i’m in jacmel, a beautiful port city in the south of haiti. an old french city from haiti’s colonization days. in fact, the french quarters of new orleans got its look & flavor from jacmel. oh la la, sacre bleu! the draw of the city is the gorgeous coastline, slower pace & cooler temps. only 91 & muggy with nightly downpours.
funniest thing is to see haitian people’s reaction to me. one look at me & they say “you are from haaaaaaaaiti” dragging out the last word with a slight inflection to turn it into a question. i can see their thought process. you’re not black. you’re not white. so what are you???
there are two modes of public transportation: school buses & tap-taps. yes, school buses. as in the big, yellow ones you took to elementary school, donated by america & turned into the national bus service. there are so many on the streets, you think the final bell just rang at school. but no, it’s just the locals paying to get from point A to point B. tap-taps are pickup trucks with a nod for the intense sun or intense random rainstorm by providing a metal cover over the truck bed where customers sit. people pay a small amount to get a ride going in the general direction they want to go. and you guessed it, you tap-tap on the truck to hop on & hop off.
jacmel is full of descriptively named hotels. from the shady hotel, bar & restaurant to the peace of mind hotel. and of the two, i’d prefer the shady hotel. at least they’re honest about their business model.
and for the heartbreak bit, you still see the results of the earthquake. from cracks in the asphalt where the world split apart to the random building that is just a pile of rubble to an iron beam propping up a unbalanced wall to the entire countryside dotted with tents provided by foreign aid organizations for the displaced. but it’s heartening to see the newly built rows of one room houses with doors & windows & locks & curtains–the work of numerous non-profits in haiti creating homes for the homeless.
and now the work really begins tomorrow, working with & photographing the work of a wonderful NGO (that’s non-governmental organization to you) in port-au-prince. stay tuned for that adventure.