The smells of Haiti (or Port-au-Prince and perhaps all the cities and big towns here) are charcoal from the cooking fires, the water smell that I’m not used to, and the cement used for all the building here.
People make cooking fires in the street at night and on the sidewalks during the day. The men who fix tires have fires to heat up whatever they are working with. Young guys make little fires in the middle of the street just for the hell of it at night.
Our PaP guesthouse is quiet and the people are very nice. The house is set a ways back off the street behind a big, locked gate. It’s a real retreat from the insanity outside (nice insanity, but because it’s all so unfamiliar to me it feels crazy).
The preachers here yell at the congregation. It’s brain-washing, pure and simple. Dictatorship. Bullies who weaken people (especially children) with their verbal and emotional assaults. (Did I write this already?) Their message is “Numb your mind. Don’t think. Just have faith.” People with no education are very vulnerable to these deranged idiots. I am so angry at these men; they are exactly like the ayatollahs in Muslim countries. Men seeking power over women and all life. It’s disgusting.
A big word here that I see painted on everything–it’s the slogan on the front of some tap-taps to and the name of many stores–is PATIENCE. Boy, if any people are patient it’s the Haitians.
On the street women sell food cooking in huge pots over fires. They try to charge me ridiculous prices for food, and I have learned to just laugh at them, say “Trop cher!” (too expensive!), and move on. Everyone around laughs when I do this (they are already staring at me so they see the whole interaction) because I have outsmarted the smarties.
Women winnowing rice in the mountains. They have big flat baskets (sieves) and they throw the grains up in the air; on the ground all around them are large cloths (?) covered with rice. The rice paddies are hand-cultivated by men in tall black boots. All manual labor here (a few exceptions) is done by hand.
More tap-tap slogans: “Amour Divine,” “Dieu est Amour,” and “Big Family.”
I saw lots of pigs up in the mountains. All the domesticated food-animals are tied up where there’s lots of greenery for them to chomp on. Saw a few thatched roofs. No fake smiles here; very genuine. People aren’t always thinking about how they look to others, like we do in the US. Small, busy market town where all the houses and many stalls are made of old truck trailers. Many rivers (low now) running through the mountains.
Saw a UN tank rolling down Cap’s main street with uniformed and helmeted armed (all white?) soldiers sticking out from each (whatever the entry/exit holes are called). Saw a UN helicopter in the mountains.
Eighteen-wheelers carrying hundreds of bags of garlic and onions with people sitting atop them. This is not a culture of haters; the people are mostly non-violent and non-confrontational (they will fight, at least verbally, if pushed). Not mean-spirited people. Creative people with group-awareness. They work together, and doing favors for others (even for me, a white and thus perceived to be rich and an oppressor) is natural.
Home of a plethora of dick-grabbing men. Donkey trotting alone alongside the road carrying a big load of bananas. Lush, green rolling hills. Absolutely no hitchhikers. Few private cars; tap-taps are always full to bursting. Graves are above ground with little “houses” atop them (just like in New Orleans).
A little boy was just crying “OH, WOE, OH WOE, OH WOE…” for at least 5 minutes in the alley beneath my window. No one seemed to come to comfort him. He was really crying hard and using a sound I’ve never heard before. Finally, someone said something to him that sounded like, “Stop it” (in Kreyol), but I don’t know. The little one went out into the street, still sobbing loudly.