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Haiti: "Has anything changed there?"

I hadn't even reached Haiti. In fact, I hadn't even reached the flight for Haiti when the question came.
"Has anything changed there?" asked the woman behind the Air Canada desk.  Her voice was filled with skepticism and sadness. Like most Canadians, she had watched in horror when hundreds of thousands of Haitians died in January. She may have even contributed part of the $200 million in individual donations.
So what had all that Canadian cash and concern achieved, (not to mention so much more of it from the rest of the world)?
A few things are clear. From the air, I can see that the container port at Port au Prince has had its cranes rebuilt. The rows of tents and helicopters and equipment from international aid workers at the airport have disappeared. And once I drive into town, it's obvious that the roads and a few areas of the city are free of rubble. (Mostly, the mess has been pushed into front and back yards... or into the sea).
But so many other things appear strikingly similar to the days after the quake. Tent cities fill the capital and many corners of the countryside all around. Only a fraction of the $5.3 billion pledged by the world has actually been delivered. And Haitians themselves remain distrustful of anyone's ability to improve their lot - foreign powers, the United Nations or their own leaders. Especially their own leaders.
Vines and other greenery have started to grow on top of the rubble that remains.  In fact, as I begin to dig a little deeper, it's hard to escape the feeling that all of this has become the new normal... where ivy-covered rubble will be the imperfect foundation of whatever comes next; where progress will come with grand announcements and small steps.
It's certainly how many Haitians feel.

Follow Saša's return to Haiti on Twitter, and watch for Sasa's reports from Haiti on The National later this month.

See more of our coverage of Haiti's earthquake by Saša Petricic and others in our Archive, and most recently in our In Depth feature Haiti: Six Months Later.