Pretend you speak French. No matter how bad your French grammar skills are. Look at people in the eyes and say Le pour La all they want. Your charm will blind them from your crappy French. Then continue speaking in Creole…
When car-less in Haiti and someone from your NEIGHBORHOOD offers to give you a ride or “woulib” to Petion-Ville, DO NOT say no because you never know how long it will take to get a kamyonèt (public transportation).
I made it! For a year…so far. December 28th is the date that was marked on my one way ticket to Haiti. It was the first day of this new life. I really do not want to give the impression that this move has been easy, it hasn’t. Moving from one town to another is not easy, moving from one country to another is less so, moving from a first world to a “developing” world is hard. On Decemer 28th, I didn’t just leave New York but I left a life there. I left a job, I left my best friends, I left my social circle, I left my routines and habits, I left my family, I left part of me. I lived in New York for nearly 13 years, it was all I knew as a growing adult. Haiti is where I went for vacation and a country that took over my thoughts when I was not there. The difficulties I expected coming in were not really what I had to face in reality. The details and small things were the obstacles. It is not easy living in Haiti but I am surviving.
Do not move to Haiti unless you really absolutely love it. My love for Haiti is what keeps me here, despite the difficulties, the lack of comfort at times, the frustrating social happenings, the intolerant people, the bootleg politics, the plain misunderstanding, I WANT to be here. I can live anywhere in the world, I can, but Haiti is where I want to be. Yes there were downs and uncertainties but there have been many ups as well. Haiti has a way to teach you to focus on the important things, you have so much time to think that you can’t help but reach the bottom of your soul.
I haven’t loved every minute of living here, I would be lying if I said so. Things like finding a place to live, transportation, not finding my niche, frustration caused by political environment, earthquakes have not overshadowed getting closer to my family, learning to work in a new environment, meeting a wonderful person, making some brilliant friends and my sense of freedom because I AM HOME. Loving Haiti is not logical but it feels right, isn’t happiness all about feeling right? Well, I’m almost there! I am one step closer to finding my happiness.
I am now fully employed and I’m on super work mode. Tonight I left work at 8 and tomorrow (Christmas Eve!!!!) I work half of the day. Its exciting though, I really like the initial excitment at a new job, when even if you are stressed you feel productive.
Tomorrow night, I will have a nice quiet dinner with my mom, brother and the boo.
On the 28th of December, I will have exactly 1 year since I decided to move to this crazy little island, Haiti. For that, I will start posting photos from the past year to re-live this hectic year along with you. What do you think? :-)
I’m perpetually tuned in to Signal FM radio station here in Haiti. During hard times in Haiti, I prefer to listen to them because their work is extremely professional and they are a very well-balanced media source. Tonight the host did on a moral opinion piece about Haiti’s self-destruction. In this speech, he told young Haitians wanting to leave Haiti, that there were people in the diaspora working really hard, some doing extremely humiliating work. This reminded me of the time I met the “littlest woman in the world”.
In 1997, when I left Haiti for New York, we lived in Manhattan. The only interaction that my sister and I had with other Haitians were with my father and his clients. We had no Haitian friends, we rarely spoke Creole to anyone despite not speaking English, we CRAVED Haitian food; long story short, we were completely cut off from Haiti. One day, our family went to the San Gennaro festival, an annual festival in Little Italy. We were excited, street food, people, music, lights and ….the littlest woman on earth. We absolutely had to see her, my sister and I. How small could she have been? She was hidden! She must have been as tiny as a doll. So we went in! We walked through a wooden dark alley, and at the end was an older little lady sitting on a throne like chair. She was small, but definitely not the smallest woman on earth. My sister and I quickly started commenting in our comfortable Creole and to our surprise Littlest Woman on Earth answered! In Creole! You have to understand how mind-blowingly big this was for us. A real life Haitian, and she was famous in the circus. We started speaking to her, things weren’t clear and I also don’t remember the details, her family apparently sent her away with this man who paraded her as the “littlest woman on earth”, did she make a lot of money? We asked, she said no. I don’t remember how we said our goodbyes, but I remember being so happy, happy for us AND happy for her. She was famous! And she was HAITIAN! We ran to tell our dad, who understandingly wasn’t as amazed as we were. Then we continued on our road to get Italian sausages and corn on the cob. It wasn’t until much later as a much wiser socially counscious young teen, that I understood how horrible and humiliating this littlest lady had it. She left Haiti for a better life in the states, only to be paraded around the country as a circus freak, a freak of nature.
It angers me to think that the Haitian leaders for many many decades, have been so careless to allow the children of Haiti to seek happiness elsewhere only to be humiliated, deceived, overworked and vilified as immigrants. Their actions (or lack there of) have caused this! Over and over and over! And there will be many many Littlest Women in all shapes and forms as long as our Haitian leaders keep being so conscience-less, self-serving and irresponsible.
(I apologize, it seems like Tumblr ate this post from earlier, I’m reposting it)
Protests have turned violent. Some cases of confrontation between Martelly supporters and Celestin supporters. Most of the country’s major towns were blocked yesterday. Today there’s relative peace. All political address to nation from ALL sides call for peaceful mobilization. People have run out of food, money and can’t get to central towns. No conclusion, no answers to our many questions, no apparent leadership. Yet, many many people are still dying from Cholera. Sad moment for every single Haitian who loves Haiti.
The elections will go on to second rounds with Mirlande Manigat and Jude Celestin.
The people are angry, they say they did not vote for Celestin. Mostly Michel Martelly supporters are out in the streets. There is chaos, tires being burned, fires, shootings. I am not sure there is one person who’s satisfied with the results besides Manigat and Celestin. President Preval is nowhere to be found, rumored to be in the Dominican Republic. The American Embassy released a note to the press publicly disagreeing with the preliminary results. The Haitian elections soap opera is to be continued…
The election results are supposed to be posted around 6 PM. It is now 5:18 and there is chaos in several areas in Port-au-Prince. There are reports of gun shots and rocks thrown. Most people are looking for a route home but some are just waiting for the results to be given…
I’m up early this morning, how early? Too early. Today is supposed to be the day the election results are posted. Who will win? Will there be a second round? With whom? There is a tense sensation all around Haiti right now. We know that with certain results, violence is inevitable. I have that awful churning feeling in my stomach, as if today’s result will determine Haiti’s future success. It’s like waiting for college admission letters. But just like college admission, these election results does not guarantee either success or failure. We are all hoping that whatever path was chosen for us (let’s be real, the elections were sham) will lead to a better Haiti. A better more liberated Haiti!