Saturday, January 21, 2006


In 1984, Tocci and I visited Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We spent four weeks on Hispanola; we meant to go to Jamaica, too, but Haiti was so interesting we stayed there longer instead. We had adventures and learned about life in the third world. We gained an appreciation for what the necessities of life are. Food, shelter, water.

They had water in barrels that didn't seem clean enough to wash with, and that was their drinking water. They washed their clothes in the river that they dumped the city sewage into. We spoke to a man who had lived in Canada for a few years. He said he had no problems drinking the water in Haiti, when he lived there, but when he returned from his time in Canada and drank the Haitian water, he became very sick. We drank bottled water. The locals mostly couldn't afford that, and in fact the bottles were themselves valuable enough that kids would follow us to get the empties when we were done with them. All over the country, in developed areas, there was plumbing but no running water, and that made it seem even more of a deprivation, because you could see they used to have it, like having a well that has run dry.

When we flew back into Miami, we looked down from the plane and we saw, from horizon to horizon, back yard swimming pools. Private pools with hundreds--thousands--of gallons of water that was a higher quality than anything the people of Haiti had access to. And our two countries are so close to each other; these people are not on the other side of the world. They are our geographic neighbors. I could never look at a swimming pool or a tap the same way again.

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