In 1997 Maryse Kedar, a good friend of my wife, Meredith, had recently become
Secretary of State for Tourism in Haiti and we were invited to assist in
developing some promotional material. As part of this effort we were
provided access to helicopter transport and made flights covering about
three-quarters of the entire coast.
As so often happens in Haiti hopes and plans became
mired in political ennui and nothing happened. It was however
a memorable personal experience. Haiti is unique. Like much of
its art it has a quality of the surreal. To me it also had a feeling some
post-apocalyptic world where government and law had collapsed and bands of
survivors scraped together a feral existence from a ravaged countryside.
Probably no other nation has such a devastated natural environment.
Amazingly, despite this, Haiti still
possesses a strange beauty, the people are remarkably cheerful and
friendly, and its natural world hasn't just collapsed but somehow adapted
to persist and share in the poverty.
It is easy to dismiss Haiti's problems as something
unique to that nation but I am not so sure that it may not also be leading
the way to where many others are headed.