Haiti is only the size of Maryland, but traveling in this island nation warps my sense of time and distance.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has begun roadwork from Gonaïves, the capital of our department, where the national highway changes from asphalt to dirt, but no one is celebrating yet. Even as the roadwork crew smooths the road with huge tractors and lays the first layers of asphalt, people hold their praise until they see if this project will be finished in a manner that will greatly impact their ability to travel and, hence, improve their quality of life.
When I was growing up, my family would often traverse the 120 miles from our house to my grandparents’ house without thinking anything of this two-hour journey on a smooth asphalt road. But here, the prospect of a 120-mile journey means multiple modes of transportation and an entire day of travel.
This morning, I hopped on the back of a fire-engine-red motorcycle taxi with one of my preferred drivers to head north farther into the countryside of Haiti. Compared to our destination of the communal section of Pendus, Gros Morne is a mecca that boasts egg sandwich restaurants and sidewalk bars with refrigerators, powered by the occasional electricity from the national grid and backup batteries that hold a good charge.