We decided to take a pass on the two UN flights we had arranged from Santo Domingo to Port-Au-Prince as it would have meant splitting up our team and having arrival times four hours apart. Instead, we opted for the eight-hour drive across the Dominican Republic. Not exactly my regular idea of fun, but it wasn't without its interesting moments.
One detour was followed by another. Burning tires sent up thick plumes of black smoke that cut into an already white-smoked air. These flaming road barricades were apparently ignited by people protesting all the aid vehicles going into Haiti. In their minds, the poor areas of the Dominican Republic are just as deserving of the life-giving supplies and goodies.
A few hours before, we had boarded a nice bus in Santo Domingo. Too nice, I thought. But it ended up serving us well when we turned on a lonely detour only to be met by some angry youth who had set palm branches on fire across the street. They pelted a vehicle in front of us with baseball-sized rocks as it tried to skirt their blockade. They must have just mistaken us for "disaster tourists" in our nice bus and waved us through.
The Dominican/Haiti border was nothing less than chaotic. Long lines of relief trucks waited as other trucks dispensed cargo into a mass of humanity scrambling for supplies. The desperate activity was the first impression we'd have of the reality that awaited us after the official border crossing.