I'm in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and about to jump on a bus that will take me to Haiti.
Since I'm going to Cap-Haitien, the bus will cross via the northern border instead of in the south where we entered the country on the last trip days after the 7.0 earthquake.
I expect today's crossing will not be as devastating, but still eye-opening.
On this second trip, I'm anticipating great poverty and major deforestation, which has been a severe environmental problem.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic sit side by side on the same island — Hispaniola. But the Dominican Republic has lush green forests. Haiti, on the other hand, is almost completely bare. More than 98 percent of its forests are gone.
Most Haitians are descendants of African slaves brought over in the late 1600s by French colonizers who destroyed tens of thousands of acres of forest to plant the cane that made Haiti the world's largest sugar producer. More wood was cut to fuel the sugar mills. Entire forests were shipped to Europe to make furniture of mahogany and dyes from campeachy.
In 1804, slaves defeated Napoleon's army and Haiti became the world's first black republic. The great plantations were divided among the residents. Most families got small pieces of property -- not enough to sustain a large family. Haiti is one of the fastest growing populations in the world. Many farmers chopped down more trees to make and sell charcoal.
I also want to share this video with you. This video below represents, in my mind, some of the most powerful moments of my first trip -- how Haitians helped Haitians.
The man in the video, Estime Gesner somehow survived a four-story building falling on top of him. Here he is reeling in pain as Dr. Will Conner of Matthews treats his broken and infected leg. Spontaneously, Linda Pierre, 40, began to sing. Pierre, who had a 10-inch scar across her face and full casts on both a leg and arm, sang "Gen konfyance nin bondye, Gen konfyance nin bondye."
Each time Gesner moaned, Pierre sang a little louder. Other patients and their families joined in until nearly the entire room was singing. "'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. Just to trust him at his word."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Photos: AP, Franco Ordonez