Tag Archives: Haiti

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

Taps taps: Gaily coloured buses used in Haiti as a form of public transportation. The literal translation is “quick quick”. They may also be called camionettes. Makes for an exciting, though not necessarily totally safe ride!
Haitian Tap tap
Haitian Tap tap
Tap tap - take 2!
Tap tap – take 2!

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Best Western opens hotel in Haiti

Reblogged from the Jamaica Gleaner

Best Western opens hotel in Haiti – Business – Jamaica Gleaner – Sunday | March 31, 2013.

A United States hotel chain opened a hotel in Haiti last Thursday for the first time in 15 years.

Best Western International has completed construction on a US$15 million, seven-storey hotel that features 106 guest rooms and several suites.

The towering facility is located in the hillside district of Petionville and is targeted at the business traveller.

The new hotel is part of a larger hotel boom in Haiti that has taken hold since the earthquake in 2010 destroyed thousands of buildings.

To date, developers are building or planning at least seven hotels and many hope that the businesses will create thousands of jobs in a country where unemployment hovers around 60 per cent. Together, the projects add up to more than a US$100 million investment.

In December, the Royal Oasis, run by Spanish firm Occidental Hotel & Resorts, opened as an upscale hotel a few blocks from where the Best Western Premier now stands. The Marriott International, also in December, began construction on a US$45 million hotel that’s scheduled to open in 2015.

Even before the earthquake, which officials say destroyed more than 800 hotel rooms, it was difficult to find hotels in Haiti that met international standards. Those that did were often filled with diplomats and humanitarian workers.

The last US hotel chain to run a hotel in Haiti was the Holiday Inn. It closed in 1998 because of political instability.

– AP

The Streets of Port-au-Prince

Welcome to the streets of Haiti. These are shots I captured at random times of day in random spots around Port-au-Prince. This is a bustling city where commerce comes in all shapes and sizes. These are enterprising people. Each has a story to tell. Each story might reflect a deep, abiding love for a land that was once a land of the free, but now painted as the land of the forgotten. I’ll let the camera do the talking, but I hope by the end of this post you’ll figure out that there is more to Haiti than meets the eye…or ears…or news. Enjoy.

Haiti from above. I took this through the window of a plane ride that took me over Hispanola last weekend. The brown is overwhelming, the green is almost in hiding...
Haiti from above. I took this through the window of a plane ride that took me over Hispanola last weekend. The brown is overwhelming, the green is almost in hiding…
A view from the hill top. A beautiful sunset over Port au Prince.
A view from the hill top. A beautiful sunset over Port- au- Prince.
A busy day in Port-au-Prince.
A busy day in Port-au-Prince.
Carrots for sale
Carrots for sale
A roadside conversation over chicken
A roadside conversation over chicken
Fun, interesting ride in a Tap tap!
Fun, interesting ride in a Tap tap!
The Haitian Christmas swag :)
The Haitian Christmas swag 🙂

 

On one particular afternoon during a quick ride to the supermarket, this song happened to be blaring on the radio. So imagine me clicking away on the camera, listening to conversations in Haitian Creole and humming away to the Spanish bachata lyrics 🙂 Cultural fusion indeed!

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Sonje Ayiti: My Haiti earthquake memoir

Today I close the chapter on memories of the Haitian earthquake. I will begin a new chapter in this book. I will focus on the life that is flourishing in Haiti. First though I must give you an appreciation for how conditions were for the various aid workers that made their way to the country in early 2010, myself included.

Busy Haitian Marketplace
Busy Haitian Marketplace

Living Conditions

I stumbled across this chapter in my memoir… It is difficult to imagine just what a mean feat the entire expedition is without some appreciation of the physical circumstances that must be endured by the volunteers. Apart from the pervasive dust and heat, volunteers spend many hours cramped in buses travelling over extremely rough roadways. Food consists of dried goods and essentials consumed for their nutritional value. Some days this may be supplemented by a hot meal. Bottled water tastes almost like honey to your parched throat and for the first time I find myself draining every drop of water from the bottle. Most nights volunteers sleep on the ground in sleeping bags or on low cots, at least two nights were spent on the seats of the buses. Running water is a commodity and as such bathing becomes an every other night experience. Many areas of the country are without electricity so one must quickly get accustomed to the starlight which is in itself a magnificent sight to behold.

