I’m long overdue in posting some pictures from my recent trip to Gaza. Stay tuned for that. There is still quite a bit to process and I hope I’ll get to it in good time.
But for now, I will share one of my first impressions shortly after getting in the car on the Palestinian side of Erez: it’s slightly reminiscent of Haiti.
Both areas are very impoverished and have suffered through a lot (the most obvious difference is that the plight of those living in Gaza is the direct result of savage brutality by an occupying force).
My first trip to Haiti was less than a month after the 2010 earthquake. Despite being fairly well traveled, I had never seen so much devastation in my life. It looked as though the earthquake had just struck a few days before.
The streets were bustling with people buying and selling all sorts of things. I was immediately struck by the misery and chaos. But it didn’t take long to feel that special charm which most visitors to Haiti know all too well.
There was a CD playing on repeat across the street from our hotel. My stay there was interrupted by two days of r&r in the DR… and when I finally returned to hear them playing my song, I was very happy indeed. Pawol La!
I posted a little music video of it all onto my YouTube page; it’s still the most popular video I have there.
That trip was also the catalyst I needed to finally get a real camera. All of the pictures I used in that ‘music video’ were taken on an old point-and-shoot.
Since that first visit, I’ve been back to Haiti three more times. I was here when the people elected Michel Martelly as their new president. I will probably return when they choose his successor.
On my last visit, we spent a couple days in the capital chasing around the Secretary General of the United Nations. He was in town to inaugurate an athletic center… but the topic on everyone’s minds was UN accountability for bringing cholera to a country that already had more than enough problems to deal with.
When we finally caught up with Ban Ki Moon at a press conference in Port-au-Prince, we asked him about the situation in Gaza. Israel’s onslaught there was in full swing then, and Ban took his time answering the question… so much so that he ended his press conference immediately afterwards and took no further questions.
The next day, my colleagues and I went to Jacmel to do a story about Surf Haiti. It was one of the most rewarding days of my career and I got to see a side of the country I’d never seen before. If you live outside the US, you can watch that story here. If you live in the US, please thank the architects of AJAM for geo-blocking our work. But at least you can look at these pictures. Even in the most miserable places, beauty abounds.
Less than two weeks after these images were taken, I found myself heading to Gaza for the first time. I ended up taking over 1000 pictures there. I will be sharing some of them with you very soon. But for now, I’m back in Haiti.