Haiti, from Me to You.

April 5, 2017

When I packed my already bloated carryon for Haiti, it dawned upon me not to forget an extra side of open mind and open heart for this journey. Haiti is one of those nations that is oozing with history, culture and beauty yet an all too familiar pop narrative persists, if you let a mainstream lens tell it. I had already thought better than to consume that rather narrow and banal story line of disease outbreak, earthquakes and hurricanes. The time had come for me to experience and know better.

Buses whipped by in technicolor blurs. Ebony skinned business men shouted Creole into their mobiles while crossing busy roads. Mamas sold their best fresh goods by the roadside.  To say that I landed in Port-au-Prince and hit the ground running would be putting it lightly, diet coke style. I learned very quickly that if you don’t have direction and determination in Port-au-Prince, be prepared to be swallowed whole by this developing metropolis. Crumbs and all. (Did I mention that I do not speak one single solitary lick of Creole? More on that poop show later.)

I quickly checked into my hotel room but y’all know there’s no rest for this weary traveler. I had just enough time to shower and tasmanian devil my once pristine hotel room (given just three minutes, women can execute this task with exact precision) before I met up with my friend Verdy. Despite his pretty busy schedule, Verdy allowed me to tag along for the rest of his day.

Verdy was born in Brooklyn. He’s lived all over the United States and would spend much of his youth shuffling between the states and Haiti. A few years ago, Verdy decided to pull the trigger and moved to Port-au-Prince full-time to pursue a life long dream. When I started to ask questions about Haiti, he gave me his honest, raw and insightful opinion. Over the next week, Verdy showed me his country. All of its vexations and all of its virtue. Being partially raised in the United States, Verdy regards the inefficiency of his country with much frustration. He complains incessantly about a severe lack of infrastructure and an unfamiliar slower pace that would drive any over achiever bananas. Yet through all of his complaints and disappointments with his Haiti, this native son holds stead fast to being proudly Hatian. When asked if he would ever leave Haiti and live in another country, maybe the U.S. again, his response? A rather firm, profound and resolute: “No, never.”

See that’s the thing. Despite the political, social or economical climates that make us shudder with shame or embarrassment for our respective birthlands, we can all relate to cradling searing passion for our roots. Often times, that slim line between love and hate doesn’t exist as we all hold on to idealistic views.  I, for one, truly believe that our best (American) days are still ahead of us! In the meantime,  come along with me as I give you a glimpse into Verdy’s Haiti. Try not to fall in love too hard, she’s already taken…

Photos: Verdy Verna

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