Going Home Again: Day One in Haiti

"A nice smile, does not mean we are friends."
I am in Haiti, first time in eight years. While I am glad to be home again and hang out with my cousins, this return to the roots is bittersweet in every way since I am here for my grandfather's funeral. So, not necessarily a fun trip. Everyone says things are greatly different but I cannot attest to that quite yet. Besides the change at the airport (getting off in an actual terminal rather than on the runway and then riding the bus to a warehouse because the actual terminal/airport is still badly damaged from the earthquake) and a few other damaged walls and buildings, the people look about the same. There's always a football match (soccer game) to be watched and people to watch it. Music videos and commercials are of much better quality than what I remember, although the videos are over U.S. American and not in a very good way. Also, when did the Bloods gang make its way to Haiti?! And what is up with the time difference? We're currently an hour behind the UTC-5:00 due to observing year-round standard time. Keeps throwing me off.
Structurally, I haven't seen much change, but that's probably because I haven't been to the heart of Port-au-Prince yet, just to the outskirts of the city. As the plane was descending I did see the damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral as well as the national palace and many many tents. I have been told that they have started demolishing the palace but I could not see that from the plane. I have also seen a great deal of foreigners (civil and military), a new (to me) U.S. embassy (though fortress/palace seems more appropriate), and way too many U.N. tanks, police cars (?) and compounds to count. I thought the U.N. was here to help out, on the sidelines, behind the scenes? There in-your-face nature seems more like a full-on occupation. How can a country ever learn to stand on its own two feet if it is continually invaded and occupied (U.S. in 1915-1934, again in 1994, and U.S./UN 2004-present)? I shall go into the heart of the city tomorrow (maybe). Until then, I'll be here in the hills, enjoying this absolutely glorious island breeze behind the (jail-like) safety of multiple iron gates.

Aside: After so many years in the U.S., it feels odd having people serve me again... makes me quite uncomfortable.

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