14 January 2010


For sending assistance to Haiti to help the country recover from the recent earthquake, the aid agencies are requesting money only. The poorest countries have problems with "absorptive capacity"--they simply do not have sufficient infrastructure, and even trained personnel, to effectively absorb assistance. I heard the shipping port at Port-au-Prince is blocked.

As you probably have heard, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas (there are reasons for this, of course), and one I once took particular interest in, having twice traveled through it as a low-budget traveler. I'll never forget the outrageously painted "tap-tap" buses with chickens occasionally squawking between my feet; and King Henri Christophe's now-UNESCO-designated palace and fortress inland from Cap Haitian. I even applied for a job in Haiti.

Key-word search Hotel Oloffson, an old ginger-bread hotel with sprawling veranda on the side of the mountain overlooking Port-au-Prince. I wonder if it survived?

This is not the time to tell of my travels in Haiti or even of its history (it was the world's only successful slave rebellion; the U.S. occupied the country from 1915 to 1934). Perhaps another time. Now's the time to send money.

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