The Demons came that first night.
Bob drove through several other neighborhoods stopping occasionally for Charles to describe to me what we were looking at. Things in PAP were what I heard described as, hectic. A snapshot of a Sunday afternoon in the capital pictured throngs of people out on foot crowding the sidewalks and alleyways sometimes spilling out in to the streets. The gigantic cumulus clouds had moved from over the mountain and out to sea to the north no longer obstructing the bright rays of the sun. We toured several other lower neighborhoods stopping occasionally so that Charles could talk. By the time we arrived back at The National Plaza I was only slightly more orientated than I was before arriving. It was time to start our two and a half hour search for a hotel. Bob turned the car to the left off the square onto an avenue I had never seen before. The long two way street was lined with the most fascinating two and three story colonial buildings painted mainly white and gray. On the walls facing the streets hung practical black iron work in the form of little balconies at each window. More black metal work could be seen in the ornate handrails lining the white brick front steps down to the avenue. A small amount of this section in town was quake damaged, but mainly the row of 19th century architecture and construction was in tact. Tall trees shaded the sides of the cobbled street and side walk from the powerful radiant sun.
At the end of the old road our car jerked left and then came to a stop in front of a tall steel gate that reminded me of the entrance to Sr. Reyes' compound in Tlachichuca. Bob tapped the horn three times and then it was manually pushed open by the smiling gentleman with the stainless 12 gauge escort shorty with a pistol grip. We pulled in and Charles and I went in to the open air lobby to talk to the woman in the red dress accented with a bright blue collar. Her Creole was clear and in English translation, there was no rooms available, at all, all week. Off to the second try, maybe four miles away further up the mountain but thirty five minutes with traffic. Still the same no vacancy at this next Inn which was much older and high column colonial than the previous hotel. The mahogany tall ceiling lobby jumped straight out of the late eighteen hundreds and it had an open air aroma with a hint of musty wood and benevolent human spirit. I looked around the property as we descended the tidy not spotless stair case that led down to the grassy slope near where Bob waited for us in the 4 x 4. The landscape felt old and authentic, past functions on this piece of property have left a mark in historical time. The three of us pulled away back into the chaos looking for me a room. There was no anger or ego, not one of the three of us were holding onto anything that we thought was ours. On up the undulating narrow street we made several steep turns as the little red truck moaned and echoed against the street side walls. My sense of orientation was completely shattered by now and although I did not know exactly where I was, it was obvious that we were headed up towards the center Mountain above PAP.
The third try was the lucky charm. Willie was on duty at the open steel gate with his A-Gunner Consta strapped with an old blue steel barrel .45cal made by an eastern European Company with a logo I did not recognize. Later in the story during an amicable conversation Consta would write the French and Creole translations for, I am sick. Taken from Consta's own hand writing in my notebook, "Je suis malade." and "Mwen malad." He did have .45 on his lap while he leaned over my note pad and jotted down the language lesson. More on that one and parallel human interaction transfer later. Up the wrapping center split grand stairs from the cobbles or perhaps ballast stones that had made a transatlantic voyage almost 300 years ago to a another open air lobby. After some communication and understanding the clerk decided to give me space for the night with a promise that if I come back early in the morning I may have a place to stay for the entire week. "Sal Senk", the young clerk said with a smile, which sounded a little to me like, "salle cinq", en francais. It was the same and different to me at the same time as I said goodbye to Charles and took his cell number. I thanked him for the help and he told me to call him if I needed anything.
Room 5 was on the second floor just below the third floor and the roof of the place above that. It was a corner room on the north west side of the hotel which was surrounded by a fifteen foot wall that was no less than two feet wide at its base. From the catwalk outside my rented door I could see down and over that western facing wall of the property. Next I dropped my bag and went to the roof with the camera and checked out the 360degree pan of PAP. Wood smoke filled the air which was at least ten or fifteen degrees cooler than down in the city by the water. There was a soft warm breeze and a single dog barking as the illusion of a setting sun turned the sky the color of fire.
Downstairs for a bit in the open air terraced cafe I watch as other travelers straggled in. I ate some fried potatoes and drank some water which until this moment has not had any negative effect on my human system. The stars were everywhere just above me and that giant mountain ridge to the south. Before going up to get some sleep I walked around the perimeter of the property which gave me better understanding of where I was. Even though there was only one way in for the guests, there was an emergency way out over the back wall on the raised terrace above the outdoor cafe. In the event that it would be needed, one could execute a rather easy hanging drop down to the street onto a sand pile at the base of the wall.
Back upstairs to Room 5 to clean up and crawl into the rented bed. The sheets and covers were stiff sun dried and smelled natural. There was a large wide window above my head, the curtains were cracked letting in enough urban night light to illuminate the room in a pale gray glow. While laying on my back with my hands folded across my chest as if I were a garden variety corpse in a decorative box prepared for being viewed, I thought about the day's travel and wondered what tomorrow will bring. I felt tired, it was near midnight and I was being pulled to sleep.
Nervous energy started to work in my head. Could this be a few representatives of the quarter of a million or more souls that had perished just nine short months ago when the earth shook? I seemed to think that this was a very demonic force for on the third attempt to close my eyes the tips of the flames morphed into more rounded shapes. The dance continued at a very fast pace as small holes opened up on the now rounded heads of these individual dark entities. White gray eyes, some larger than others, each with their own distinct shape. Mouths even started to open on a few of them that were not there just seconds before. At that point I realized that I have nothing to hide, I was not in their space with any malicious intent. They had to see my heart and take the good look in which would make them understand that I was not there to hurt anyone, take anything from anyone or exploit anyone for my own gain. Right then, my eyes still closed for the third time now I unclasped my hands from over my chest and put them along side of my prone body. Immediately the black finger dance on the inside of my eyelid movie screen stopped. They literally froze where they were and must have got a good read from me because in another two or three seconds in unison they all pulled away slowly exiting my visual cortex to the outside left and right periphery where they came from. This first interlude with a demonic force was over and I felt relieved that it had appeared as real as it had. I rolled over and within no time was asleep on the late fast train to Haiti R.E.M. land where the most vivid dreams play constant.