It's time to start blogging - I've put it off for long enough. And this is as good a time as any. I've just landed in Santo Domingo after 11 days in Haiti. And despite working solidly since I got there, all I want to do right now is write. I'm not sure where I'm going with this but then I guess that's the beauty of a blog.
My first thoughts are that I wish I'd stayed a little longer and that I'd written more or particularly blogged more from there. I guess hindsight is a wonderful thing. There wasn't enough time but maybe I could have found some.
My primary task there wasn't journalism, it was helping to establish a new public information service via SMS messages to the Haitians. I did manage to get some time to report - but it didn't feel enough. And now I feel like I have so many thoughts and pictures in my head and I want to put them somewhere. I still have some stories to write from there but I felt like thinking aloud.
The main thing I was pondering just now is how human beings have the ability to adapt. The Haitians I came across over the past few weeks had adapted amazingly to their new environment, to their new homes - donated tents, tarpaulins or shelters made of cardboard and bed sheets. That's not to say they're not terribly sad or traumatised by the events of the past weeks or that they're not feeling completely lost (I wouldn't claim to be able to look into their minds on the basis of a few short interviews or conversations). But they're adapting. They've made their new shelters their own, they've found innovative ways of making a living and they're getting by with less food or water than before.
It just got me thinking about how we all adapt. It's on a completely different level but I've also had to adapt over the past two weeks. And I guess the extent to which we adapt is all relative to what we knew or experienced before. I didn't lose my family, home and livelihood in an earthquake and I really can't imagine what that's like. But like a lot of other foreigners who have passed in and out of Haiti since Jan. 12, my life completely changed for that short period. I went from a very busy life with a pretty rigid routine - working, studying, other regular activities - and from a comfortable flat with endless hot water to 11 days of pretty much non-stop work, sleeping in a tent in tropical heat, eating food that often looked and tasted dubious, and witnessing a lot of sights that have been quite difficult to take in. Now I've done that kind of thing many times before, as I'm sure many of us have, either for work or holiday, but for some reason I felt like writing down my thoughts this time.
I guess it's on my mind as I've just arrived in a rather plush hotel room in Santo Domingo, with all the trappings, and I'm wondering if I'd rather be in my tent. The traffic outside is rather noisy and the room non-descript and I have zero desire to switch on the big TV. I'd adapted to my tent, to my new lifestyle, to the noises around me. Pretty soon I guess I'll have adapted back again. I'll be eating muesli with organic yoghurt for breakfast and wondering how I ever did without it. I'll be taking long bubble baths and (hopefully) be enjoying my routine again. But right now, I think I'd stick with the tent and the cold showers.