Haiti chérie : a tale of a journey to the country that Trump treats the hole with shit
Monday, January 15, 2018 08:00
Monday, January 15, 2018 08:00
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Haiti, it is exotic for everyone, I believe.
They say to me : “Tahiti, you mean? H-A-Ï-T-I? It is dangerous, right? But why are you going there? A report on a disaster? The building of an orphanage?”
– “Ben, to…to travel…”, I answer by doubting myself.
Because if Haiti is this cousin that Quebec is so fond of, it is true that he does not often visit.
Coudon, is that Trump has reason to claim that this is only a hole to shit?
The flight is mostly composed of Quebecers of haitian origin. In particular, a few backpackers, a christian congregation, and two pairs of baby boomers “pure-laine” in the direction of the Decameron, the only all-inclusive in the country.
Three aircraft fly almost simultaneously on the tarmac of the airport Toussaint-Louverture. It is sufficient to create a mini-rush to customs.
At the exit, I see my host for the week Aly Acacia, that kids a smile: “This is your first adventure in haitian, get out of the airport!”
This ex-teacher has lived nearly 20 years in Quebec. Now a regular columnist for le Nouvelliste, the oldest newspaper in the country, Aly has also been launched in the tourism industry. He gets home, in the neighborhood of Delmas, visitors from all over the world.
I barely had time to drop my bags and me up for the front than a meal to me is served by its neighbour. The total : rice, sauce, peas, chicken, plantains, conch, sweet potato, avocado, pikliz, fresh juices and the list goes on.
Haiti is a country whose terrain is as mountainous as its plates. In Aly or with her friends, on the corner of a street or on a beach, we eat a lot and terribly much. The only meal fade from my journey will be my most expensive, in a resto-bar, american-style filled with foreigners in Pétion-Ville, the neighborhood staid in the capital. Classic.
One of my many meals during the week.
The image of gastronomy, Port-au-Prince is a city of generous, but also demanding.
It is a city where collide harmoniously all the expressions of the human experience. Extreme poverty meets intimately the opulence and lifestyle of those who go to their 9 to 5 in the tap-tap.
airmaria – stock.adobe.com
These buses and vans are the main means of transportation in the country.
The movement, with its signage almost non-existent, is an impressive organized chaos.
In Aly in Delmas, Port-au-Prince.
From the terrace of the home of Aly, I can hear the hustle and bustle of the street vibrate to the rhythms of kompa, rap and French songs. In addition to the shouts of joy of school children in uniform, the sermon of a pastor in van and the sighs of an old lady who carries on those shoulders the equivalent of my last five grocery stores.
The life is seeping from everywhere. It is mesmerizing. This is so beautiful.
Celebration voodoo the first of November.
Under my appearance of white-beak confused, I wander in the neighborhoods of the city. I flatters and photograph all the stray dogs that cross my path. Hard to get more tourist than that.
Rare passers-by I stare each other down, while several smiling at me and greet me warmly. “Hello!”
I addresses English or Spanish. When you realize that I am French, their creole is francise, my French is créolise, and we manage to understand each other.
When I stumble awkwardly in a crevice, a group of schoolgirls laughing and imitate my fall showing me the finger. Oddly, being laughed at so openly makes the exercise less humiliating. I laugh with them.
Traces of the January 2010 earthquake are still visible, but mingle with the buildings lined with art and colored signs beauty salons. If the Haitians have suffered their share of misfortunes, nothing will come probably at the end of their great look.
In a country where corruption is notorious, posters of candidates in the presidential elections of 2016 littering even the roads. Yet, the government seems to me to be absent from the daily life.
Event in November 2017.
This empty government seems to have the effect of politicizing the most mundane of conversations. A bit like when we discuss the Habs around the coffee machine, here, we speak constantly of his fervor for the country, infrastructure problems, of the past more glorious and young hopes.
Having to do elsewhere for the day, Aly confides to his neighbor Lochenet to accompany me to the famous museum Mupanah. I have the impression that the sidewalks are jam-packed with stories like hers. Lack of money, the young man has had to abandon his engineering studies. It is converted in a suit and acts as a guide for the residents of Aly. He is brilliant, educated, funny, and decidedly gentleman. In other climes, this might be me his driver.
Selfie with Lochenet at the Mupanah. The museum of haitian national pantheon.
The bustling Port-au-Prince is only a small part of what is the Pearl of the Antilles. To breathe a little, Aly led me in the mountains ennuagées to the south of the city to Kenscoff. The mercury drop, and it is the utter serenity. The kind of place where tibetan monks fileraient the perfect happiness.
Naïse, daughter Aly was born 2 days after the earthquake of 2010, and me in the mountains between two giggles.
To the west in Jacmel, a town with colonial architecture 170 000 inhabitants, the beaches, it is an Haiti more artistic and relaxed that unfolds. The streets are bustling, the atmosphere is festive, the sea is beautiful and the climate is inspiring.
Image taken during the festival of Jacmel in February 2017
In return, I pass through Blue Pond to dip and I meet a supporter of the Canadians.
When I asked him, he seemed not too concerned with the performance of the team.
Destination Petit Goave, an area that has seen a rise in Dany Laferrière, less touristy and more rustic than Jacmel.
In the morning, two boys took me out the door in the launch. By the way, we buy a few taken by a fisherman on his canoe. On the beach almost deserted, a group of young women make the party as we prepare all our fish. I could not have asked for more poetic to savor this moment as my cold beer “Prestige” and a cigarette “As it should”.
Later, I meet the girls from the beach to the disco bleed-through of the main street. Some customers are unhappy to see me in flip-flops and shorts despite the dress code, but my new friends don’t’t care. They don’t care rather my swaying stiffs and my inability to bear heat.
The drag is as lascivious as modest. The extremes do not cease to waltz in this beautiful country.
At lunch, one of the girls interrupts me while I give my impressions of a traveller, and she exclaims : “ah ben toé my crrrriss, that is it, you know”. Needless to say, the Haitian have mastered the art of teasing and imitation.
So in the end, is that it is dangerous? I have nothing seen more ominous than in any country grappling with major problems of poverty. It is to be careful and travel wisely.
Is what I advise to visit Haiti? Without hesitation. However, if you avoid the few chic hotels and areas of hyper-tourism, you must have a minimum of an adventurous spirit.
Yes, it is tough to see a kid who begs to eat them. But we retain the first of Haiti, a people proud, resourceful, friendly, helping.
It is spectacular scenery and a rich culture.
This is the first black independent, illegitimately in debt of billions of dollars by the French masters she bravely sacred outside in 1804.
In the background, when Trump talks about Haiti, the only shithole in question, it is his valve.
Air Transat flight: 480$ (I was lucky, the prices are normally higher)
Cost of accommodation, activities and meals for 7 days and 7 nights : a$ 1000. The whole thing was organized by Aly and may vary depending on the number of people and activities.
Accommodation, meals, and guide to Port-au-Prince : The White Terrace Facebook and website
Accommodation Jacmel : Hotel Colin’s
Accommodation Petit Goave : Hotel Fort Royal