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7218: Some ramblings (fwd)

From: Jedidiah <his_voidness@yahoo.com>

I have been in Hayti for more than three weeks now
and have a few observations that I would like to

The Valentines day party at Laurie's place was nice.
It was strange to be around so many blan.

I have attended two sporting events, one in st Marc
at the new sportif recreation center between two high
school basketball teams. This new center is very nice
and one of the few things to do in town besides the
movies. I had not been to a high school sporting event
since I was a sophomore in l'ecole myself.

In Cap Haitian I attended a futbol game between team
St Marc and Okap. The half way point arrived with
a zed-zed tie. Early in the second half team Okap
scored. I saw a few fouls which did not get noticed
by the referee, unless grabbing a player with your
hands and spinning him around are new innovations
that I was not aware of.

At the very end of the game team St Marc scored to
thunderous applause from the stands that I was next
to. For some reason which I could not figure out the
goal was ruled out. I'd really like to see that
replay. I guess they don't have that here. Hehe.

The football stadium in Okap is a total wreck right
close by the cemetery. I wouldn't be surprized if
skeleton parts washed onto the field during floods.

Oh, it is on the road which leads to Hotel Beck, which
I visited a few days later on my new moto. The Beck
is a very nice place, contrary to all the reports
I have seen in journals and guide books. It is above
the mosquito zone, unlike Roi Christophe, which gave
me malaria in October.

I went to the Cinema in St Marc also, with four filles
from the neighboorhood. All of them under 20 years
The film which we saw is apparently playing all over
the country right now, a Haitian film named 
"Puer d'Aimee" or something like that. It is shot and
displayed on video, but is of quite good quality
in acting and image. This is the second domestic
film I've seen. Last year I saw a thriller about
a crusading jounalist who exposes the drug kingpins
in PauP and has his girlfriend murdered and himself
left for dead, he is picked up out of the garbage
dump by a back country sage who nursed him back to
health and made him into Jacki Chan.

Getting into the theater in St Marc was terrifying.
We waited outside the theater in a large well behaved
throng. The front of the theater has a wide entrance,
but all of it is locked off with iron bars except for
a one meter opening. Probably less than a meter.

As soon as an announcement was made that clients were
to be admitted the crowd turned into maniacs, jamming
to get to the front of the line. When we did get
inside it was worse, as there was another door to get
thru and this one had a ticket taker who was quite
irritated at this uncivilized behaviour.

Everyone was in their best dress, but jammed together
like a Tokyo subway and trying to push forward. 
It is amazing that people are not killed in these
lines. I had to lift two small women up to keep
them from falling under the feet of the crowd and
the gro neg were not happy that I was not pushing

Some quiet observations on the political situation
before I forward on the travel report which I sent
to my sister.

It does appear to me that folks are much more
less angry than on earlier visits. Lape nan Tet does
in fact seem to be taking place. There are fewer
arguments on the tap tap and in the market and I
haven't seen any new "Aba whoever" signs this trip.
A lot of folks at Kanaval were wearing US flag
head coverings, which I did not recall from earlier
visits. I don't know if this is related or not.

People are putting up Aristide pictures everywhere.
Is this orchestrated in contravention of the
Constitutional prohibition against personality
cults? It doesn't seem obviously so, but I did see
a very nice T shirt with a picture of gwotid
and Feb 7, 2001 commemorating the event. It was
given to her, I assume by a party operative.

She wouldn't let me take her picture tho. Too bad.

The roads in Okap are vastly improved, actual Haitians
are even doing the work. The road between L'estere
and Gonaive is being worked on by actual haitians
also. THey are putting rock and dirt into asphalt
grinding machines and putting down good dirt
layers. I heartily approve. It could easily have
been done in 1995 of course, but lets not quibble.
So, here is my highway report

