Whoops, sorry for not updating in a while. I've spent all of my internet time either uploading photos on Flickr (so I don't lose them like every other trip I've been on) or on SF0 tasking.
Anyways, I don't really feel like going into great detail, but we went to Jakmel, saw a whole lot of Vodou stuff and came back to Pòtoprins yesterday. I got really sick (head cold) and we couldn't fly up to O'Kap today, so I took it easy and Kai bought a bunch of souvenirs. We're flying up to O'Kap tomorrow and coming back on the 31st. Then, we're going to do the New Years thing and do some shopping on the 1st, just in time to return to the States. If you want my stories, for now, the best way of getting them is to sit me down for a cup of coffee when I get back and I'll keep you informed.
Still in Pòtoprins. I'll be heading to Jakmel later today.
We've changed hotels to one closer to downtown called the Palace Hotel near Champs de Mars. It's pretty nasty, but it's cheaper (we got it down to US$40 for a double).
Two days ago, we had one of the most interesting experiences here in Ayiti (or anywhere I visited, honestly). The Vodou traditions here are very much kept under wraps it seems (not like religious traditions in other countries, outside of perhaps the Yezidis). However, when we visited the Cemetary of Pòtoprins, we were approached by a rather frightening-looking fellow who offered to show us around. He then brought two of his friends along, which was more than a bit unnerving, especially as this is an above-ground cemetary--the graves are not dug, but are in place as tombs. As we got deeper and deeper into the cemetary, we became more and more sure that we were going to get robbed, kidnapped, or killed. Remarkably enough, he just ended up taking us to a church in the center. Afterwards, he offered to take us to the "Bawon" (Bawon Sanmdi, made famous by a certain James Bond flick). We go with him. The cemetary begins to look more and more claustrophobic. It was probably a trick of the light, but it seemed to get a bit darker as well. We turn a corner. We hear screaming, crying. We look up to see a grand black cross, covered in fetishes and the blood of sacrificed chickens. Dead birds are strewn about. There's a crowd here, circled around two people: a gibbering man and a topless, flailing-about woman. The man falls into Kai's arms. He freezes, and our guide (Mesye Alexandre) yanks him free.
We saw a bit more of the cemetary, but then began to feel in even more danger, especially when our guide motioned to a man carrying a shotgun and he appeared behind another grave. We told Mesye Alexandre that we had had enough and he took us to the exit. We slipped him 200 Goud and emerged safe.
Strangly enough, the next day we ended up in the midst of an Aventist revival march, which ended in front of the national palace with some political slogans aimed at getting the government to support the people of Ayiti to a greater extent. I had another 'celebrity' experience of a bunch of people all vying for my attention. I don't think traveling is good for my ego.
By the way, it's not a good think to say "I got Goud up the ass". Personal experience - trust me.
I'm in Pòtoprins (Port-au-Prince).
I arrived two days ago from Miami. We went straight to the Wall's Guesthouse in the Delmas district of Pòtoprins. After settling in for a bit, we went downtown and explored a bit around the central palace and the museum areas. The next day, we met another traveler at the same guesthouse from Uganda. So far, he's the only other traveler we've met (all the other foreigners are aid workers or documentarians or missionaries, etc.) We ended up traveling with him throughout the city yesterday, visiting the Marché de Fer (the Iron Market) which is this huge ediface dedicated to open-ended, freewheeling commerce. You can buy turtles there! Today, we're changing hotels as to get to downtown from where we are, we have to either take a long Taptap (which is basically a flamboyantly decorated pickup truck that seats people in benches in the bed) or an expensive taxi.
Prices in PaP are actually quite expensive. It's not easy to find a place for less than $30 per person. Restaurants run around at least $5-6 per meal. It's quite suprising considering the rampant poverty.
A note on Haitian money - officially, it's the Goud (or Gourde, in French), at about 36 to the USD. However, due to the fact that 5 Goud was pegged to 1 USD for such a long time, 5 Goud is often called "1 Haitian Dollar". Which means prices are basically quoted in units of 5 Goud. Which is a pain in the butt, especially when people refer to a bill marked "25" as a "5". Or a coin marked "5" as a "1". And you don't know if they're referring to Haitian dollars or US dollars. Woof.
Anyways, we're probably staying one more night in Pòtoprins, then on to Jakmel (Jacmel).
Wow, it's been a while, no?
I'm on a new trip - a short stop here, then to Ayiti (Haiti).
I'm traveling with my friend Kai, who I met here in South Beach, Miami. We got in a little beach time today, but we have to get up early to make our plane tomorrow. So more exciting updates tomorrow when I arrive.
|I'm back in San Francisco. I had to come back from भारत due to a lack of funds. I'll be staying here for a little while while I get my things in order. If any of my readers are in The City, throw me a comment and we can have lunch or something.|
I'm thinking about Azərbaycan next, or possibly Україна. Regardless of which I choose, it won't be for at least a few months to a year. I'm going to die w/out traveling.