Haiti … Too Much Suffering
Having hurtled by car through the Dominican Republic to the ramshackle Haitian border, I and four other foreign journalists were desperate to reach Port-au-Prince by nightfall. So after exchanging Ramon’s beaten-up taxi for the the back of a modern pickup owned by one of Haiti’s elite families, our speed stresses were soon put into terrible perspective.
Just a mile or two into Haiti, a group of people stood disconsolately by the road, trying to flag down any vehicle that would stop, and pointing to the collapsed face of a nearby quarry. “There’s someone inside there,” one of them said, pointing to a pile of rocks.
Before we had time to even consider helping them, our car — like all the others in the convoy — had sped off, kicking up dust. The Haitians driving myself and four other foreign journalists into the earthquake zone took the morally nightmarish decision for us. After all, they had their own missing friends and family to find fast in Port-au-Prince.
Later in the day, after several hours winding round collapsed buildings, and corpses which at first we had mistaken for people sleeping, we found a hotel prepared to take us in. Or at least let us sleep in the open-air by the swimming pool. (The Hotel Villa Creole has generously opened its doors and facilities — despite considerable damage — to aid-workers and foreign reporters for free.)
As we pulled up, we were stopped by dead bodies lying in the road, and then a crowd of injured Haitians lying and sitting in front of the hotel lobby where some minimal medicines were being dispensed. As we hauled our four large boxes of drinking-water bottles out of the car, one injured lady held out her hand and asked for water. Then another, and another, and another. Perhaps mindful of the horrors of the quarry, we entered the hotel with half our water supplies gone.
Reuters photos by Eduardo Muñoz and Carlos Barria.
For more Haiti coverage click on http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60B5IZ20100113