11 August 2011

More than first travel blues

I don't remember where I found this photo, but it's one of my favorites of live revived in PaP
I recently read an article by the Frugal Traveler about the 'blues' typically faced by travelers on the first day, when you're bumbling around in a new city, not understanding the language, and nothing seems to be going right.  I have certainly faced those times, but typically it just gets better and, as he concludes, it's these 'trying out' times that make one feel actually familiar with a new place.

I can't help but think how different visiting Port-au-Prince for the first time.  It will likely be filled with a certain level of confusion and discomfort, but not because of the typical traveler's dilemmas.  Instead, it is the first-hand experience of a havoc only read about in the news or heard about second-hand.  Some say it's horrible, lamenting the slowness of recovery.  Others say it's a beautiful place - and my, how the beaches are lovely!  (A Haitian woman told me this, and I smiled.  Maybe next time?)

I'm actually tired of using the word 'disaster' because it is a term devoid of hope, although there are few alternative ways to phrase it without resorting to euphemisms.  But who knows what my first reaction will be?  I asked one of my friends how to mentally prepare.  She told me to be ready for some level of shock, but that it would be individual to the person.

So I won't get lost because I will always be with a driver or someone who knows their way around.  I might not get to wander the city at night because of a 10pm curfew and safety measures.  I will meet other travelers, but not ones who somehow "stumbled upon" the destination but rather those who came knowing they were risking their lives to a certain extent.  Will it be overly somber?  Exuberant in the resilience?  It's hard to say now, with two feet firmly planted on American soil.

I'll let you know tomorrow.