I am currently writing from my desk in Mirebalais where I am based. It’s raining like CRAZY and the water is actually seeping into where I live. I think I have fully transitioned from the mountains of Cange to the more hustle and bustle of Mirebalais. Mirebalais has its own chaos where people are constantly moving from point A to point B. The block I live on is right next to HUGE Jehovah’s Witness house and down the block from the marketplace. All day long you hear people on moto taxi’s honking, goats’ baaahing and just people talking all types of shit. I like it here better than Cange because despite Cange’s beauty, it’s isolated and claustrophobic. Last night I spent the night in Cange because I had to see a patient. The patient was this 14 year old kid who broke his femur bone playing soccer in this joint program my org has with another one. We provide free health care for the kids in the program and day one this kid breaks his femur bone. I wanted to check in on him and his mom to make sure they were being seen and that they were in good spirits. I ended up spending the night because 2 of my friends live in Cange and they are leaving in May. As I have mentioned before they are my 2 ex-pat friends and are mad cool. It will be sad to see them go, but I think I’ve been preparing for it by not staying in Cange as much and trying to get used to being around Haitians 24/7. This has helped me really get used to working and living in Haiti full time. I have been here for about 10 weeks, which is already 2 weeks longer than I’ve ever been in Haiti. As a kid I would spend my summers here once school was out. School would be out June 21 and June 22 I’d be Haiti bound. I’d spend my 8 weeks with family and when it was time to leave I’d cry my ass off.
Working and living here is different ball game, but I’m enjoying it. However, for the last 3 weeks or so I have been on the move a lot. I was in the Dominican Republic for my week off and when I came back the amount of work to do was intense. The org works closely with a band Fire Crotch (not real name). They came for 4 days and while they were cool it was still exhausting to take them around. Their music is folksy rock? I had never heard of them before and I’m not into that type of music, but they were good. They were also pretty chill and didn’t act like superstars even though they apparently are popular in the states and Canada (even though I have no clue who they were). The first day they were here, I got to see them play live at one of the more posh hotels in Port au Prince called the Olofson. This is one of the oldest hotels in Port-Au-Prince and has an old colonial feel to it. The high up you go the doper the view of PaP gets. Anyways it was a weird scene because the majority of the people there were expats. It almost didn’t feel like I was in Haiti at that point, it felt more like Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Mad Ex-pat hipsters screaming to Fire Crotch’s music. It was really weird vibe and then after 2 rum punches, I pretty much pretended I was at a show in Williamsburg.
People go around and it’s basically “where you from, what org do you work for and what do they do?” It was really weird going around asking people that question all night long. It had the feeling of people just being here partying it up. Every Thursday the Oloffson has this Haitian band called Ram play. The music is dope, but the Oloffson is tailored to rich Haitians and Ex-Pats. They are the ones who can afford the cover and the price of the drinks, me included. Since I live in the Central Plateau, this type of lifestyle was new to me.
The next day I was up at 5am to catch a ride back to the Central Plateau. I basically got about 3 hours of sleep and had a ton of work to do and meetings to attend. Working on 3 hours sleep in NYC is not the same as working on 3 hours sleep in Haiti. I can’t function on 3 hours sleep in Haiti. I was a zombie. The rest of the week we took Fire Crotch around to play in random sights. Let me tell you, people in the US and Canada like folksy rock music. Haiti……yeah not so much. It was kind of cool to see this popular award winning band play in middle of nowhere Haiti and have people just staring at them. They were good sports about it found ways to get people like at least clap their hands. The last night they were in Haiti, they played at the main headquarters in Cange. I think that night has been the best night I’ve had in Haiti so far. They built a stage for Fire Crotch and Ram. First Fire Crotch played first and the Ram came on. Fire Crotch was cool, but when Ram came on people lost their minds in an orderly fashion for the most part. Ram plays kind of music called Rah Rah which has ties to Haitian roots music. Kind of like roots reggae but way more hyped up. The next morning reality hit in and I had to get back on my grind.
After Fire Crotch left, I had to get prepared for my trip to Miami for a Sustainable Haiti conference. Rural Haiti —-à South Beach, crazy transition. The convention was really good for 2 of the 3 days. I met a lot of dope groups that wish to do great work in Haiti. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. There are too many groups and people in Haiti who have some great idea they want to implement in Haiti. While many of the ideas are fantastic, Haiti doesn’t need a ton of people forcing their ideas on them. Many different groups had great ideas on sustainable agriculture that I really want my org to work with. But, to get real shit done you need to hit up the Minister of Agriculture and be like wassup killa? How about we make a plan and stick to it papi (or mami). Foreigners can’t be ones to come in and implement these ideas; the Haitian government needs to step their game up. Speaking of which Haiti has a new president, Michel Joseph Martelly aka “Sweet Micky”. He’s a former musician turned president. He called me on both of my phones today to thank me for voting for him. His campaigning was sick and people bought it. I hope he’s real.
What else was dope about South Beach? My king size bed in my hotel room. I have GOT to get one of those when the time comes.
I got back from Miami and transitioned back into Rural Haiti again. Last weekend I was in PaP for a funeral. I ended up spending the weekend with family, but also got to go out a bit. While PaP is inundated with NGOs, it’s still a fun place. Haiti is a wild place man. Being here has made me realize how small this place actually is. Tuesday I was in Cange visiting a patient and while I was eating breakfast one of the doctors told me he saw me on Saturday in front of the church. I was like you sure it was me? He was like “oh yeah – you were look sharp and serious in your suit.” Seriously, there is no hiding here.
Things that I don’t like about the gig that have nothing to do with the actual work
Yo, for the most part the job is pretty solid. The work is challenging, I am meeting great people and I feel hopeful that positive things are happening in the central plateau of Haiti. I like the fact that I am working with Haitians who trying VERY HARD to make best of a difficult situation. I think the org I work for is gangster. We aren’t perfect, but lord knows what would happen if the org just decided to get up and bounce. While my time so far here has been good, there are certain things I wish I could like change that have nothing to do with the actual work. Being an ex-pat in a country that is considered unstable, my mobility is very limited. I can’t move around without rides. Getting a ride here is like pulling teeth. There is a hustle to it. You call the dispatch and then a car will pick you up and take you where you need to go. You become friends with the drivers and get their numbers so they can hook you up. Some are cool, some a dick heads. I am not allowed to be on road from Mirebalais to PaP after 8[m and I am on lockdown after 11pm, 7 days a week. I understand this is all for my safety, because if something were to happen to me it would be ugly. It can just be kind of annoying at times when I want to be somewhere and at times can’t because I am on lock down. I feel like bubble boy sometimes. When the weekend comes my Haitian colleagues break out for the weekend. They either go to where they are from or to PaP. I usually head to Cange to chill with the 2 dudes who are expats that I’ve become tight with. The problem is that they leave in May. Honestly, once they are gone I won’t really want to be in the Central Plateau every weekend with my thumb up my ass. My other coworkers are cool, but I don’t have much in common with all of them like the other 2 dudes. So an option would be to hit up PaP and chill with family and stuff. I also plan on taking driving lessons to learn to drive stick. My pops has a ride in PaP and I would WHIP the hell out of. But, again it’s not that easy to just be able to go away for the weekends. It would depend on work load and security all of which is very understandable.
My camera broke so yeah…about those pictures. I have some on my computer, but laziness works the same way in Haiti as it did in NYC