I am ready to leave Haiti. I’m very glad I came, but a month here is enough for me. I have only seen Port-au-Prince (and a tiny bit of Cap-Haitien) which is full of suffering people, poverty and ugliness.
I knew when I came here that it wouldn’t be easy. Did I write about the recent three days without water or electricity? And four days without internet. Ah, well, it’s Haiti.
It’s Sunday and the maniac preacher is yelling from the churches on one side of us. Haiti has the most truly insane preachers I have ever heard, but the people LOVE them! These preacher men work the crowd up to a fever pitch! They yell, “Alleluia!!” They sing (badly, dismally, not joyfully), and the faithful applaud.
I’ve been so disgusted with this deranged behavior coming from our neighborhood psycho-preachers that I have “unfriended” two people on my Facebook page who are militant, ugly (as are all fanatical fundamentalists), religious bigots who want to proclaim their religion and their god as the best and only god. UGH! I’ve just had enough of those people; I don’t want their preaching and their weirdness in any part of my life.
A woman who lives off the alleyway below my window is a real fighter. She can yell for a couple of hours. She loves to fight! Is she, I wonder, the same mean, angry woman who repeatedly slaps her sad, angry, little child, making him cry and yell even louder? After yelling (at someone who wasn’t much of a fighter) for an hour yesterday, this woman suddenly broke into song! Soon, the fight was on again.
The sunset is beautiful from the roof of the guesthouse. Ilona calls it “The Blue Hour.” It’s one of the only beautiful things I’ve seen here in Port-au-Prince.
The scene at the Petion-ville market is so rough and dangerous that I’m not going back there. Been there about four times, and, believe me, that’s enough!
I feel awkward and uncomfortable walking any of the streets around here, even in my quiet Jacquet toto neighborhood. 40% (Pia’s estimate) of the very rich people here are white, so we are hated, in general, as being the oppressor. But I walk straight and tall, with my shoulders back and my heart-area wide open; this way, I can literally FEEL the love in some of the people around me. I often say “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” to these people; people on the street invariably respond in a friendly way when I say hello to them.
It is often helpful to have an earphone in my ear and listen to local Kompa music when I go out on the street.
The women here approach me with hard, unfriendly faces that hide their true, friendly natures. When a man squeezed in beside a woman on a tap-tap, she gave him an exceptionally mean, angry look. But, with a word and a smile, the man got a friendly response from her. So, the women here have just learned over time to have a powerful, defensive front.
The internet doesn’t work if it’s cloudy and overcast here. It’s been off and on lately since winter is setting in.
Here’s a link to the drawings of Sebastian Loerscher of Berlin:
Sebastian has been here at the Port-au-Prince guesthouse for two months. No one speaks German in Haiti, so Pia is very glad to have Sebastian to talk with. Sebastian is teaching “Recording Graphics,” which is about drawing the news. His wonderful Haitian drawings are at the above address with “/blog” added to the end.
Later, I will put some Sebastian’s drawings and a photo of him in this post.
After three weeks here, I have adjusted a bit and feel relaxed. I have some idea of what to expect, both within the guesthouse and out on the streets.
This feels like a prison state to someone like me who lives to travel. Most of the people here have no chance of ever leaving Haiti; the country is run and owned by very wealthy people; and the majority of the people are very poor, uneducated, and illiterate.
New breezes are blowing through our yard. They have come to carry me away. I can feel, smell, and see other, faraway places.
I sat out on the street this morning in front of our gate on a wall. The area around me was littered with condom wrappers and old sachet dlo (small bags that held water). I wrote, took photos with my cell phone, and just observed; people said hello to me, “Bonjour,” for the first time without me saying it to them first. Lots of people just stare at me. Two cars drove by with white people in them.
Today, with the usual trepidation I feel before setting out alone on the street, I bought two, little, green peppers and a small carrot (25 goud) from a woman with a big, heavy, plastic basin on her head (her two friends smiled because I paid about 10 goud too much), two oranges (10 goud) from another heavily laden woman (her friend took out the oranges so the woman didn’t have to take the big container off her head), and three bananas for 10 goud from a woman in an open stall. All just a little ways down Jacquet or while sitting on the wall in front of the guesthouse gate. I got ripped off again, and it’s so easy to tell because the women always chuckle after pretending it’s all above-board, but I don’t care; the produce is good quality and still very cheap for me.
A few people have come up to me on the street asking for money (“Give me money.”). It’s natural and to be expected in such a poor country. I am the rich person here; I need the money I have to make it in the world outside Haiti, but they don’t understand this. I could live much cheaper if I didn’t want to travel or rent apartments, but I don’t want to live like that.
Haitian Kreyol (Creole) sounds just like African with many French words thrown in.
Spiders are busy everywhere and, unlike so many small, busy creatures around us, they leave their webs as evidence of their presence. Grandmother Spider is always weaving the web of the world. I see a web in the kitchen this morning. It was made during the night after Olivier’s party. It’s strung between a big, plastic Coca-Cola bottle and a small, dirty glass.
Little girls danced to American music (Justin Bieber [actually a Canadian], Nicki Minaj, etc.) at the party, and we ate lots of food (fried pieces of hot dogs, chips, cookies, popcorn, candy, Coke, wine, beer, pretzels, apple juice, and cake). Balloons and a “Happy Birthday” banner were strung up. About 20 people (mostly women and children) showed up. Natacha wore a beautiful, sparkly, bright red sari with white pants underneath; her beautiful, little adopted daughter, Kimberly (“Kimmie”) danced for Olivier and the adults wildly applauded her extraordinarily sexy moves.
The party was held in the evening out on the front patio, and I kept putting food behind my chair for the rat who comes out every night. I wonder if Wilson (“Wil-SON!”) swept it away before the rat could feast. The tops of the high walls around the guesthouse are lined with coils of barbed wire and broken bottles set into the cement of the walls.
When I bought my bread on Jacquet yesterday (30 goud [40 goud = $1 US]), the vendor, inside the walls and roof of his stall, inspected the 250 goud bill I gave him with tremendous attention, even pouring water on it and crumpling in his palm for a final inspection before hanging it up to dry. He gave me my change (220 goud), and, after I had put it away in my purse, he wanted the change back, so I gave it to him, and he recounted it before giving it back to me. Very mysterious
Starting at 4:30 am, he rooster crows from the tin roof next door.
What defines a Gypsy? Travel. The Romany and other people whose origins have been traced (through their language) to India have largely settled down all along their path through the world. They are no longer Gypsies in the actual sense of the word; they have stopped doing that which defines Gypsies: travelling.
I am always travelling around other travellers and some sedentary people, or I am travelling toward or away from all of them so I’m never very lonely.
Olivier gave me a nice, long hug yesterday after I gave him the crayons for his birthday present. We had lunch together, just the two of us; I shared my bread with him and gave him lots of cane sugar syrup from the jar up in the cabinet. I’ve eaten almost the whole jarful, and I don’t even know who it belongs to; maybe some traveller, passing through here, left it behind.
I am getting NO exercise here. Oh, well. In Puerto Rico or Jamaica, I will go to a gym again. And walk more.