From the air, I could tell that things had changed. Fields of blue and white tarps now inundated the tropical landscape of Haiti. But even more so than the landscape transforming into collapsed buildings and tent cities, it was our interactions with the locals that seemed to have changed the most.
When we first rolled into town, during our first trip a few months before the earthquake struck, there was a lot of interest in our arrival. This time, a van full of Americans loaded with a roof rack full of surfboards barely warranted the turn of a head. It's as though the hoards of foreign-aid workers and influx of media personnel that had flocked to Port-au-Prince to broadcast the disaster to the rest of the world had a numbing effect on the locals.
It is now hurricane season, and there is much concern that the heavy rains will devastate the large amount of people seeking shelter in makeshift tents. As we made our way through the city, we got a little taste of the rain. Within minutes of the start of a downpour, the streets turned into streams, and puddles overtook the sidewalks. Fortunately, this was only a typical afternoon shower--but I couldn't imagine the destruction a major rain storm would cause.
After a quick lunch, we made the decision to head out to the southwestern tip of Haiti in the hopes of catching a small run of swell that had begun to show on the offshore buoys. We made it to the coast just before dusk. It was then that my pity for this country gave way to awe and admiration--the view was absolutely beautiful. After taking it in, and feeling exhausted by the day's travels, we retired to our hotel in Port Salut.
The surfer and social activist Kahana Kalama is the star of the award-winning documentary Gum for My Boat: Surfing in Bangladesh, directed by Russell Brownley. He, Brownley, Matt Beacham, Art Brewer, and Shayne and Shannon McIntyre are traveling to Haiti as part of a surf-and-serve excursion for an episode of Fuel TV and National Geographic's On Surfari.