Sunday, July 02, 2006
Life in Cap-Haitien
The biggest event here in Haiti this week was the World Soccer Tournament. Many men from the village gathered in the TV room to view this big event. Of course , you would expect that everyone was rooting for France here in Haiti since everyone speaks French or Creole. Most want Brazil to win and were disappointed at France's win on Saturday.
I live and often work at the Hotel du Roi Christophe, an inn that reminds me of many old movies and of Bogey and Becall in Casablanca. The hotel is a 200 year old structure built as a Spanish Colonial House with verandas, endless rows of arches and inner courtyards and gardens. The Roi (King) Christophe is one of the original slaves of this place which was the Plantation owners' house. Christophe contributed to a revolt which freed the slaves and established Haiti as an independant state several hundred years ago. The owner of the hotel has very good taste in Haitian Art which can be found throughout the hotel. I have good food, nice surroundings at the hotel and sleep very well. There are air-conditioned rooms here but I have one with just a fan and it is fine. There are a handful of other US humanitarian workers here—I’ve met several health workers from Maine working on Health related programs, and one girl from Quebec who is a professor from the Univ. of Sherbrook (she is the one sitting in the rocking chair…) and is here training the high school teachers on curriculum development. Everybody I have met so far can speak French like I do.
This is the Hotel lobby on the right....
Communications here is a challenge. Cell phones work in Cap-Haitien but are terrible when communicating with Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. Internet is an iffy thing even when we have wireless. As if these people don't have enough to deal with.....It always seems that in countries where people are the most oppressed, or face extreme development challenges, that their means of communicating with each other and the rest of the world is all broken up-- but things are getting better here and you can see the hope in the people of this area (better than Port au Prince.) They are setting up their enterprises and farms and producing and planning for the future and people like Benito are extremely dedicated to helping their people and hopeful the country’s future is improving and people will be able to make more money and feed their families. There is wonderful potential for tourism here but the country has a long way to go to improve security for its travelers. But cruise ships do come by and stop for a day in limited places. The opportunities for picture taking are endless and I know I will have hundreds of beautiful pictures of street life when I return.