As usual it’s been a long time since I wrote something and a lot has happened since. Currently I am at my cousin’s apartment in Santiago, Dominican Republic where I’ve been having a chill time. Santiago is a much laid back town compared to the go go go pace of Santo Domingo. My other cousin lives in Santo Domingo and I will be leaving on Thursday to go spend the rest of my time in the DR with her. I am currently on my “R&R” from work. I had been going back and forth on what to do for my much needed week off. I was playing with the idea of going to Brazil with a friend of mine, but it was too rushed and ticket prices were like 8 billion dollars. I am happy I am here though spending time with family and really just turning my brain off.
Originally, I wanted to spend the weekend in Port-au-Prince to see the famo and then catch a flight or bus to the DR. However, due to the elections and more importantly the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide I was not able to enter the capital. The org I work for felt it was not safe for me or anyone for the US staff to venture away from the main headquarters. I even had to leave my local residence. Was it necessary? I guess. Who knows? So far the elections have gone smoothly. Aristide came, gave his mumbo jumbo speech and the county, and thank god is not on fire yet. So since I was unable to head to the capital I had to get to the DR by other means. So at 7:30am last Friday I was driven to the border town of Elias Pina in the Dominican Republic. The road to Elias Pina starts off pretty smooth. If you are leaving from the central plateau, you cross through Lascahobas and into Belladaire. The roads in Belladaire are complete junk. It’s like driving on rocks and you basically pick which hole you want to fall into. The driver who took me who is also head of dispatch for the org had the local radio station going. The radio show was focusing on how local politicians never do much for residents of Belladaire. Once we get to the border of the DR you automatically know you are no longer in Haiti. The roads are paved, the people are speaking Spanish and there are trees. This is my 3rd time in the DR and while I have had a great time so far with my cousins, I am mad EH on the DR. It’s a beautiful island with beautiful women. The government, private sector or whoever has done a good job of maintaining the roads and investing into the country. Haiti can learn a few things on this end. However, Dominicans are racist as all hell. Ask a Dominican in the DR if they think they’re black and see what they tell you.
The blatant acts of racism started when I got to customs. After I was done paying a 20 dollar fee for entering the country (it should have been $5) me and the driver had to talk to someone to see if he could drive me the bus station. This dude refused to let us do so because it was “market day” and he was “afraid we’d run over someone”. Now while this might sound like viable excuse, I didn’t buy it. Even people outside of the office who I told what was said to me and driver didn’t buy it. The driver who is maddd chill told me to let it slide and I took a mototaxi to the bus station. After I get to the bus station and dap up the driver and thank him for everything I get on the Guagua. Que es un guagua? A guagua is a bus that is used by the general public to get around cities and the country. It’s cheaper than a coach bus, but probably not as safe. They are usually packed to the brim and the drivers are a bit wild. I’d compare them to TapTaps in Haiti or imagine Fung Wah but like worse. Once we took off I just prepared myself for a long ride in the back of a GuaGua. Little did I know that the bus would be stopped over and over again for passport checks? Literally every 20 min for the first 2 hours of the trip, the bus was stopped. Border patrol, the police or whatever they were would come on the bus and point out the Haitians and dark skinned Dominicans who they think were Haitian to show passports. This happened at least 10 times and each time it was worse. What makes shit worse is that the people performing these searches were far from smart. Twice I was asked to get off the bus to explain what was in my passport. I have visas from different countries and they took it for me having a fake passport. One guy was starting at my Malian visa and asking me what it was. I literally took my passport from him and opened it to the first page and showed it to him. What was really sad is that some of the border cops were dark as all hell and they still feel the need to hand pick the Haitians and the Dominicans who were a little too Moreno for their liking. This experience has left a sour taste in my mouth. Despite the fact that Haitians and Dominicans share the same island, we have shit else in common. A lot of tight ass aeropostale t-shirts and tight jeans. Dominicans consider Haitians to be the lowest of the low. My cousin was getting her hair done and I waited for her after I got my haircut. The lady who does the pedicures was smiling at me a lot and I was like oh shit! (smile back licking lips). She asks my cousin if I’m her man and my cousin is like uh no that’s my cousin. So she starts to ask me where I’m from. I tell her I was born in NYC, but my family is Haitian. She tells me “You’re Haitian? But, you’re too cute to be Haitian.”. Annnnnd done.
After spending a week there I definitely would live in the Santo Domingo over Santiago. While Santiago is nice, it’s a little too slow for me. This is coming from the guy who lives in rural Haiti. Santo Domingo is a lot like Miami. There is a specific part to it that is very well developed where they have malls with Gucci, Prada and all that other nonsense. While that’s cool and all, I was more impressed with their roads. Despite the blatant acts of racism that Dominicans use on Haitians, I can say that I wish Haitians invested in Haiti the way Dominicans invest in the DR. We don’t need malls, but roads, trees and decentralization would be nice.
So at the midway point of the trip, the oppression mobile stopped at a rest stop for bathroom and food. I was hungry as hell and decided to get some Chicharron (deep fried pork belly). Yo, I don’t know what I was thinking. The minute I bit into it I know I made a grave mistake. They gave me 4 and I hate 1.5. The next 3 days were epically horrible. I seriously thought I had cholera. Thank God I didn’t. Never again will I eat a Chicharron from the street. Minus 10 for Joel.
So about 4 years ago in Haiti, this even called Bingo Night took the country by storm. So much that the host Kako Bourjolly travels to places where there are a lot of Haitians (NYC, Boston, Miami, Santiago). It’s more like a gong show. He makes people get on stage and either strut their shit or make complete fools of themselves. December 08 unfortunately I was one of the people who made a fool of himself. Anyways they give away prizes, crack jokes, play all types of new and old hits. The theme in Santiago was Karnaval because the one in Haiti this year was not very well welcomed due to people still living in tents. It was a lot of fun and I danced my ass off. I know more Haitian songs that I thought, I surprised myself. Speaking of which, I’m on a Konpa (genre of Haitian music) binge and can’t get enough of it.
Swedish House Mafia
One of the highlights of my trip to the DR was going to this House concert by this group called Swedish house Mafia. I don’t listen to house music, but my cousin, her man and her friends were all going so I tagged along. Incredible. I fist pumped for about 4 hours, but it was a wild wild time. I need to learn Spanish. I hate not being able to properly communicate with people. “Yo habla un poquito pero yo quero hablar much”. Fuck.
Anyways, despite having access to hot water, smoothly running internet and el krispy kreme donuts I missed the shit out of Haiti. What can I say, it’s home now. I came back and kissed the cook on the cheek and promptly ate my plate of rice beans and poule pays.
I promise for pics soon….