The people and culture here are difficult to understand. A city of contradictions. Both people and place are wrecked yet withstanding.
I look into the streets and see a people willing to do anything it takes to make ends meet: their resiliency captivating and inspiring me. Yet, talk to some of the people here and there's a different story. One man speaks of all the men he's seen who've all but given up, playing cards and begging to pass time, letting the rest of the family fend for themselves.
Another, Peter, seems to say the same. Then he tells me there's quite a lot people of Haiti can learn from the woman before us, Jocelyn.
A red couch cushion supports her back. Her legs are tucked underneath her, wrapped within the black material of her dress. Sweat sits on her brow, but she never slows from her work to wipe it. White dust from bags powder her bare feet. Feet that can no longer carry her. She's been paralyzed now for well over ten years.
She dismantles strands from empty rice sacks to weave into rope. She has her own little process. A large fistful of individual strands tied together at the top, making a tail of sorts. Three tails then braided together to make the rope. She clenches the end of the rope between her teeth for better leverage as she wraps the cords tightly. She moves deliberately, meticulously.
I've spent the last hour watching her work, diligently weaving her rope as Peter translates my questions and her answers to each of us, back and forth. She tells me that for her, this passes time. Making rope that will sell for less than a dollar each helps her forget.
There's no sense of resentment with Jocelyn, no broken spirit or bitterness pervading her being. She chooses to be joyful.
"There are people worse than me," she tells me. "If I can do this, it is a grace from God and I am happy."
After I finish speaking with her, Peter talks with me further, speaking of the garden she keeps, the life that she's made for herself: the resourcefulness, persistence and joy of this woman. To him, she is in stark contrast to others in this city.
Though Peter seems quick to, I could never call the people of Haiti lazy.
I see the circumstances: the brutal cycles of poverty, corruption and brokenness. Slivers of hope they cling to would likely slip through my fingers. Who's to say I wouldn't give up?
If there's one thing I've learned here, it's that no situation can be judged.
I could quickly condemn the orphanage mother who lets children starve to death for the sake of a few who can now go to school. I could quickly retort that I would never let a child starve and become a living sacrifice for the chosen few I want to get an education.
But Haitians use their resources in ways that may seem foolish, removed from their situation. Reality in Haiti is often full of contradictions- death to a few in order to bring hope and life to a handful.
It's hard to say if Port-au-Prince is beautiful or desolate, lazy or resilient, hopeless or hopeful. The good and bad here seem caught in some grand dance.
But, when I see a woman like Jocelyn, hope gleaming in her eyes, I can't help but feel the potential that lives within this city.
Enjoying and learning from this chapter as the pages turn