A film of dust covers anything that hasn't moved, it chokes the air. Frequent piles of rubble radiate a smell that defies description but is unforgettable.
Some bodies lie beneath, the rubble tagged with a ghoulish script "Bodies in Here. Please Help". Some lie in plain sight, too dangerous to recover, bloating and cooking in the sun.
Their shape so fluid that it takes a moment to register that just a week ago this form was flesh and blood and had thoughts and feelings, a family, a job, a car and a house.
Desensitised or too hungry or tired to see, people walk past with as much purpose as they can muster. Vacant eyes abound.
It's a week on.
The bodies are still being discovered and hope has all but fled that any more people will be pulled alive from the rubble.
The streets are full; there's traffic on the road, but it speeds across the sprawling broken city. The mosquitoes are breeding relentlessly, bringing with them disease.
Roadside, frequent torrents where pipes burst taunt the thirsty population. Bus stops with their little roofs become a staging point for three generations of one family on their way to nowhere in particular.
There's nowhere to go. Trucks loaded with all the families possessions -- a tricycle, a dresser, some chairs, a rug and ten or 12 people chug up and down hills, but you sense they're just driving until the diesel runs out.
The buses out of the city to some of the areas less affected, to the safety of family and a new home, have ramped up their prices by a factor of five.
The economics of recovery are staggering. To get Haiti back to where it was before the earthquake will take billions, but that's only restoring a status quo that left millions in extreme poverty.
The gangs roaming and looting were doing that before the city fell and will do it after the restoration begins unless Haiti undergoes an economic miracle.
One taxi driver I spoke to had seven children and no food. His house crushed his car. He has no money to buy a new one.
He asked "what can I do, what's happened has happened". He'd made a choice to get on with living.
At the airport the arrival of the Americans only served to immediately increase tension.
Swarms of people had come directly looking for help which no one there was equipped to give. One showed me his hands and said: "I need to work," pleading for a day's pay, a meal, a purpose. The terrible cliche of "get busy living or get busy dying" never made so much sense.
Another man, his mask hanging from his mouth, almost toothless and aged asked if they can ring me when they need help -- "when the children are sick or dying can we call you?"
They were angry that no one had come to their help, angry that the government have given them no information or direction and they'd survived a week without food -- "not a morsel of water".
Very close to the epicentre of the earthquake they said they sang and prayed each night because there was nothing else they could do.
Visiting the Presidential Palace, I stumbled across United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon's entourage.
He appeared stunned, dazed by the destruction he had seen, as he approached a group of young men at the rails and said: "Do not give up hope, I am here to bring hope."
He's no Obama, though, and within seconds there were dissenting voices unafraid of the taut security around the Secretary General.
"We need AID", "We need food", which quickly became "F**K YOU, F**K YOU".
The situation wasn't entirely in the control of the security and suddenly a spin doctor is talking in the ear of the translator about getting him out of here - "these are just young thugs", he said.
Ban Ki-Moon can't bring hope -- only money and human support can.
But the people of Haiti need it soon because patience is wearing thin.
Listen to Ger Gilroy's Haiti reports on Newstalk 106-108