2011-09/haitian-taptap-port-au-prince-haiti-photo-by-erin-taylor.jpg

On a morning ride through Port-au-Prince

This is a guest post by Matthew Levasseur.

Today I woke up, took a shower, and got a moto-taxi ride to the bus station. I paid about 12.50 for the motorcycle ride across town (it's pretty far), through the Port-au-Prince morning traffic. It was thrilling and scary as it always is, but today I found it relaxing for some reason.

The driver always needs to get ahead. We ride between the lanes of traffic and hope that they keep their formation, their straight lines. They never do, because the road is full of pot holes and inconsistencies; so the cars ahead are always coming together or moving apart. We constantly dive into the gap and hope. We have to avoid the pot holes too, and it makes for an interesting game. My part is to stay limber and balanced.

This morning on the road a car's fender touched my leg, just barely. Not a scrap, not a tap, just a wisp. Barely a grazing. I tell the driver that if another car touches me, he's not getting paid.

We share a laugh about it. In this environment, we are always within inches of other vehicles; cars and buses, motorcycles behind us and motorcycles coming the other way. And pedestrians, everywhere.

Haiti seems to live out on the road, and the road is chaos! I wonder how we're going to clean this up? What would that be?

Less trash and no pot-holes would be great, really. But would that change the traffic patterns? People would drive faster but would the pedestrians leave the dangerous street? Would the motorcycles get crazier, or saner? The moto-taxis always get the blame for the chaos...

I almost forgot, but on the way, the driver got lost downtown and we had to take a circuitous route. This involved us going through a rubble section. As in, the road was all rubble, big chunks of buildings that had been worked on and left in the road, and there was a path through it.

We had to wait for 15 minutes or so because the path was full of people, wheel barrows, kids, goats, and another motorcycle ahead of us. Everything passes by inches, and I am pretty good at staying on a bike I think.

Anyway I got to the bus station, which is not a building- it is a section of the city, where the road opens a bit and buses can park. The Aux Cayes station, actually. There are multiple. I even got there in time to take the pretty bus, the small one that has AC and doesn't stop and requires US money to get on (I paid in gourdes!)

I sleep most of the way here, intermittently awakened by an older man in the front of the bus, who is shouting. He is lecturing the passengers loudly. He and his friends are drinking moonshine up front. The discussion is political... Haitian and US History. There is some debate. Haiti liberated Savannah! I am hoping that they don't ask ME about it, my pasty butt in the back of the bus. Just let me sleep.

At times the discussion on the bus gets so loud and rowdy, I think I am at home!

I keep thinking all day, same damn boat, people. Same damn boat.