Coal Sellers. Les Cayes, Haiti, 2006

Charcoal Sellers. Les Cayes, Haiti, 2006

January 5, 2006. My first morning in Haiti. I had arrived via Port Au Prince, and then another plane-hop across the mountains to this bustling market town on the coast. Everything I had heard about deforestation and the barren nature of Haiti’s landscape was now very real,  slipping by under the plane. And here, on the street, I saw another rendering of a desperate use of land and resources: a street lined with charcoal sellers (charbonnières). Most had walked from the nearby uplands, or trekked in on taptaps (the local buses) with their sacks of carbonized wood. Some lived in  town and worked as porters and sorters for charcoal merchants. Hot work.

This man’s gesture became a portent of all that I have come to feel and love about Haiti. Defiance, resilience, futility, despair, stoicism.

Shot with a Leica M6, 35mm Summilux lens, Fuji P400 color film and digitally converted to black and white.