Haiti earthquake diary: We ditch power bars for a hot meal

After a night shoot, the ABC crew I'm with heads to a posh eatery, but the contrast with the nearby tent city rankles.

Friday, Jan. 22

We do a night shoot on Friday. I haven’t been out past dark for a few days. The streets are packed. Not just the people getting ready to bed down for the night, in the middle of the street, but people out selling things, bringing things home, hanging out. It’d be like Carnival if it weren’t all so sad.

Some of the people from the ABC crew I'm with want to eat out. I like the idea. I’m sick of power bars and granola bars and breakfast bars. I’m barred out.

Hot food sounds great.

The restaurant that is open and close to the hotel we’re camped out at is La Reserve. So we go there.

When I lived in Haiti, I always felt guilty about going to the fancy places in this well-to-do suburb, Petionville, because it seemed so out of synch with my lifestyle, with the way my friends and I lived, with the way my husband, Jean Raymond, and I lived.

We were all pretty simple. Not that I didn’t go out to eat, but I hardly ever went to the fancy restaurants. I’m just as happy having the Haitian cornmeal mush, called mayi, every night and still not get sick of it – mayi with black bean sauce, coconut milk, green peas, red beans.

So the feeling of being out of place was familiar, and even more heightened because just two blocks away is tent city.

How’s that for contrast?

La Reserve is classy – all outdoors, tastefully decorated with low lighting and lots of plants. There is a plasma TV with the star-studded telethon for Haiti, and lots of foreigners, many of who are wearing the Doctors Without Borders T-shirts.

Nearly everyone from ABC orders steak. As the vegetarian in the group, I ask for a vegetable plate.

The contrast to the tent city sticks in my mind. Not that I should ever have to live like the people in the tents, but it sure as hell would be nice if they could live like me, if only for a moment.

For updates on Haiti following the Haiti topic page.

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