Wherever you live, you get used to the noise, the rhythm of your city. It either becomes something you like or something you hate. I have grown to love the rhythm of Port-au-Prince; it is frantic like free jazz. However, the last two days, the rhythm of this city has been so noticeably different. It has been inconsistent, like a kid with his first drum set. Fast, slow, stopping, staring all very sudden.
My street, off the major thoroughfare of Delmas, is usually very crowded. Motos, marchans and cars make crossing the street to get to school an adventure. But the last few days it looks like this.
We have taken pictures, linked to friends' blogs and news stories about the unrest in the city, but have not written about it ourselves. Here are what the last two days have been like for us.
Though there is no traffic on the side streets, it felt tense. There were lots of groups standing around. The air was heavy with the smell of burning tires. It is a smell we were going to have to get very used to. At the corner where our side street intersects with Delmas, one of the major arteries of the city, there is a huge protest that lasted for days. Supports of Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly constructed what looks like a very formidable roadblock and congregated there.
The crowd seemed endless and ever-changing. Some people showed up, chanted, burned something, then left. Some seemed to always be around- like "Chef", the obvious ringleader, organizing the barricade, when to add more tires to the fire. He was always on his cell phone. I am told he was most likely paid to orchestrate this chaos. This group is the perfect example of no rhythm. It is easily worked into a frenzy for a moments through out the day, but is never consistent.
The police and the UN seemed ambivalent. Several times National Police trucks drive by the barricade and turned down our side street. There was no show of force. The one exception to this was Thursday when two APC's coming up Delmas really gunned it to get through the burning barricade. The crowd scattered. The APCs cut through the barricade like a knife through butter, then was pelted with rocks.