After a wonderful two weeks in the states (see, I’m one of those people now calling America “the states”) I am back in Haiti. It is snowing in Texas and I am sitting at a picnic table outside in shorts and a t-shirt with the sun on my back and a nice breeze in the air.
Going back and then returning to Haiti wasn’t as full of emotions as I was expecting. Or I guess I should say it wasn’t filled with as much of certain emotions as I thought it would have been. I didn’t experience a whole lot of culture shock when I got back into America. Before this, I had only been out of the country for, at most, ten days in a row. After spending 5 month in a third world country I thought I might have been shocked by everything American that I would see again....but I really wasn’t. I enjoyed the convenience of getting coffee at Starbucks, drinking from any water fountain I wanted, being able to order food or ask for directions and understand everything, walking out to a car and hopping in and driving where I wanted. I enjoyed those conveniences.
I also found myself noticing very strange things. I could understand all the conversations happening around me. It was a little overwhelming to go from usually ignoring conversations around me (because I can’t understand them) to being able to eavesdrop on each and every word that was said within hearing distance.
I also felt like most everyone I saw was a little on edge. Blame it on travel or the holidays, or the combination of both, but everyone seemed to be stressed, or angry, or in a hurry.
I enjoyed getting to see all of my family and catch up on what everyone has been up to that hadn’t been relayed through email or skype. It was good to sit and just be. Sitting in front of a fire, drinking coffee, reading a book, watching a movie. Although I got bored at times, it was still nice to even feel bored.
I was able to ring in 2012 in Dallas with some good friends and spend several days visiting and hanging out around Dallas.
I wasn’t sure what I would feel when I arrived back in Haiti. I knew I would miss the people that I had seen in Texas as well as eagerly anticipate the return of my friends and coworkers here in Haiti, but I didn’t know what I would feel about being back in this country in general. I know it was only two weeks, but it felt like longer.
When I landed I really felt like I was at home. This is home for now, but it was still a very comforting feeling. The cinderblock walls topped with barbed wire looked familiar and the road was comfortably uncomfortable. But one thing that was shockingly different from the states, one thing I hope I never get used to, is seeing the poverty all around me.
I don’t want to be unaffected by the poverty and chaos around me. I want my heart to always break as it does now when I see a child wiping down windshields for spare coins when he should be at school learning how to add up those coins. It’s a weird thing to say you want your heart to break, but it’s true. I never want to be unaffected.