Our first night in a tent city was very interesting. A rooster in a far-off tent city would crow. This would evoke a respond from another rooster in another tent city and so on until our local fellow would add his voice. This crowing would last a few minutes, then cease, then repeat itself again about 10 minutes later – all night long. Dogs would then get in the act, though they seemed less organized. And finally, prayer and song began around 4 am, before the sunrise. This city is alive through the night.
One of our colleagues Alcidor drove us around Port-au-Prince today to view the effects of the earthquake. There is no way to properly describe the level of destruction and havoc that the earthquake has caused (see pictures below). It will be months before this city and many of those that perished will be dug out. Yet the city is alive and vibrant. They are coping and hopeful and getting on with their lives. As the pictures also show, the markets and street vendors are as active as ever. We saw no signs of any trouble, nor have heard of any during the day. The night is different. Nobody goes out at night. Even from their tent cities, which are everywhere, the Haitian people are remarkably resilient and optimistic. We also saw virtually no foreign presence other than an occasional US or UN personnel. We saw no distribution centers and no food or supplies in trucks moving anywhere – though we could have missed them. Our friends in the tent city that are here at the Bureau of Mines tell us that they have been given water and medical help, but no food, and are not aware of any distribution centers. We have heard that food is stuck in the airport and seaside port, but the means to bring it in does not exist, though we cannot confirm this.
Upon returning to our base we spent the afternoon showing our Haitian colleagues who will join us in the field how to set up the GPS receivers. Then we set up our first receiver nearby and began recording data. Tomorrow morning we split into 3 teams. Sarah and Andy will head north, Estelle and Glen will head south and west, and Eric will stay around Port-au-Prince. We plan on making measurements for approximately 2 weeks, covering the entire country.