Overnight call at the hospital yesterday. Tranquil. Felt hot and sticky, braised in sweat and mosquito repellent. Was wondering if have ever been quite so dirty.
But near morning, rain. Heavy for 2 hours or so. Rain like that, after a hot, oppressive night, is usually a relief. Here, it's hard to feel refreshed when you think about people in the bedsheet tents. They would have been drenched, tents flooded, streams and mud along the footpaths.
It had stopped by daylight. The clouds had cleared. Our patients and their caregivers opened up the tents that had been shut tight against the rain, and started their morning routines: toothbrushes and hairbrushes in hand, trips to the latrines, smoothing sheets. Our staff were sweeping water away from the corridors where water had collected.
I, too, went to brush my teeth and use the bathroom in that pale, scrubbed-clean light. I got smiles and "bonjours" along the way. Some people were singing, as a habitual way to give thanks in this very Christian-religious country. The elderly woman's "bonjour" was part of her song as we passed.
There is both beauty and tragedy in a morning like that. Beauty in sharing daybreak and its mundane intimacies with our patients. I marvel at their smiles, still. They have suffered; their injuries are serious. On this morning, though, they were dry and safe.
The tragedy is in fearing for those in the refugee camps. I have seen some camped by the side of the road, but I have not visited any of the bigger gatherings. Apparently they are impressive; tens of thousands of people, packed like sardines without a single square inch of extra space. Many of the shelters are sticks and bedsheets. During the predawn rain yesterday, I got up from my cot to watch it fall in the darkness, my heart breaking for the additional misery it will bring to the too-many homeless. It was a hint of the beginning of rainy season. And rainy season is followed by hurricane season.