As I went around the city going back and forth to the airport I was reminded of all the destruction that I had left last January. All the buildings that had collapsed and were still so slanted that it looked like a gust of wind could knock them over. Even though I had already seen all of this before it was sad to see the enormous amount of work that still needed to be done, just to clear the ruble.
Driving around also brought me back to my last day in
We also drove by some of the tent cities. Some of them taking up only the space of a small public square and others that stretched off into the distance. One thing that was good about seeing the tent cities was to see the tents. When I left people were using make shift sheets, plastic tarp and umbrellas for shelter and while this was still the case sometimes, there were also an abundance of tents giving people a close to suitable place to live. But its still disappointing to see the conditions in the tent cities and one has to wonder when people will be able to go back and live in permanent homes.
One of the things that affected me the most during my trip back was the fear. I was staying in Petionville at the Episcopal missionary’s apartment. It was on the third floor of a building next to the church and right next to a busy street. The night as we were going up to the apartment I remember asking if the building had been checked out and if it was safe to sleep in and the response was something like “We think its ok”…
As it came time to sleep we talked about what we would do if there was an earthquake and where we would go. I wasn’t all that comfortable with the plan but it seemed like it was the best option. Then I prepared a backpack with my passport, change of clothes, granola bars, phones etc that I could quickly grab in case I needed to leave quickly. We slept with the door unlocked so we could get out quick.
As I laid down to sleep at night I couldnt help but about how all this prep work probably wouldn’t be that useful if anything like the January 12 earthquake happened. I didn’t really think there would be time to get out or that I would have the presence of mind to get out with my things or worse that I would just sleep through something. Then I thought about the buildings I had seen which had pancaked. Not very comforting. I laid there stiff as a board feeling like I was back on the grass at the soccer field the night of the earthquake.
Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well and woke up to a swollen bottom lip. Apparently during the night when I had managed to sleep I was so tense that I bit my lip…and judging by the feeling in my lip…I bit it hard and for a long time.
Despite some of the fear, anxiety and sadness, I tried my hardest for it not to become the focus of my trip. I knew that this was what my students and friends had been dealing with ever since I left and I couldn’t let just one night ruin my visit.