St Patrick’s day at a Brazilian bar in Haiti, why I love Miami, and returning to the land of work.

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04/04/2011 by etiennefish

***Update*** As written yesterday. As the internet generally hates me, things wouldn’t post until today. We’re still waiting on election results, but everything’s fine here at the moment.

So I am so far behind on postings at this point that it is overwhelming me even in my dreams. Sigh. I hate getting behind on posts. I am even further behind on work, which is also completely not fun, so I’m just going to avoid doing any of that by doing something slightly less stressful. Yay blog. So yes, time to just bite the bullet and get it all over with. Yes.

This is hard. Well, the good news is that I am now the new owner of a fabulous and brand-new macbook pro. The Apple people took pity on me. But I digress. Let’s rewind slightly.

So a couple weeks ago, I found myself once again in Port au Prince, gorging myself on the delicious delicious food at the Minustah base. It was heavenly. What was even better, was that it was time for a holiday adventure (yipee!). And yes, I was ready for it.

(Note: not all the photos shown here were taken by me. I lost loads when my computer broke, so I’ve shamelessly stolen some of them from friends. All editing was done by me.)

We did get to do some of this before I left though, so it wasn't all bad.

On the way back from the pools

Just driving through the river (and the city dump) again

It just so happened that while in Port au Prince, it was also St. Patrick’s Day. Clearly celebrations were necessary. I mean, obviously. So that evening, we piled two in the front and four into the backseat of a colleague’s car, and headed off on my first (and so far, only) adventure into Petionville. It was late, I hadn’t slept much in the nights previous, and I was exhausted. Me and my housemate had sadly finished series 3 of True Blood (sadly, because now I NEED the next series to start. Immediately.), and we were both talking about staying in for the night. Unfortunately, we are both inflicted with FOMS, otherwise known as Fear of Missing Something, so of course when the car was loaded up with everyone else, we went along too. I probably shouldn’t have gone. Like I said, I pretty much wanted nothing in the world but to sleep at that point. But then, we were driving in a car. For forever. And then we didn’t know where we were going, so then we just went around in circles. Petionville is another world. I wish I had photos. It’s like wandering into a pretty affluent and fairly trendy part of town pretty much anywhere else in the world. But not Haiti. After growing accustomed to the Haiti that I’d seen so far, it sort of freaked me out, to tell you the truth. And then suddenly we were at this Brazilian bar (no joke, it was called the Brasileiro), listenting to a Cuban/Haitian band play on St. Patrick’s day, and there were a million expats (i.e. mostly white people) around everywhere. And it was very confusing. And no one would take my drink order. Which was sad. So finally, when this random Irish guy we’d met in Jacmel got onstage to try and get people to play ridiculous drinking games, wherein we would likely embarrass ourselves dreadfully, we decided to throw in the towel and head back. But yes, weird night…

My holiday was fantastic though. Just what I needed. I went to Miami. I’d never been before, but now I can officially say it. I love Miami. I should probably move there. Fact. Basically, it was full of beautiful beaches, beautiful people, amazing music, and lots of sunshine. I actually did quite a lot while there. One of my first stops was to get my hair cut. FINALLY. It was necessary. And OMG, can I just say that it feels so SO much better? I mean, that is my first haircut by anyone other than myself in like a year. Basically I can’t tell you how happy it made me. But yes, if you are ever in Miami, there is this awesome little rock and roll style salon run by Italians that we found. And you should probably get your hair cut there (Contesta rock hair).

The skyline as seen on a boat tour of the city

cool bridge

Yay boat tour!

 

The 'cigar man' in Little Havana.

I also love Miami because people still card me to go into bars. Sometimes its strangely affirming to know that you don’t look your age. I should also note that when I go dancing at the gay bars, I still get chatted up by the oldest men in the place, because they think I’m some underage boy. Which is sometimes hilarious. And sometimes not. But mostly hilarious. Which leads me back to the music. I love the music in Miami. It’s the perfect combination of hip hop, latin music, reggaeton, and everything else. Oh how I missed dancing to good/fun music. Or for that matter, dancing at all. Haiti doesn’t have a lot of options when everything is restricted for us, and let’s just not get into how I feel about the ‘music/dance scene’ in Geneva. If I actually lived in Miami, I would definitely have a hard time not going out every night.

 

There was also an Everglades trip. I wish it were longer and went out further into the swamps, but it was still pretty amazing

More from the airboat

Hello mister alligator. I see you.

As noted earlier, while in Miami I also got a new computer (yay!). The good people at Apple saw my history with the Apple Store in Geneva, the fact that I was working in a country without access to their services, and my short time in their city, and just gave me a new laptop. Like a brand new one. I mean, the one that was broken was only bought at the end of 2009, and they upgraded me to a 2011 model with all sorts of better capacity than my last one (it’s so pretty). It almost made up for the fact that I’ve lost every on my computer multiple times, including all the work I’d been doing in Haiti for the last couple months (which I couldn’t back up because I didn’t bring my external hard drive, etc), including photos. Almost. I mean, they tried to get the information off of it, but apparently everything was too corrupted. Oh well. I’m getting used to this. At least I now have a brand new laptop that will probably not break every few minutes. Knock on wood.

