LETTER FROM HAITI
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Greetings from my other island: No Wal-Marts, and a different strain of black dog here. Although I have shipped hundreds of trucks here and have actually seen 15 of them on my trip, this is my first journey to Haiti. I am staying at the hotel La Maison in Port-au-Prince across from the airport (the cost is $70 per night or $35 for two hours). It is clean and colorful with a quarry stone driveway and a bronze waterfall fountain with four brass nymphs pouring water. The outdoor bars have grass roofs with broken-tile mosaic flooring.
I feel safe here; the 24-hour security guard has a two-foot pistol. There is no pool, but there is a lizard in my room. I can hear roosters crowing every time the sporadic electricity goes out. I would complain, but my Haitian sister whom I have not met yet lives two blocks away in a Tyvek plastic shack, one of thousands of such shacks set up since the earthquake. She has no electricity and gets her water from a drainage culvert soaked with plastic soda bottles. Across from my room is a guy from Connecticut. He’s building prefabricated homes, says this place is desperate and fears the worst. I am frequently approached by people wanting to be my guide for tips. One of them mentioned a certain strain of cholera that kills you in four hours and said 800 people have succumbed to it. I was told 300,000 people perished in the quake.
If I could talk to President Obama, I would ask him to send a fleet of rubber-tired backhoes and adjoining dump trucks to clean the streets of debris. United Nations is a presence in its metal screen-meshed Land Rovers.
People are nice and welcoming. Life goes on and yet is hard. There is incredible traffic, dust and diesel smoke. Roadside vendors are everywhere. God only knows how they all survive.
A. Jeremiah Colarusso
and Oak Bluffs
The writer is a trucker and poet. This letter was posted to the Gazette on Nov. 15 and arrived Jan. 10, two days before the anniversary of the Haiti earthquake.
The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.