Haiti of the Caribbean
Haiti - Caribbean Island
Republic of Haiti
The country of Haiti is the western half of the island Hispaniola which is in the Caribbean. Its official name is the Republic of Haiti. It is a country of 9.9 million people. It is 681 miles south of Florida. It takes one hour and fifty-two minutes by plane to reach the capital of Port-au-Prince from Miami, Florida. The country of Haiti is divided into ten provinces. The currency is called “gourdes.” The official language is Creole which is a mix of French and Spanish.
The Capital (Port-au-Prince)
The capital and largest city in this Caribbean country of Haiti is Port-au-Prince which is located on the wishbone shaped bay called the Gulf of La Gonave. You can drive up Route Nationale #2 into the Pic le Selle Mountains and look back for a spectacular view of the bay. This is a ride and view you do not want to miss.
Republic of Haiti
Third World Country
Haiti is a third world country which means it is an underdeveloped country with widespread poverty. The amphitheater mountainside is dotted with slum communities and card boxes in which the majority of the people live.
If you carry extra weight you are considered rich for most of the people are starving thus very thin with big bellies. Their tin huts are usually one room and are barren of furniture. There may be a few boards, tin or fronds that make the roof and flooring, generally the floor is dirt. The kitchen is a pit in the front of tin hut. The restroom is an open ditch running through the community. It is a regular occurrence for a mother to bring their baby to the visiting Americans in hopes of giving their child a better life.
Haiti in the 1980's
Haiti has a tropical wet and dry climate. The yearly average temperature is 84 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a wet season when you get rain sixteen days in the month and a dry season when you do not get one day of rain.
Roads and Transportation
There are eight roads on Haiti. Route Nationale 1-8;
#1 goes north
#2 goes south through port-au-price then west
#3 goes northwest
#4 goes south
#5 goes northeast then turns northwest
#6 goes southeast our of Cap-Haitian
#7 goes northwest to Jeremie
#8 is the shortest route and it goes east to the Dominican Republic
It is stated that one fourth of the islands roads are paved, but the roads are more potholes than tar.
The common form of public transportation is a taxi which is called a “tap-tap.” They are called “tap-taps” because the fare or coins are used to tap the side of the vehicle, which is a brightly painted pick up truck, to let the driver know that there is a passenger wanting off. Some of the trucks are rigged with a bell and a string. The passenger pulls the string that is strung down the center of the tarp and it rings a bell in the cab letting the driver know you want to get off. The back of a small pick up truck hold from 20 to 30 passengers which may include a chicken or a goat.
For those who have a motorcycle available this is a favored form of transportation. If you are wanting to travel any distance from the capital you get the public transportation on the back of a truck loaded with merchandise. You can take a boat alas the boats are often overloaded and not safe for passengers.
Jean-Claude Duvalier or “Baby Doc” was the 41st President of Haiti. His father “Papa Doc” passed away in 1971 leaving the dictatorship to him as the President for Life. “Baby Doc” in his gleaming white presidential palace continued his iron-fisted rule for the next fifteen years under the National Unity Party. Late in 1985 massive anti-Government demonstrations began taking place around the country in the outer provinces. Four school children were shot dead by soldiers, an event that unified popular protest against the regime’. In early 1986 the world’s youngest President left Haiti and moved to France for his and his families safety.
Haitian rice and beans
Rice and Beans, Beans and Rice those are the staple food for the Haitians. If you can make it to the Caribbean Cultural Center they have awesome Mango Ice Cream. If you happen to be around the day the Amish deliver some of their hearty, tasty meat patties you will feel blessed. Storing food in Haiti is an issue. You may have a refrigerator, but not have electricity. It is necessary to daily gather your food. You usually get bread from the bakery. Day old bread is usually less expensive. You gather fruit from your favorite local vendor. If you have the money and the time you can go to the local market and purchase a chicken or a slice of beef.
Influence of music
1985 is the year the song “We are the World” written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. It was performed by the supergroup USA for Africa. The song was released on March 7, 1985. While visiting with some local Haitians in St. Marc, Haiti in May 1985 I was told by a young man “You should make Michael Jackson your President because he would allow the Haitians into your country.” I began questioning him and he explained that "Michael Jackson wrote the song 'We are the World, so he understands the struggles and would allow them to enter the United States.”
Remains from the occupation
When the American military occupied Haiti from 1914 to 1934 they left behind many unwed mothers with children. Those children have grown, had children of their own and are still waiting for a father to return for them. In a hopeless situation it is something to hang on to from generation to generation.
The Year of our Lord 1985
A month in Haiti in the year of our Lord 1985 was spent painting tuberculosis clinics, pastoral training centers, digging for outhouses, manning orphanages, and putting on puppet shows as we tried to make the lives of a few of these people easier for a time. The experience makes you very aware of the wealth and waste in America.
Haiti in 2015 is still a third world country. It is trying to recover from the earthquake of 2010. There is still much political unrest. Mother’s will still bring you their children hoping to get them a better life. The daily gathering of food, living in cardboard boxes and slums is still a part of life in Haiti.