Our drive from PaP to Leogane when we arrived was not as emotionally draining as it was the first time we went, but it was traffic heavy, as..I guess..it always is. Bumper to bumper…hot…bumpy roads…bodies and luggage smushed into a tiny car…watching people live their lives around you, as you sit and wait to crawl forward a few inches. Many times I thought we’d be better off walking…like in the opening scene of Office Space. But then the sun would hit me, and I would be thankful we at least had some shade.
At one point while we were sitting in traffic, it seemed as though the cars in front of us were finally gonna move forward a bit, so our driver got a little anxious and moved forward before the car in front of him did. The left front portion of our car hit the right back portion of the car in front of us…I guess to our left…it’s hard to tell when lanes don’t exist!
Abby and Adri and I looked at each other…”now what?” Our driver got out to survey the damage, the other driver got out to do the same. Meanwhile, everyone else was still waiting for traffic to move forward, so no disruption was caused by this inspection (in case you were freaking out about that). Both drivers took a look at their cars, didn’t even look at each other, and then got back in to their respective vehicles. It was literally less than five seconds.
There was no anger, no screaming, no talk about insurance coverage, no exchange of information, no insults. Nothing.
In my opinion, there was simply an understanding that “shit happens.” In Haiti, cars are cars. For the majority of Haitians, they are a mode of transportation, not a demonstration of how much you make a year, or how much money your parents have. The cars probably get more beat up by the potholes in the streets than any damage cars make to each other anyway.
Even though it was a five second interaction, I loved what it stood for (again, in my opinion…who knows what the reality is): as long as my car is fine, and I can still get these people to their destination where they will pay me, what’s a scratch on the car? The car still runs, my life goes on. At that moment I had to laugh at how different this interaction would have been in the US: can you imagine an Orange County soccer mom who just got her bumper gently tapped by someone else? Yeah, I’m speaking in generalizations here, but I feel like the concern would have been on the scratch, and not the greater picture: nothing really happened.
Unrelated car troubles on our way in. Unbeknownst to us at the time,
Kisa, Mikey B. and Diego were all in that pickup :)
While I’m at it, there was also that time in Haiti when we ate at MaSaJe for Adri’s birthday…and Mike’s pizza had mold on it. The fries were delicious though!