A Rush Hour Epiphany: On the Road in Haiti

Jan 9, 2022

Dusk begins to fall like a sigh of relief after a long day’s work; blood, sweat and tears in its most literal sense. A stagnant line of vehicles is evidence of the journey home for many. Hues of pastel paint the sky, a thick coat of smog masking the silhouette of the mountains in the distant background. Paradoxical beauty abounds.

Some travel by foot on the side of the busy road; others straddle the back of motorcycle taxis. This is blue hour, the brief sliver of daylight left after the sun has sunk beneath the horizon. This, too, is rush hour, but nothing is rushed about it.

I sit in the passenger seat of a Kia pickup, the windows rolled halfway down to provide some relief from the stuffy cabin air. The AC hasn’t worked for months and, honestly, might not ever again. It’s just one of those things you get used to, both the heat and the unresolved mechanical issues.

But I take it all in — the sights, the sounds and yes, even the smells. It’s all too familiar and yet new all at once. Three years ago, I whispered profanities under my breath as I impatiently idled in this kind of traffic for hours on end. Now, I’m savoring it. I chuckle as I also choke back tears. How can that be?

So much has changed since I moved back to the States at the tail end of 2017. Corruption, instability and foreign interference have escalated in the years since I left, creating a tumultuous environment. Here I am, wanting to stay in this place but knowing I can’t, to sit in this painfully crippling traffic while my friends want to leave. I cannot deny the privilege I hold in the form of a passport, a small booklet with so much power simply because the gold emblem on the front says so.

I lean slightly out of the window to snap a photo because I want to remember this. The last light. The last time I will ride this road this year. Maybe the next too. When will I be back? I wonder to myself, both rhetorically, knowing the hard truth that it could be a long time but also earnestly, not wanting to believe it.


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A Haitian child blows bubbles and plays with her friends in Port-au-Prince, Haiti