Day of Fast and Prayer
Day of Fast and Prayer

A Tense Moment

For anyone glued to their television set in the weeks following the earthquake, it was impossible to miss Anderson Cooper relate stories of escaped prisoners from a collapsed jail, rapes of women within the camps and the danger faced by contingents transporting food supplies. This was our encounter… Night travel is definitely not recommended and there were enough media reports to warn us of the dangers. During the time we were there Haiti observed three days of fasting and praying. As such we would see large gatherings of people during the day and night. On our first night we stopped our entourage as there was a large crowd in the street and for a few moments we were not certain of what was taking place. A tense few minutes ensued and our mood was quickly changed from one of boisterous rejoicing to tense watchfulness. We resumed our journey once we realised that a police vehicle was nearby and that it was merely a large church service that was taking place in the streets. We were on our way to St. Marc having made our way from the border.

Stranded at the Border Crossing

Yes, we were stranded! After several hours of setting up clinics and feeding members of various communities we arrived at the Haiti/Dominican Republic border only to find ourselves locked out of the DR and stranded in Haiti. This is what I found in my memoir… The night met us camped out at the border crossing into the Dominican Republic. Despite the crazy, three hour, belly jerking, pothole riddled dash to get there on time; we found that the transport from the Dominican Republic failed to show. Wow, so close and yet so far. The border gates closed, the sun disappeared and night set in with us sitting, lying and sprawled on the gravely ground of the roadway and the hard seats of the bus. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated wet wipes as much as I did just then, as it was the closest to a bath I was going to get for at least 40 hours! I was simply exhausted.

The True Meaning of Gratitude

Five hours, nine security checkpoints and one bathroom stop lay between us and our flight to Trinidad. The security checks have been implemented since the recent attempt to traffic children out of Haiti.

One month and a few pounds heavier later, I can truly appreciate what I have. I pray to God that I will never have to see the day my very survival depends on another. To see someone turn away in defeat because they can no longer help me or to see pitying eyes averted from my naked, unwashed and under-nourished body. I know I am blessed.

Within a Camp
Within a Camp

I find myself longing to go back. It’s almost like the land of Haiti grows on you. Despite the rigours and hardships, it is difficult to turn your back on the vast need there. The people of Haiti need us as much as we need the disorderly sanity of our lives to remain intact…

Three years later, in 2013, I am still grateful for all that I have. Thanks for sharing this journey with me through my raw thoughts in my memoirs. I have officially put the full stop in place. Can’t wait to tell you about my more recent discoveries of the land of Haiti – next post!

Related Stories:

Sonje Ayiti – A Page from my Haiti Earthquake Memoirs

Sonje Ayiti, Rappelant Haiti, Remembering Haiti

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Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! ~ From Island Vignettes, Haiti

Happy Holidays to everyone from Island Vignettes!

~ Feliz Navidad (Spanish), Joyeux Noël (French),  Geseënde Kersfees (Afrikaan), Frohe Weihnachten (German), Milad Majid (Arabic), Vrolijk Kerstfeest (Dutch), С Рождеством (Russian), Nollaig Shona Dhuit (Irish), God Jul (Swedish), Καλά Χριστούγεννα (Greek) ~

Enjoying a piece of bûche de Noël with friends in Haiti
Enjoying a piece of bûche de Noël with friends in Haiti

bûche de Noël

This is such a special season and my favourite time of year. Here in the islands, we often spend time in church giving honour to Jesus Christ – the reason for the season. Family dinners, lunches, friends – lots of food and lots of alcohol, dancing and general merriment abounds. In Trinidad and Tobago the Christmas season starts around mid-October and the traditional music – Parang begins in earnest; carols are heard everywhere, company dinners, elegant evening attire and a general feeling of goodwill prevails.

This year I gave up both the Trinbagonian and Jamaican Christmas in favour of some quality time in Haiti. What an experience this was! I am pleased to announce that I will be giving honour to this by dedicating the month of January to my Haitian sojourn – the life, the people, the culture, the history and much much more…

January also marks the anniversary of the devastating earthquake the rocked Haiti three years ago.

Happy Holidays to you and yours once again! Do enjoy this Christmas rhythm & parang song – both Fedexed direct from Trinidad & Tobago to your living room 🙂

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