Ch ch ch ch Changes…. Roundabouts 8 months of hanging out (I mean working) in Haiti4
15/09/2011 by etiennefish
So I have tried to write this blog post multiple times. Like a whole lot of multiple times. Clearly though, I have inexplicably never managed to be successful. I refuse further failure.
Anyway, back about 2 months ago, I wanted to write a ‘6 months in Haiti post’, in which I had all sorts of grandiose intentions to write about what I’ve learned and how things are going, supported, of course, by a whole bunch of amazing photos.
But then I never wrote it.
Basically, Emily intervened (by not showing up. See prior posts for further details), and then I went on holiday, and then I came back from Europe to discover that almost everything in my little life here had sort of drastically changed (mmmm, excuses…).
But yeah, I’m still catching my breath from it all.
And NOW we’re going on about 8 months. So apparently I’m just being a baby, which is totally unacceptable. Its just that I’m not sure there’s much to say…
I went on a lovely/desperately needed trip home to Geneva (still weird that Geneva would be ‘home’ to me), in which I spent a lot of time playing with a couple of fuzzy monsters that I missed x 1,000,000, being gloriously mosquito-bite free, packing up my things for movings, walking as much as possible (SUCH a luxury), frolicking in the sunshine at the lake, and drinking mojitos with friends. The weather was beautiful (although a bit cold for me now that I’m officially an islander), and my sanity needed the break.
Unfortunately, however, part-way through my trip, The Canadian came to find out that his contract wasn’t going to be extended as planned. He ended up leaving before I came back (sniff) (and I should also mention that this was partly due to the fact that my trip was extended for both personal and unavoidable reasons- think Irene cancelling all flights to New York…), as did a good portion of my friends in my little town.
So, needless to say, my homecoming has been a bit bewildering and quite an adjustment. The Canadian, who has been my colleague, my housemate, and my best friend since we both arrived here is gone, and its suddenly very strange not to have the person you are used to being around 96.7% of the time, well you know, around. I no longer have someone in which I can recount all the funny, boring, ridiculous, and obnoxious details of my life to, regardless of any actual interest level in what I have to say (yes, sir, I really must thank you for pretending to listen). I have no one to ‘cook meals with’ (i.e. make coffee or watch him heat up the food that the maid made for lunch), and I also do not appreciate watching True Blood alone. Not as awesome (though still amazing). Nope. Also, when the power goes out after 4 days of both self-imposed and forced confinement in the house with nothing to do, I have no one to go adventuring, play scrabble, or rant with. It is disappointing, and not so much fun. Fact.
Also, work has become more difficult. The staff has been changed out yet again (while I was gone), so I’ve been trying desperately to catch up on old things, finish projects, train someone in a job that I have never done nor know how to do, and meet the regular demands of my work. Its hard for people to keep changing around without handovers, and things are getting a bit messy and frustrating (plus, why do new people never seem to understand that its best not to speak to me for the first full hour of work? Ummm, yeah, I’m not exactly a morning person, per se…).
To top it all off, I’ve spent the last few weeks of my life moving. It starting with the packing of boxes in Geneva, but since coming back, I have moved offices (screw you non-functioning air conditioner!), moved apartments (or rather, was moved. Literally. I came home and unlocked my door to find that everything inside was gone. Luckily I had access to the keys to the other place. I didn’t know I was moving), and moved stock out of the storeroom at the old apartment.
I don’t want to move any more. Like Ever.
My new place is awesome though. Its in the same building, and still a loft, but its just one bedroom. Despite never having really lived alone for any significant period in my life, I really like being there. It has a lot of light and the size and shape of the place just works for me. It’s a bit noisier than the last place, but somehow I don’t mind so much. I actually was quite content to hole up there for a few days, quietly hiding myself away from the world (this rarely signifies a positive thing for me). The cat has had a hard time adjusting though, but he’s surviving, and is still quite decidedly the most spoiled kitten in this entire country.
I should point out that its not that things are oh-so-bad here. I still live in a sleepy little town overlooking the beautiful Caribbean sea, full of artists, and good people (however, I would suggest that the variety of music could be drastically improved upon). There’s some adjustments to be made and some new challenges to overcome, but in the end, I don’t think I’ll be too bad off. Hopefully.
The next step? Well, figure out what that’s supposed to be… And then train the friends I have left to pick up the slack that The Canadian and other people’s departures have left. I have confidence in them… If they would just get back from holiday!
Thanks for the update Rowan. I miss you too! Say hi to jac jac.
Is it unrealistic to think of visiting Jacmel in December for a month as a backpack traveller? To read the US Dept of State travel advisories, we are guaranteed to be kidnapped, raped, and murdered as soon as we leave the PaP airport, unless we have an armored car and an escort of UN peacekeepers waiting for us. I was thinking of taking a taxi to the Jacmel bus station. Are you seeing other backpackers there?
(I speak French).
Feel free to friend me on FB.
While I think that for the majority of conscientious travellers, The US’ travel advisories might be overkill, Haiti can be a dangerous place. In PaP, there has been a definite marked increase in crime specifically against foreigners in the last few months, and we’ve even seen increased security threats in Jacmel.
That being said, I think if you are used to travelling and taking safety precautions for yourself, you should be just fine. As far as backpackers in this country…. I honestly haven’t really seen any. Most ‘tourists’ here are doing their sightseeing through some form of work, and so have organised travel arrangements, etc. Also, due to security constraints in my job, we can’t take any form of public transportation, so I can’t really help you with that. However, I know that taxis from the airport will rob you blind if you don’t negotiate a price with them beforehand, and I know that there have been many stories of people having no problems on buses around Haiti and others of people getting mugged, etc. I think speaking French at least is a necessity, so it is good that you have that.
Jacmel itself is a pretty safe and calm place most of the time, so I think you will be more than fine once you are here (despite some recent incidents, most crime against foreigners here is pickpocketing and the like). If you are interested in other forms of travel other than the bus system, I know that you can hire private drivers that will pick you up from the airport and take you straight to Jacmel (they are much more expensive). There is also a plane that goes from PaP to Jacmel. I think it is around 60 USD each way.
Anyway, I hope that helps, and feel free to contact me if you have any more questions and I’ll do my best to help!
Oh, the flight PaP-Jacmel is the answer then.