--- My sister Pamela wrote:
> > thanks for writing from boston, have been hoping
> to hear from you in haiti,
> > how's it goin?
> Mouin arrivee yeswa de St Marc. I took the bus ( tap
> tap actually ) from
> st Marc on tuesday morning. With my cousin ti-dwens.
> Daniella's brother.
> I call him my cousin. The french pronunciation of
> male cousin. Kousann.
> Yesterday was his 19th birthday so I took him to Cap
> Haitian with me
> for a present. Also to have someone to travel with.
> It can be difficil.
> It took 8 hours to travel the 150 kilometers to Cap
> Haitienne. The first two
> hours were to go 25 klicks or so to L'Estere. Most
> of that was at a fast
> walking pace. About like a horses trot. A horse
> would have been more
> comfortable. The truck was a big box delivery van
> with holes cut in 
> the sides for windows. It was not crowded, about 10
> people inside where
> I am used to 40 or 50 in a similar space. 
> In L'Estere we had to wait for an hour for the tap
> tap to leave. It was
> full when we got there. I don't understand these
> waits really. The driver
> would make more money by leaving earlier and leaving
> room in the truck
> to take more people along the way. Less wear and
> tear on the truck
> would result also. That truck was a toyota diesel
> pickup. Ti-Dwens and
> I rode in the cab for an extra fare. The back would
> be more comfortable
> if you could stand up, but its too crowded.
> Our driver was, thankfully, a sane one. Also the
> engine was not powerful 
> enough to go up the mountain in any gear but first.
> So, five hours from L'Estere through Gonaive, over
> the mountain to Okap.
> Having the trip thru the mountains be so slow was
> nice, as I could appreciate
> the change in cultural atmosphere when cresting the
> chaine du nord.
> Climatic atmosphere as well. The countryside in the
> north is much less dry,
> and the farmers don't burn the hillsides down to get
> chabon. They don't need
> to do so for money I guess, as their little lakou
> are pretty and productive.
> The valley of Plaisance ( plezans in kreyol ) is a
> lovely place and when one
> finally comes upon the town itself the road is lined
> with little country 
> houses, ancient but clean. No garbage in the streets
> even. The Lakay voudou
> ( as I call the country houses ) are tiny little
> things with two full height
> french doors in each wall. They serve as windows as
> well, and half of the
> house basically disappears when all the doors are
> open.
> The driver showed us the various places where trucks
> and busses had driven
> off the side of the mountain. One little village had
> a gasoline tanker
> upside down on the outside of the curve, about 50
> feet down the mountain
> on top of two country houses. Two peyisans died
> under it. They probably
> cut off the head of the chauffer. That is a frequent
> penalty for fatal
> traffic accidents.
> Some new architectural standards become apparent
> when crossing the chaine du
> nord as well. Some of the peasant houses are wider
> than they are deep, with
> the front wall having an inset section in the
> middle, creating a little patio
> on the front of the house. Its only about 4 or 5
> feet deep, but its a shady
> place to sit in front of the house and greet the
> strolling neighbors. There
> are then three or four tall french doors across the
> front of the house
> instead of two. I guess the house would then be
> about 20 feet wide instead
> of 12.
> I looked more closely at the farming practices this
> trip, made easier by
> the slow speed of our ascent and ( thankfully )
> descent. They are planting
> little hedges on the sides of the hills to form
> terrace. I spoke with a 
> Dutch agronomist at Lauri Bushey's valentines day
> party in Petionville.
> He says that his whole staff is haitian, works for
> some church group.
> He told me that they were teaching the hedge
> planting thing, which I had
> not noticed before. Most of the mountains south of
> the Artibonite and north
> of Port au Prince ( that I see going betwen PauP and
> St Marc ) are
> basically dead, completey denuded with exposed
> bedrock. Since they cannot
> grow food upon it the pov repeatedly burn it off for
> chabon from whatever
> manages to struggle forth.
> Last sunday the hills to the north of the Baie de St
> Marc erupted in 
> sudden fire. They are 3 or 4 kilometers away from
> Charite's lakay and
> look completely barren and brown from that distance.
> That side of the
> bay faces south of course. The southern side, which
> faces north, is much
> greener, altho hardly any large trees exist there
> either.
> Anyway, those hillsides which look empty and brown
> from that distance
> flamed up with a very energetic forest fire. I could
> see flames from
> that distance, peeking out of the black clouds of
> smoke. 8 hours later
> the fire was still burning in the night, making its
> way up the hill to
> the few struggling trees upon the top of the ridge.
> My sister Telisean says that no one owns that land.
> Which means, I guess,
> that it has been abandoned for a long time due to
> being logged off and
> unproductive for farming. So, the moun pov just use
> it for burning off
> to get bags of charcoal which they sell for some
> pittance. 
> They could actually cut down the trees that they
> want and make 
> charcoal fires in their pits, but they get greedy
> and lazy and 
> just set a forest fire. A little bit of rain fell
> that night, luckily.
> Charite stopped using the alcohol/kerosene stove
> which I bought her
> in October. It is too complicated for her to use.
> The timing of the
> vaporization process is important. Telisean uses
> hers perfectly, but
> its too complicated for Charite. So, she just bought
> a recho BiP
> ( propane stove ) out of the $500 US that I gave
> her. They are foolproof
> and basically indestructible. You can turn them all
> the way up also,
> and they don't go to yellow flame. The older
> kerosene stoves with wicks
> like Sylvia used in Kenya have to be adjusted to a
> blue flame. That was
> beyond Daniella, who spoke 5 languages. She turned
> it all the way up
> to make it hotter, which of course made it colder
> and give off toxic smoke.
> ***********
> Hm, I've spent 50 minutes replying to one email.
> I'll go now.
> Oh, since this turned into a big travel report, I
> cc'd it to a number
> of
> folks.

J David Lyall,
AKA His Voidness, or Soy Devoid

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