Thursday, August 1, 1991

Small hand-painted scrap pressed wood, Haiti, 1991

Small piece of scrap pressed wood with river scene painted on it, apx 6 inches square. Name of "Gilbert" lower right corner. Acquired in Port au Prince, Haiti in 1991 from a street vendor for approximately US$3.

3rd January 2012: Funny story about this small painting. My guide in Port au Prince was a taxi driver who I was paying US$10 a day to drive me around and be my guide (I sat in front seat and he continued to pick up passengers as normal all day, while telling me stories upon stories about everything we drove past and gossip about the passengers as they left his cab). He took me to a small neighborhood market that he claimed was "for the real people, not the tourists" to show me how "real Haitians live" (he said that a lot) and left me alone to explore
while he "took care of business" - he was dropping off some marijuana that he'd picked up earlier at the airport.  This market was just a small row of torn-tarp covered scrap-wood and tin stalls with people selling mostly handcrafted goods and used clothing.
There was this one old man with no legs, sitting in a wheelchair that was made out of an old lawn chair with two big bicycle wheels on the side of it, selling small pieces of art work that he was painting with arthritic, shaking hands.  As I've learned over my travels that its better to buy small souvenirs cause they fit in my backpack easier and are less likely to be stolen or questioned by Customs officers (plus they are cheaper) I decided on this one and started to negotiate with the seller.  After some fun and heated going back and forth on price, we settled on three US dollars, not Gourds.  The seller than threw in two hand-carved wooden statues that I'll need to photograph and post here later. 
I was pleased with my purchase and the price I paid, and when I met back up with my guide, I showed it to him.  He proceeded to shout and yell at me "what you do? I tell you no buy anything! Let me buy for you - you pay too much! I could get for you for only one dollar!"  Actually, he'd probably have paid $1-$3 for it and charged me $5 - he was mad that he couldn't skim off any for himself!  


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