As the world mobilizes in Haiti’s hour of need, this collection of travel stories provides insight into life before the quake.

Photo, alan2. Feature photo, kretyen.

1) HODR Haiti: This is a New Challenge by Hancocjb

This post by a traveler who volunteered in Haiti does a good job of describing the challenges that relief workers will face while trying to help the quake victims and take care of themselves.

Generosity and goodwill do dry up at some point. But not the homes; they were inundated with water as recently as Tuesday.

2) Haiti: Sun, Sand, Sea – and Poverty by Tony Wheeler

Writing in 2008, Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler describes Haiti as a safe and colorful destination for intrepid travelers.

From balcony views of the Caribbean to streets lined with art galleries, Mr. Wheeler does a wonderful job of painting Haiti as an appealing tourist destination while still paying tribute to environmental devastation and crushing poverty.

3) Desperate Passage, by Michael Finkel

In my humble opinion, Michael Finkel is one of the 5 best travel writers of our time. His story of attempting to cross the Caribbean in the cargo hold of an overloaded boat of Haitian refugees is a stunningly courageous portrait of desperation that nearly ended in tragedy.

4) Haiti Soil, by Joel K. Bourne, Jr

This brief National Geographic article gives a new dimension to the old phrase “dirt poor”.

“Tè a fatige,” said 70 percent of Haitian farmers in a recent survey when asked about the major agricultural problems they faced. “The earth is tired.”

5) Haiti’s Angry God by Pooja Bhatia

A heartfelt dispatch from the crumpled streets of Port Au Prince, this New York Times editorial poses the agonizing question of why the Haitian people “turn to a God who seems to be absent at best and vindictive at worst?”

The answer, of course, is that they have no other option.

Please Help Haiti!

Matador is spearheading a major effort to get relief supplies to Haiti. For details, please read How You Can Help Haiti.