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#4777: Re: #4774: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Style Lakay-- Saut D'eau (fwd)


Key words: Saut D'Eau, Vierge Miracle, Ville Bonheur

To Dr. Gina Ulysse:

I remember when I was a child growing up in Haiti, every year my neighborhood 
in Port-au-Prince got into a frenzy about Saut D'Eau. The buzz was who was 
going to travel to Saut D'Eau, when will they go, for how long, etc..I would 
just listen and imagine what it was all about, for my maternal grandmother 
with whom I usually was in the summer would never agree to go there, let 
alone let me go with the trusted neighbors. For her, Saut D'Eau and the 
accompanying celebration was simply too voudouesqe and anti-Christian. 

Fortunately I had the opportunity to visit Ville Bonheur for the first time 
last year and I saw for myself what it is all about: a religious "fete 
champet", a regional open sky party. I enjoyed the whole thing thoroughly 
although I would think twice about going there again anytime soon. The idea 
of breathing, living, walking, and partying in the ever present mud is not 
exactly my cup of tea. The whole place could use a little modernization. How 
about some "adokin" to pave the streets a la Petit Goave, Lully and some 
other villages in Haiti. That would enhance the place and make it a little 
more attractive. 

What can be wrong with development, with a little modernization? Imagine 
getting sick at that place! No telephone, no drinking water, no electricity 
after 8 PM (summer 1999), no bank, no rapid transportation back to 
Port-au-Prince and the airport, insecurity (zinglindo ambushes) on the road 
through Morne Cabrit and do not get lost and take the road that goes through 
Titanyen, please. Do you think the Vierge Miracle would do a miracle and get 
one out of there quickly? If development arrives at Saut D'Eau, the locals 
will be the ones with the hegemonic $ and the private gated properties 
welcoming "dyas" (I hate that diaspora word with passion) bringing them more 

Everything being relative, how is the farmer from whom your relatives rented 
being poor when he has two dwellings to rent and he occupies two other 
dwellings? How would hotels and restaurants infringe upon the "rent a donkey 
business", candles and soap bars businesses. 

I had the opportunity to observe residents of the town washing meat in the 
canal that goes through part of the town. People up stream bath in the canal, 
people do their thing in the canal,  so do animals, the canal is made of 
dugged up dirt and still the locals use the water to wash goats', pigs' 
intestines destined for consumption at the various makeshift food stands. 
Yes, everyone could use a few sanitary restaurants at Ville Bonheur. My buddy 
and I resorted to eating the food at night and in semi darkness. We did not 
really want to see what we were eating. We resorted to fruits, bottled water, 
crackers, peanut butter, jelly, imodium, all brought up with us from 
Port-au-Prince and ate as little as possible the cooked food available. 

Development does not put guns to people's head and force them to sell their 
land. Those who own and proudly cultivate their land will continue to do so 
if that is what they want to do. Those who want to sell will sell for the 
reasonable price of their land and what the market will bear. 

"Saut D'Eau is about pilgrimage and hence requires some real experience of 
hardship"? It does not have to be so. See Lourdes in France. 

Did you visit the part of town (Nan Palmiste) on the side of the mountain 
where all the vodou ceremonies are performed? where charlatans of all sorts 
claim to be houngans, bokors, mambos and what have you, speaking in tongues? 
Did you pray at Kafou trois chemins at the entrance of town? 

Ah! Saut D'Eau, where catholics and vodouissants worship openly, together, 
side by side. What Vierge Miracle does not grant you, Erzulie surley will. 

It was fun, I will visit again (with my boots next time) but first on to 
Gelee at Aux Cayes.