Izhar Harpaz is a Dateline NBC producer, currently in Haiti with Ann Curry and others from the Dateline team for an upcoming story. Follow Ann's tweets from the field and read Izhar's travel updates below:
Up in the air.
52 minutes to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. I have a bad back, which means that when I fly, I have to get up frequently and walk up and down the aisle to loosen it up. That is also a great opportunity to take a look at your fellow passengers -- fleeting glances: here, an old Haitian woman wearing three wide-brimmed hats, the top one with a colorful yellow ribbon; there, a middle-aged man in suit and tie, staring straight ahead through thin-rimmed glasses and somber.
I'm on my way to Haiti, on assignment for Dateline NBC, to chronicle an extraordinary rescue mission. The elements: an isolated mountain community, ravaged by the earthquake and the rapidly-spreading cholera epidemic in desperate need of help. An American medical team, divided into two groups, willing to parachute into treacherous terrain and climb up a difficult mountain pass, to save a few from certain death and provide relief for thousands more. But that is for the days ahead.
Right now, walking up and down the aisle of American Airlines flight #837, I'm wondering what kind of country many of my fellow Haitian passengers are returning to. To the outside world Haiti is an island of rubble and disease, of poverty and despair. I wonder, is that the only story I'll be able to find?
I tighten my seat belt.
Through the window I see a green landscape littered with roofless buildings and shacks. As the Boeing 747 gently lands on the runway of Port-Au-Prince international airport someone in the back starts to clap. A few seconds pass, and it seems as if this solitary expression of excitement will fade into the surrounding motor-drone silence. But then another person joins in, and then another, and soon the entire plane is clapping. From the row behind me I hear the man in the suit and tie and the thin-rimmed glasses say: "I'm home.