I arrived in Haiti on March 1, 1993 and went straight to a cheap hotel close to the presidential palace. I had left Scotland three years previously to travel the globe and all my worldy belongings were with me in a blue rucksack and two cardboard boxes.
I got to my musty smelling room and couldn’t understand why the lights weren’t working. It was late and I was hot and irritated and probably half petrified to be in a strange country where I knew no one and spoke not a word of the language. So, after reading a GQ with Clint Eastwood on the cover (it’s funny the details you remember), I went to bed.
In the middle of the night I was woken with a jolt as the lights came on and the overhead fan started turning noisily. I was none too pleased at having to get out of bed to turn everything off.
The next day someone on the hotel’s crumbling veranda explained to me this was how things worked in Haiti. Some nights you got electricity, some nights you didn’t.
I lived in Port-au-Prince for two whole years and the only time we ever got electricity 24 hours a day was during the 1994 World Cup. The military rulers knew they could kill and torture with impunity. But they knew there would be hell to pay if the people couldn’t watch the World Cup.