from his small tilted house, billowed out at the corners, to the half-but-never-finished, mildew-stained cement house next door…someone’s broken dream.
From there, my gaze falls on a truck lurching past, horn blaring, brimming over with people, all of them packed in like cattle, but laughing…then the motorcycle carrying four people, then the slumped shoulders oh the tired woman herding three donkey’s laden with sugar cane, charcoal and bags of rice, and from there…the hopeful lottery booths with their familiar colours, the uniformed school girls walking arm in arm, the woman wearing the purple hat and pushing her wheelbarrow of goods down the street and finally, the rooster darting across the highway.
Then Rick swerves around a hole in the road, bangs into another and our heads bob and sway like dashboard ornaments.
And then we are on to the next thing.
This is the way it goes. This is the way it stays.