Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bring out your dead

There’s a dead body lying on the street in Bel Air. A young man, who died in last week’s violence during the march to protest Aristide’s departure. No one wants to touch it. The Brazilian UN guys patrolling the area say the police need to pick it up. The police haven’t hauled it away. No one’s claiming it. Residents in the slums don’t want to touch it, fearing the chimeres (pro-Aristide gang members) will go after them as well.

So this poor dude, bare-chested, bullet-riddled, is lying face down in the midst of a trash heap on the street, flies buzzing about him, rotting away. While life goes on around him as normal. Peddlers hawking bits of fried plantains to eat, charcoal to sell, bottled water. Men playing dominos. Children trudging to school.

I can picture it, so surreal, and yet typical of Haiti. And my warped imagination is playing a twisted version of a scene from Monty Python. “Bring out your dead! Oh wait. Not THAT dead. We only want the safe dead. Bring out your Politically Correct Dead!”

I hope the body is gone by now. I hope it’s gone by the time we arrive in Haiti next week.

In the meantime, I need a list of items to pack.

1) Bullet-proof vest
2) Steel helmet
3) Notebooks and writing instruments
4) Romance novels to read on the road while driving by dead bodies in the street.

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