You all have seen about a million pictures of the tent cities that blanket any swatch of open land available in PAP, but not often do you see (at least on this blog) the insides of these tents. Below is a small panoramic picture of the inside of a tent located on Champs de Mars, the tent city just across the street from the Presidential Palace.
It’s pretty no frills, a small 9′-by-9′ (which is actually pretty big) room covered with a combination of tarps, blankets and rugs. Interestingly enough, one thing that you will notice with almost every tent-like structure that you find here is that they are almost always impeccably clean. Haitians have an intense sense of personal hygiene: their houses are swept and clean, and they can get their whites brighter than any “Super Wash” cycle on your washing machine in the States. It’s something that is theirs, something to be proud of, and even if everything around them is in chaos, that part of their life is kept in order. What’s also interesting is how this doesn’t translate to outside their dwelling, where trash piles up at almost every street-corner.
But it doesn’t matter how clean they keep it, because nothing will stop this from being a miserable way to live. I mentioned on the previous post that these tents are like ovens, and it’s no joke. During the middle of the day the temperature inside these tents reaches higher than 140 degrees, it’s stifling hot. I’ve been doing interviews with different news organizations in tents for the past couple months and every time they finish they run out like their shoes are on fire. “Damn, it’s hot in there,” they say. “Yeah, and they do this everyday,” I respond. “No thank you…” they quickly say before moving to the next interview. Unfortunately, I’m sure that’s exactly what each and every one of these people is thinking as well: “No thank you.”