Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A day in the life: plus fotos de Port-au-Prince

Some more random shots of street life in Port-au-Prince:

In these photos you can clearly see some of the earthquake damage that remains years after the fact:

Tim White

A day in the life: The wonders of the iron market

Strolling around Port-au-Prince, probably the most significant landmark is the Iron Market. It largely collapsed during the earthquake two years ago, but was quickly rebuilt by an international financier. I think it's beautiful and distinctive. Supposedly the minarets were intended for Cairo 100 years ago. But that deal fell through after the major iron work had already been completed. So when Haiti offered to buy the structure, it was shipped to the former French colony:There's car parking underneath this arch with large buildings on each side of the parking lot.

Here's a view near to the parking lot:Here's a couple of somewhat upsetting pix of the dinner plate:Some of the various herbs and spices being offered:There were a slew of wood carvings, such as this goat:And then there was the voodoo corner. Notice the black plastic bag covering something:I find the use of baby dolls in voodoo art to be a bit creepy:Here's what was hidden under the black plastic bag:If you're wondering where one "finds" a human skull, I understand that grave-robbing is relatively normal in Haiti. Bones are used in all sorts of voodoo rituals. I always try to be open-minded about other cultures. But I'm no fan of grave-robbing. There's a reason why a family buries someone. And it's not to have their skeletons exhumed for use in religious ceremonies.

And notice the design behind the skull and kreepy kid. It's a rendition of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus. I feel it helps to explain how some Haitians attempt to reconcile their multi-god voodoo practices with their Sunday attendance at their local Catholic parish:As for all the colorful powders, I'm not sure of their use. But they were in the voodoo corner. And I know that voodoo uses colored powders. So I'm guessing it's voodoo-related in some way:

Tim White

A day in the life: Job training

One of the many efforts in which we're involved is "development." It's a broad term that includes helping people create jobs for themselves.

One of the ways that we're helping people make a living is in breadmaking. Specifically, using technology (heavy duty equipment) we're helping become more efficient in making cassava bread.

Cassava bread is made from the poisonous root of manioc. Manioc contains cyanide. It's used around the world to make cassava bread, but the roots must be treated carefully to ensure the cyanide is removed properly.

Since cassava bread is eaten by virtually everyone in Haiti, we're helping to construct cassaveries in several villages in our zone. And to date, almost none of the cassavery-produced cassava bread has left any of those villages. So we know there's still a market beyond the villages.

But before any of the cassaveries opened, we provided training to co-op participants. Sure, most people knew how to make cassava bread. But if there were new people getting involved, we wanted to provide them with instructive guidance... particularly in relation to the potentially deadly depoisoning process.

Here are a couple photos we took of the training:The trainer was great. She imparted knowledge, such as harvesting techniques, that was new to many of the participants.

Tim White

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A day in the life: Road trip to Dame Marie, part 5

As we were approaching the town of Chambellan on our return trip from Dame Marie, we got a flat. Considering how rugged the roads are here, I was surprised we made it 2/3 of the round trip before getting a flat. But not to worry! Ze-ze, the chauffeur, had the pickup on jacks within three minutes, had the spare on within seven minutes and we were on our way within ten minutes! It was not a fun task on these dusty roads. And he had us driving again.

Couldn't help wondering though... hope we don't get another flat...

But Ze-ze -- and all Haitians -- have that sort of thing under control. Sure it was 4pm on a Saturday. And Mardi Gras was entering full swing. But that doesn't mean you'd put out the "Sorry, we're closed" sign on your Haitian Jiffy Lube:Not a lot of brick'n'mortar, but they have the necessary tools:Within ten minutes the popped tire was getting pulled off the rim and the inner tube was getting filed and heated for the repair job:After working the tube, Mr. Jiffy was putting the final touches on the patch job:Lo and behold, a fixed flat:And of course, we had fun playing games with the ti moun (literally little people, but more appropriately children)......because it's always fun to put a smile on a kid's face.The repair job cost 50 gouds... about $1.20. And our adventure was soon over as we returned to Jeremie at dusk.

Tim White

A day in the life: Road trip to Dame Marie, part 4

Our trip to Dame Marie was only a week before Mardi Gras. And in Haiti the Carnival partying begins weeks in advance of Fat Tuesday. So I wasn't surprised in the least bit to come across so many neighborhood festivals. As I mentioned before, we encountered our first of the day at 7am:And they continued throughout the day. But our first festival where the people were really decked out in their colorful garb was in Chambellan:I'm sure there was some sort of special significance to all the strips of red plastic flowing from their headdresses and the pastel ropes hanging from their chests, but I don't know what it is:Other than red is very powerful in voodoo:Here's Martha chatting with the leader of the ceremony:And here's the feistiest member of the group, Conni:Never one to back away from getting involved in events as they arise, Conni tried to battle the group. But she eventually fell to the sword of their fearless leader:

Tim White

Monday, February 13, 2012

A day in the life: road trip to Dame Marie, part 3

After coming across the mountains and making our way to Bette's place, we had arrived at our destination:We were joined by some of the local kids:And we were well-informed. As we had been told, we were visiting a little piece of Haitian heaven:Unsurprisingly, we were the only blancs in sight:But we weren't alone. There were several fishermen at work:The bay was quite tranquil. No undertow:By the time we were leaving around 2pm or so, the kids also went for a dip:And the rooster went for a run:Cockfighting is huge in Haiti. There are hens and roosters everywhere.

Tim White

A day in the life: road trip to Dame Marie, part 2

Most of the drive from Jeremie to Dame Marie was relatively flat. Passing through the towns of Tessier, Marfranc and Moron, we finally arrived in Chambellan. That’s where we really started climbing the mountains. And I last left you as we reached the peak. I now rejoin you as we descend to the lovely Dame Marie...

As we approached town, activity increased. As you know, Haiti is a poor country. And foot power is often the only option for moving goods:

Compared to the torn-up, washed-out road we had travelled for the past two hours, this cobblestone street was a blessing to this flat bed voyageur:

But the real treat came as we approached the seashore:

At the intersection, we turned left and headed toward the slice of paradise owned by one of our colleagues, Bette. The coastal road wasn’t so bad:

No words necessary:

Before finding Bette’s beach, the boulevard stepped inland. But the driver, Zeze, knew the entrance to her “neighborhood.” And we were soon cruising the “streets” in a “residential” area:

The street narrowed a bit, but we still had a border fence as a guide:

When the border fence gave way, we still had some coconut trees through which we could not pass. For we had no teleportation capabilities! So we kinda had to follow the foot path pretty closely:

But eventually the forest disappeared and we had open field in front of us:

Soon thereafter, we arrived at Bette’s Blue Bay and Beige Beach:

To be continued...

Tim White