30 April 2010

I am writing this on a piece of paper.

It has been one of those days. The outlook was already not good. I had to sack somebody in Leogane, and give somebody else a warning letter, never a nice thing to do. Then I needed to continue to Jacmel to discuss various projects and demands to which I was almost certainly going to say no. How to make yourself really popular in one day.

We left really early from Port-au-Prince this morning, to avoid the rush hour. Yet, even before 7 am we were well and truly stuck in traffic in Martissart, one of the slum suburbs south of town. We thus arrived late in Leogane, where I conducted my unpleasant business – even more unpleasant because the warning letter was related to breaches of security measures to which I personally have some doubts about their needs. There was no coffee in Leogane.

On to Jacmel, where we also arrived late, but still unexpectedly early, as the local field director had misunderstood my email, a euphemism for not having read it well. Somewhere between Leogane and Jacmel my Blackberry packed up, or perhaps somebody just forgot to pay the bills: I cannot get it to work anymore.

The field visit was totally unprepared, none of the technical staff that could have made such visit interesting was notified, and thus they were unavailable – in fact, many have not been recruited yet. The project I wanted to question – cancel, really – had already advanced much more than I had expected, based on far more miscommunication – non-communication, rather – than I had ever thought possible.

When I finally got to the hotel it turned out that I would have the share the room – a closet in which one person could hardly breath – with a colleague; I just about didn’t have to share the bed. In the end we did manage to find another room for him. I then had a shower, only to discover that there were no towels in the bathroom – after I had had the shower. The restaurant had a menu that listed well over 20 dishes, of which only three were available, all fried, and served by possibly the most un-Haitian Haitian waitress I have ever seen, throroughly unfriendly. That somebody can be so miserable! Back in my room, doing emails, I found that my computer battery was almost empty, and when I wanted to plug in the power cable, I discovered that the Ozana Hotel (really!) in Jacmel is probably one of the very few hotels in Haiti that uses, for no apparent reason, European sockets instead of the American type.

Which is why I am writing this on a piece of paper.

next: the break-in

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