Hello faithful readers,
Who am I kidding? No one has been reading this for weeks and this blog is quickly turning into a secret diary. On the plus side, I feel that I can now express myself freely. For example, I’ve always wanted to tell someone that I’ve always wondered what Pandas taste like. Is it gamey like bear or is meat marbled like that of ruminants? Have Chinese people eaten Panda? Is that why they’re endangered?
I guess that a few fun events have taken place since my last entry. I finally went to two of the must-see destinations in Haiti: the RAM concert at the Oloffson hotel and the city of Jacmel.
RAM is Richard Auguste Morse’s band. You can read all about him and the music here. The cliffnotes version is that he leads a sort of roots-rock band that puts on pretty damn amazing shows. It doesn’t hurt that most of them take place in the incredible Oloffson Hotel, a gingerbread-style mansion that was the setting of Graham Greene’s “The Comedians”. Also adding to the ambiance is that the band doesn’t begin playing until well past midnight and that the audience is already good and happy on rum punches. The band plays until well past three so the Friday after RAM is notorious amongst expats as very unproductive. I’m hoping to get pictures from my friends and will post them if and when I do.
Ever since I stepped foot here people have been asking me if I had been to Jacmel and quietly tsk-tsking me when I told them that I hadn’t. During the course of various conversations the image of the town shifted from a funky artist colony to a glam beach community to a debauched party town. So when a group of friends from all over invited me to join their weekend getaway, I jumped in the Toyota ambulance and headed for the South Coast.
Four hours later, we had covered the fifty miles that separate Port-au-Prince from Jacmel and I was able to discover the town you see in these few pictures. Whatever grandeur was there has long faded, but in a dignified tropical way. And while we did see many artists at work, and a few loud bars and some half-hidden signs of wealth, Jacmel was mostly distinguished by its safety. This was the first time in nine months when I felt comfortable walking the streets, even at night. The freedom to ambulate is one of the most underrated pleasures around and Jacmel made me realize how much I miss it in Port-au-Prince. Aside from the joys of strolling, we also got to spend an afternoon at a public beach alongside ordinary Haitian families. Well, there were some extraordinary things, like the MINUSTAH troops in battle gear patrolling the sand and the sight of our Italian friend Davide trying way too hard to organize his beach soccer team. You can expect to see more pictures of Jacmel before I leave this country, as I plan to return at least once.
Back in Port-au-Prince, I had to scramble to get registered at the French embassy so as to get the consular card that would get me in to the Bastille Day soirée at the Ambassador’s residence. That mission accomplished, I was free to celebrate le 14 juillet with my countrymen. With continued apologies for the lack of pictures, I can report that the day was properly honored and that I scored a dinner with the French Ambassador (who is a friend of my godfather’s) when he comes back from his vacation in September.
Well that about wraps it up. I will catch you all later.