Tuesday, October 1, 1991

Impression Notes, Haiti, 1991

Impression notes written shortly after returning to the United States after six weeks in Haiti, approximately October, 1991. Transcription below each page.

 an evocative image article

Why go-Not a typical tourist place, people very friendly, despite their persistance in selling you things
You laugh a lot when in Haiti
Getting there
customs no problem
money-buy in Miami airport much better rate, spend only gourds "I have no dollars"
Bring things to trade - mens shoes, sneakers, cheap watches, oreo cookies, ball point pens, all decent quality not pure shit
What it was like
w/small amount of past and current history
problems - water, electricity maybe 1 hour a day
national palace under guard not open to visitors
lots of statues of "famouse" haitians everywhere
garbage on street corners in neat (huge) pile, not spread out everywhere, absolute filth everywhere yet actually quite neat
woman asleep on her fruit in market
"bank" is place to buy lottery tickets, "marriage" is a kind of lotto
Couldn't find map or store to buy one! "Try the library" said women at hotel desk "Is it open today? (Saturday)" "No, it open maybe one day next week, maybe today not."
cattle/goats on median strips, side of road, rooster typed to ice-drink cart "for cock fight" said John
drink only bottled, small amounts of water at most hotels won't bother you
illiteracy 80% of population (took Australian dollar checks like American!) (lady next to me on plane filled out immigration form for native returning to haiti who couldn't read the form
smell of burning sugar cane
iron market, meat on tables, flies, smell, art stalls "come see what I have"
Bargain EVERYTHING, but be cautious. Very aware of the value of the dollar, know more about us then we them
girls in dresses coming home for lunch from school, kids solomnly walking to church 2x2
church itself
voodoo hearing the drums on saturday night, lack of problem being Christian on Sunday, Voodoo on Sat and Wednesday
missions their place in haiti
up in mountains much cooler, notice lack of trees, nearly completely deforested people use for
coal for heating cooking
men w/hand trucks
taxi drivers
the constant entourage, paying $10 to walk with you
"blanc, blanc"
cooking in the streets

Handwritten notes:
Hardship of the tourist in Haiti
Safety Factors
Asked for Scrambled got easy over
Weekend in Port au Prince
Places to eat
Restaurant ------ several times frozen USA fish!
Prestige Beer (not bad!)
Mission Cafe (VERY American)
Don't like photo being taken - although may for a few $ - "stealing soul"
tourists' dilema - poverty vs. rich white american
airport-walking all over the place, people bribing the x-ray guy
"All we need is love"

"1960-More than a million of the old 48-star flags are sold in uncut bolts of cloth to Haiti, resulting in an island ablaze with stars-and-striped dresses, shirts and kerchiefs, tablecloths and sheets." Washington Post Jan 11 1991


Cadogan's book
article from post
personal experiences

Handwritten notes:
Pointing to cars(?) "How much in US is that?"
Washing clothes in river
Man discretely urinating on side of building

3rd January 2012: When I returned to the United States after six weeks in Haiti, I jotted down some quick impression notes to use as inspiration for several articles I'd been contracted to ghost-write about my experience in Haiti for a travel magazine.  It is amazing to me how reading these today, over 20 years later, how many memories of my time there come rushing back to me. 

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