The road to Cange, Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti 02/06/10: "The road to Cange...wait, this is a road?"

By: Mat Mendez

I came up with a new riddle while on a long drive today.

What do donkeys, roosters, dogs, oranges, vehicles, goats, horses, and people all have in common?

Simple. They all coexist on the "road" to a village called Cange.

Okay, I didn't say it was a funny riddle. But the truth of the matter is, riding the roads of Haiti is an adventure like no other.

We went up to Cange today so we could show you firsthand what the medical team from Duke is doing to help the people of this quake-ravaged country.

The ride was about two and a half hours long, up mostly rugged, unpaved, and just plain bumpy roads. Larry was certain he felt every rock in that ride.

Once we cleared the crowds of Port-au-Prince proper and hit the mountains, the landscape was breathtaking.

There are rolling hills as far as the eye can see, stunning formations of rock and sand, and foliage so bright, green, and alive. We even passed a glistening blue lake, held back by a dam of rather impressive architecture.

As we got closer to the village, however, reality set in once again. Huts both temporary and permanent lined the streets. At one junction, a young boy sticking out his hand, begging for money. At another - a frail old woman doing the same.

Once we found our way to the hospital, we immediately caught site of the Duke team hard at work.

They picked up care from a previous American team, treating earthquake victims who found their way from Port-au-Prince seeking better health care.

I would posit they found it. But can you imagine taking a 2.5 hour ride on a bumpy road with a compound fracture?

Most of the injuries are orthopedic in nature - bad breaks of legs and arms - and the victims are both young and old.

In the background, we heard a school band playing, or at least learning how. The hospital is part of a social-medical complex. Some people even managed to snatch Wi-Fi from a neighboring building.

It was a modern moment, a modern place in a culture still as basic as they come. Cange, as we discovered, has a unique history in this country. I would encourage you to spend some time learning about it.

Once we were finished there, it was back down the mountain and into Port-au-Prince.

We learned that the 82nd Airborne had to postpone a planned tent and shelter operation (which we planned to cover) until tomorrow, so we ventured into a set of hills where the destruction was just massive.

Not many people are left there, and the few who are live deep in the canyon, where we can't safely reach them.

So after getting some shots of the area, we traveled to a farmers' market to try and track down residents from the area.

It turns out most of them were. And all were eager to talk, expressing anger and frustration at aid organizations worldwide.

It seems that in a city as massive as Port-au-Prince, no matter how much good work is being done by various aid organizations and troops, so much is left to do.

Through our translator, I asked a group of Haitians what one thing they hope for going forward.

Their request was not for something material.

"Don't forget us," they responded in Creole. "Don't forget."

Previous blog entries

Click here to read about ABC11 traveling around Port-au-Prince on Friday.

Click here to read about ABC11 arriving back in Haiti on Thursday.

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