This past week was the worst week ever. Apart from learning that a colleague was hit by a car while driving a motorcycle to conduct a field visit (he wasn’t wearing a helmet), two high profile Haitians were murdered/assasinated (one of which happened in my neighborhood), there was an earthquake that literally left people shaken up, and unnecessary panic and chaos ensued pending an announcement from President Michel Martelly regarding his nationality. (There has been rising political tension over the last month or so, primarily due to an investigation of the nationality of some elected officials, including the president. Former Prime Minister Garry Connille supported and cooperated in the investigation, and as a result, he was forced to resign after just four months in office. Also, three secretaries of state resigned when it was discovered they hold foreign passports. Martelly showed eight Haitian passports on national TV in order to dispel rumors that he holds an American passport, but skepticism remains, as there are accusations that the president has a second identity as Michael J. Martelly.) To be sure, things are getting increasingly tense and unstable, specifically in Port-au-Prince.
Whenever bad things happen, I try to look for the lesson or use it as an opportunity to make a change in my behavior. So from the incidents last week, I’ve been reminded that:
1) I need a helmet. I will not get on a moto again until I have one. Period.
2) I need to check the credit balance on my phone everyday and make sure I have enough credit to make at least one phone call. Earlier on Wednesday evening, my call with Felix was disconnected because I ran out of credit. So that night when I tried to call him after the earthquake, I couldn’t. I had to go online to Digicel’s website to add credit to my phone. Luckily, I was able to get Internet, but I may not be so lucky next time.
3) I need to charge my phone everyday. When I couldn’t use my personal cell phone on Wednesday night, I tried to use my work-issued phone. But the call wouldn’t go through because the battery was too low. I have consistent electricity now, so there’s no excuse for me not to keep my phones charged.
4) I need to keep a small, packed bag with a change of clothes, my passport and credit card near the door. Perhaps I’m being paranoid but given the political tension in the air and this country’s vulnerability to natural disasters, I feel like I should be prepared to leave in a hurry if necessary.
5) I need to make sure I always have an ample supply of Prestige beer and/or Barbancourt rum at home. Throughout last week, I kept putting off going to the market, and planned to stop on the way home on Thursday. But of course with the President’s announcement, that didn’t work out. So I was left with one Prestige in the refrigerator, unsure whether or not I’d be “locked in” for the next few days. That won’t ever happen again. Ever.