Vanessa and I just finished a skype chat. She's living/working in a remote area of Haiti. It had an earthquake earlier this year, is currently experiencing an outbreak of cholera, and there is a cyclone on the way. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.
l: what u having for lunch? do they have many corporate food places? mcdonalds? subway?
V: i had lunch hours ago
l: oh yeah. it's the evening.
V: squashed fried bananas
V: crushed pea sauce
V: and lots of leaves, i think cooked in meat unfortunately
V: wasnt so bad, apart from the meat
V: i havent seen a mcds
V: chains dont seem to exist here
V: not even supermarket chains
V: most of the supermarkets are lebanese owned
V: and there's a few bakeries that also do burgers and McDs type stuff
l: oh right. well, hopefully the aid people will do something about that. might be a good emerging market soon. heh heh.
l: sounds a bit crap there at the moment though. i'm pretty interested to go and see.
V: ha well yeah they've already had an effect on the supermarkets, massive new one opened recently, can get everything there
V: even tofu
l: is the government ok at the moment?
V: elections coming 28 nov
V: seems like its going to be 'stable' though
l: is it two-party?
V: i don't think so
V: there's millions of presidential candidates
l: not a real democracy then
V: ha, but i think the guy who will probably get in is friends with current pres
V: and he's directeur of some massive company i believe
l: so overall it's a good place to be?
V: i like being in the mountains
V: it's pretty quiet and i think i'm going to keep interested in my work so that's good
l: what happened to the guy with cholera?
V: the first guy was fine i think, but there were many more cases up there since
V: been about 300 deaths i think now
V: but i'm told official stats seem a lot lower than reality
V: want to talk to my friend who works in camps in city tonight, see what's happening there, must be crazy
l: yeah, couldn't be good with lots of people living in poverty, all in one place.
l: it isn't overly infectious is it? just health related.
V: what do you mean? pretty infectious i think
V: you don't want to shake hands with someone who has got it
V: but pretty easy to treat
V: it's just that a lot of people don't realise how serious it is and so don't react
V: and it would be pretty hard to walk for several hours to get to nearest clinic if you got it in the mountains
l: oh right. i guess i must have half-known that, but it seemed weird because it is so related to water.
V: well admittedly i don't know how long the bacteria survives outside of water
l: so what do they do up there?
V: just a whole lot of farming
V: corn, beans...
V: rice, bananas, avocados, some root vegies
l: animals too?
V: yeah lots of animals, but they don't seem to eat them very often
V: although supposedly they eat cats and dogs
l: well, nothing wrong with that. in many ways it's a good idea. you don't have to farm them for meat.
V: lots of chickens but the chickens lay their eggs anywhere so not a whole lot of egg collection
V: nothings very organised
V: but lots of mules and horses etc to transport things to markets
l: and just dirt roads?
V: in the mountains its really just walking tracks
V: but they are improving the road leading to Chambo, which is the last town i can drive to
V: it may even be all bitumen to Chambo by the time i leave
V: but suspect they doing it all pre-election and then there may not be much after
l: and then you walk over hills to the village and then on to your hut?
V: its actually pretty flat to get to my house
V: the mountains start a bit further north from my village
V: i walk through the river a couple of times
V: its a pretty nice walk actually
V: and weather is cooling down a lot at the moment so even better
l: many trees near there?
V: not many. i really miss the trees
V: around my village there are some, but surrounding hills are bare
V: have to get into the mountains where i was before to see trees
l: u going to start planting some? or is it not really anything to do with your job?
V: not really... maybe could do it about the water sources
V: but they really need trees
V: but if a program did just start planting them, just like that, they would just be cut down to make charcoal...
V: need to do a few other things at the same time as planting i think