My boss told me a story this morning about his friend Gibson who lives in Haiti and needed to go to the capital to update his passport status. It’s pretty incredible that when all other means of transport failed or were unreliable…
The food riots have kept most people away from Port-au-Prince over the past week, and contrary to the advice of friends and the authorities, Gibson made the long bus ride through the mountains on the one road from Jacmel. He doesn’t have a car, and travels most long distances via the public buses, which are infrequent at best. Getting into the city was no problem, but once there the situation appeared worse than he had predicted. There had been riots on the streets all day, and barricades of burning tires had been built by hungry and frustrated protesters. After finding all of the government buildings inaccessable due to lock-downs and barricades during the protests, Gibson intended to turn right around and get back home as quickly as possible. It became immediately clear that tempers were rising and things became violent. The armed protesters and UN peacekeepers eventually exchanged gunfire and at least five deaths have been reported.
To his fright, Gibson found the line for the next bus out of town was massive, and many of the major roads had been blocked for vehicles. So what did he do? He found a street vendor who sold him a beat up old road bike for a couple bucks and rode that skinny wheeled bike up and over the mountainous 30 miles from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel. He’s no bike commuter or weekend warrior, just a guy stuck in a bad situation who found a way out. It was a story better told by my boss, and undoubtedly better told by Gibson.