Heading back to Haiti was hard though. Miami made me feel alive in a way that I knew I was missing, but not how badly. Plus, I don’t think that things like work and responsibilities and real life are ever really easy to go back to. And what a return it’s been. Le sigh. We basically drove straight from the airport all the way back to Jacmel and have been running ever since. Our first day back was a bit slower and we were tired, but then it was sort of like the world exploded, and I’ve unsuccessfully been trying to play catch-up ever since.

Figuring out the meds situation at the pharmacy in one of the hospitals we work with.

Checking out things at a CTC.

Roadside market on the way somewhere

There’s all sorts of tension here right now because they’re going to officially announce the election results tomorrow at some point (which will mean demonstrations and protests somewhere in the country if not all over), and so everyone’s freaking out about that. Plus, we heard all these reports of an eruption of cholera cases in the furthest west commune of our department (of course), and I so I lost 2 days that I really needed to try and catch up with work, going out into the field and dealing with that (I mean, you can’t really consider yourself working hard here unless you spend entire days on the road bouncing your bones into jelly and inhaling enough dust to ensure that you’ll have to blow it out your nose for the next three days). Luckily, that situation wasn’t nearly as serious as people made it out to be, but things are a mess there in other ways, so that’s more things to sort out. Plus, a bunch of cholera treatment areas places on strike because the workers have not been getting paid, so all in all, it’s totally been a restful week. Let’s just hope that things don’t devolve into massive panic and chaos when the results are published tomorrow.

The view from the car

The view from the car

Working out near Cotes de Fer.

Driving home from the field at sunset. THIS is why Haiti is mountains beyond mountains. This country is truly one of the most beautiful places I've been.

Today, though, was nice (i.e. FABULOUS). I went with some friends on a boat across the bay to a secluded beach. There, we spent the earlier part of the day playing in the waves (it’s a tough life, I know, but yay to first time in the Haitian ocean), hiking to see an old disintegrating French fort, relaxing, and eating lobster. Yes, shock horror. I consumed lobster for the first time in my life. It was terrifying, I’m not going to lie, but I felt I had to do it at least once to say that I’d done it since everyone keeps trying to make me eat it here. Basically, our guides went out and caught the poor alien worm things for us right then and there, and then cooked them up with a lime and pepper sauce. I have to say that I’m extremely grateful that we didn’t have to eat them out of the shell. By the time they got to our plates, the meat was already cut up into little pieces. I don’t think I could have handled anything else. But yeah, it was okay and thus far I have survived the experience. I’m probably not going to do it again though. I felt too bad for the poor things.

I mean, come on. Gorgeous, right?

It's a beautiful sunday morning and we're going on a boat ride. A common theme in this post it seems.

Most of my fellow boat adventurers.

Our beach spot. Sort of the perfect way to spend a morning.

I mean, come on. Gorgeous, right?

Fixing nets

Some little guys we met on our hike

They were slightly confused by our presence, I think.

Boat skeleton!

Fisherman cleaning his fish

Hello Mister crab.

This reminds me of the Oregon coast

Crazy crazy tree roots

The view from the top of our hike

Taking a break in the shade

I love that the fishing nets look like bubbles of foam

So nice

Working on the nets

Climbing up the tree to get some coconuts

Checking out the lobster situation

Lobsters are impressive

He was adorable

Delicious lobsters

Eating and posing

hanging out in the pretty blue ocean

Time for some serious posing

Heading back out to sea

Waving goodbye

Back at the dock in Jacmel. I got to drive the boat most of the way back. I accidentally kept weaving back and forth. People probably thought I was drunk.

In other news of things I have never done before- I went to an outdoor ‘butcher’s’ (i.e. table with a man covered in animal bits, hacking pieces of meat with flies everywhere and people calling out things and bartering on prices) on Friday with our driver and bought some meat off a hanging thing of beef, so that I could feed it to the kitten that my apartment building has adopted (we didn’t know where to get actual cat food). I’m glad the cat seems to appreciate my efforts, because I’m pretty sure I was exposed to about a million diseases in my dedication to the fluffy thing.

Oh, and can I also say that the rain has started in earnest here in the evenings, and falling asleep to the hard and fast patter on our metal roof has got to be one of the most soothing sounds in the entire world. Not to mention, it makes things a lot cooler for those of us without the luxury of air conditioning.

But anyway, yes, I leave you with some photos taken forever ago during carnival or on jaunts through town that I never posted, because they are fun (and because I now have a functioning computer).

walking through town

Carnival was full of these fake bloody people with stakes and such through them. I can't say I fully understood it.

These kids watched one of the parades with me.

A famly enjoys the festivities from their balcony

I love their style

a traditional group passes by

We called this guy the Santa Pope. He wandered around creating trouble for all. He literally stopped this guys motorbike with his foot because he didn't want him interrupting the scene he was about to cause.

These guys were awesome as well. They just set up their table and chairs in the middle of the street and mostly just enjoyed being the focus of everyone's attention.

*** I had another 30+ photos here. But then the internet decided to fail me, and it was all erased. It is too hot in this room for me to patiently sit here and re-upload things all over again plus add captions. I’ll just have to add everything back in later. Sorry.

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