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In memory of the victims of the Haiti and Chile earthquakes!

Updated on November 15, 2013
Flag from Haiti
Flag from Haiti
Flag from Chile
Flag from Chile
Barbancourt rum
Barbancourt rum

For many years I lived close to both countries. Near Chile, as I was born in neighbouring Peru and I was not far from Haiti either, as I also lived in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

Haiti

A few months after moving to live in Santo Domingo I had the opportunity to fly to Port au Prince with some friends and I jumped at the opportunity! The trip was only for 2 or 3 days, but it proved to be very interesting, intense and a real eye opener for me! Unlike Santo Domingo, where there is a big middle class, in Haiti people seemed to be either filthy rich, or very poor, there seemed to be no in between.


A few months after moving to live in Santo Domingo I had the opportunity to fly to Port au Prince with some friends and I jumped at the opportunity! The trip was only for 2 or 3 days, but it proved to be very interesting, intense and a real eye opener for me! Unlike Santo Domingo, where there is a big middle class, in Haiti people seemed to be either filthy rich, or very poor, there seemed to be no in between.

Carts were not pulled by animals, car or trucks, but by people on foot, many of them old. I remember going past the Presidential Palace one day and all what I could see was the white of the cement all around it, yet in the evening I noticed that there was no white anymore, as it was all dark suddenly. It was only afterwards that I realised that many people were calling those cement steps their home for the night!

Unlike Santo Domingo, which is basically flat, Port au Prince had a hill in the background, with beautiful views of the Caribbean and the bay below. I was surprised to find what looked like an airport on that hill, but it was later that I realized that it must have been a rich person’s home, as airports are not usually built on the side of hills!

We went to one of the beaches near the capital, visited the Barbancourt rum factory and also went to a discotheque in the evening. The disco was built over the water and there happened to be a full moon that night to make it even more special! I can still remember the kind of aquatic music I heard that evening and it reminded me of the Dominican merengue in a way, very loud and intense!

I was already familiar with Haitian paintings, as I had seen them in Santo Domingo before, but there was much more assortment and variety in Port au Prince. I saw many beautiful paintings, most with bright colours and I came to the conclusion that Haitians must be very very creative and artistic people! There were not only paintings, but also beautiful woodcarvings as well!

My short visit soon came to an end and I had to return to Santo Domingo to start my new job in the Central Bank library. Despite being so close, I never got a chance to return to Haiti again while I lived in the DR and later I also left the country that Columbus loved best.

The Campo de Coya bungalows, with the greenery and flowers all around and the Andes in the background.
The Campo de Coya bungalows, with the greenery and flowers all around and the Andes in the background.
Club de Campo Coya logo
Club de Campo Coya logo
Snowy mountains on the road from Chile to Argentina
Snowy mountains on the road from Chile to Argentina
Mataveri Airport in Easter Island, which is also Chilean territory.
Mataveri Airport in Easter Island, which is also Chilean territory.

Chile

I first had the chance to visit Chile when I was single and was living in the Dominican Republic. I had to visit the United Nations Office in Santiago to talk about financial libraries. I stayed in a pension close by and there I met a group young Latin Americans and we enjoyed many activities together, including going to Farellones. I had been in the Porter Heights skiing area in New Zealand, but never really skied there, so this was my first opportunity to ski! I rented some equipment and then tried to ski down the slope, watched by my Latin American friends below, but unfortunately, after a few seconds one of my skies found its own way downhill, leaving me stranded up on top! After our skiing outing my friends took me to the Airport and it was time for me to leave Chile. During that trip I bought two beautiful ceramic doves and I still have them adorning our weekend house, as a memory of Chile!

I did not return to Chile until many years later when I was already married and living in Australia. My husband had to give a course to people in El Teniente Mine, so we flew from Sydney to Santiago, via Tahiti and Easter island. From Santiago we were taken to Club de Campo Coya, where we would be staying for the two-week duration of the course. The place where we were staying was not like a hotel, but more like a country club, as it had a golf course, tennis courts and even a swimming pool! Our rooms reminded me of a kid’s camp, as they were like bungalows on the side of a hill, surrounded by many trees and flowers.

The best place though was their big restaurant, as it was there that we were to meet the other international guests visiting the mine. As starters we used to have a few pisco sours every evening and that was followed by the most delicious food, be it beef, poultry or fish. I can still remember having there the biggest and most beautiful artichoke I have ever eaten! It was a sight and delicious too! Then for dessert we had fresh strawberries and they were very big and red! The waiters called that dessert Strawberries a la Chitombo and that was the name of a friend of ours from Zimbabwe!

From Club de Campo Coya we went to the nearby town of Rancagua shopping or to visit other restaurants in the nearby areas. After the two weeks course we went to the capital Santiago and then by bus to the coast to visit Vina del Mar. Bus travel in Chile is something special, as one is really looked after on the way!

When he was young, my husband spent four years in Argentina, so being close, he could not resist the temptation of going there to visit some friends of his family in Villa General Belgrano. So we took another bus, zigzagged our way up the Andes, saw the Aconcagua and then crossed over to Mendoza to visit his friends before continuing on to Santa Fe to see one of my husband’s colleagues.

After hours and hours on buses we finally returned to Santiago and took the plane that would take us back home to Australia, but our plane was high jacked in Easter Island, but that will have to be the subject of another hub!

Earthquakes

Peru also gets frequent tremors and earthquakes, but I am lucky that there are none in Austria, where I am living at the moment, or in Australia where I was before. Although when I lived in Hobart, Tasmania, the trucks full of apples coming down from the Huon Valley always gave me the impression that we were having an earthquake! I think it is a fear one always seems have inside!

Chilean friend

I sometimes sell my used books on the Internet and a few weeks ago somebody bought one of the Spanish ones and, as she had a Spanish name, I wrote to her in Spanish. She turned out to be a Chilean woman, who now lives in Wuppertal, Germany and we have now become good friends! She told me she was going to Chile, as she was missing her children, so I immediately thought about her when I heard about the earthquake. I wrote to her in Chile and she told me the earthquake had been like hell, as it lasted nearly 3 minutes! Fortunately her family is all right and their homes have not been damaged!

Chilean authors

Two of my favourite authors are Chilean, even though they live elsewhere now and they both write in Spanish: Luis Sepúlveda and Isabel Allende.

Comments

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    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 

      8 years ago from North America

      You are very welcome sylvia13 as long as it doesn't cost me any money....hahaha just kidding.

      One more suggestion never add any pic's in the first capsule because if there are no pic's Google ads will be added in the first capsule.

      I think you need to photo shop your avatar picture & I am 100% sure you will look more cute.....hahaha it is just too dark can't see anything. enjoy rest of your day.

    • sylvia13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Sylvia Gadea de Beer 

      8 years ago from Shoal Bay, NSW, Australia

      How right you were! One could not see it in the Edit mode, so I must make sure to check things in the Finished mode next time! Thanks a lot for your observation and your comments!

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 

      8 years ago from North America

      Hola sylvia13,

      Very interesting hub, I never been to any of these countries but I know Haitian people are known for their Voodoo or black magic practices.

      One of my coworkers was from Haiti & he always told us that Haiti is very beautiful country. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      There is too much empty space in your first text capsule. You can fix it by moving one paragraph from the second text capsule & it will fix the problem. Thumbs up

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