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Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Here I am!

And on your Independence Day (it’s January 1st) too!

 

Outside the airport

 

We’re currently staying at the Trinity Lodge in Delmas, a quieter suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. I first have to give a shout out to Trinity Lodge, as it’s a fantastic place which service has been one of the most hospitable I’ve ever experienced in my travels.

So going into this trip and in my research on Google Maps, I had thought that Trinity Lodge was located conveniently in Port-au-Prince’s city center so that we would have an easy time walking around. Unfortunately when I arrived, I learned it was located in the far far outskirts of the capital; a taxi ride to the center would have costed about $50-$70 USD. This would have been way out of our initial budget. Despair intruded into my soul.

However, in the good fortune of choosing Trinity Lodge, the owner Daniel immediately offered us a free ride in his air-conditioned SUV to Port-au-Prince as well as a personal free tour of the city itself. He even took us to Hotel Oloffson to have a beer, while giving personal accounts of his time growing up here, and describing specific effects of the 2010 Earthquake.

With his company and our conversations on Haiti, the earthquake, his time studying in the USA, and traveling, it’s already been a serendipitous, fortunate occurrence to have Daniel as an integral part of our time here. Although it is well known that the Haitian people are generally warm and hospitable people, Daniel went above and beyond in taking care of us. If that’s also the case with the rest of the country, I’m sold on coming back.

That said, I also highly suggest that you check out Daniel’s community service work for Partners Worldwide in rebuilding post-Earthquake Haiti from the ground up. I also might work with Daniel in the future on expanding travel services for adventure-seekers in Haiti. See you back in NYC, Daniel!

 

Now there’s no question Haiti has borne the brunt of constant tragedy, especially given its last 40 years of political turmoil and an unimaginably devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed over 200,000 people. But although it remains in a state of disrepair, the amazing thing that I’ve already noticed in the first few hours is how the Haitian people have remained stoic and even kept up its cheerful disposition in the face of unthinkable hardship.

The rest of Port-au-Prince, however, remains in strong need of restoration. The promising news is that “tent city” has now been cleared by the NGOs, with those displaced each given $500 USD and a new place to live.

Champs de Mars: Where "tent city" used to be

The rest of Port-au-Prince however, still has a lot of room for progress.

A former movie theater

Another ruined movie theater

Fmr. (and multiple-exiled) President Aristide’s forever unfinished bicentennial statue — looking more like an oil rig than anything else.

Where the National Palace used to stand before the earthquake

The ruins of Notre Dame Cathedral

We also gallivanted around some of the side streets and markets:

We then had a beer and light snacks on the porch of Hotel Oloffson — Haiti’s most recognizable and most iconic hotel (especially for its gingerbread house design) and one of Lonely Planet’s most recommended activity to do while there.

The RAM band performs every Thursday at the hotel

After that we headed back to Delmas.

Given that Haiti is the only country in history that was founded as a direct result after a slave rebellion, Independence Day is widely celebrated by the Haitains. The only thing I saw happening in public on Haitian Independence Day, however, is that everything closes (it being a national holiday and all), a few fireworks are launched at night, and that everyone drinks Joumou, a pumpkin soup that serves as a historical tribute to the newly freed slaves; on one of their first orders of business after winning their freedom and independence, would drink the soup as it was a meal that had been forbidden to them by their former French masters before the revolution. Now pretty much everyone in Haiti drinks it on January 1st to celebrate.

Having been to about 5 countries and 4 different time zones in the last 48 hours, I’m going to pass out now. I think I nodded off at least 8 times during the course of writing this entry.

– At time of posting in Port-Au-Prince / Aeroport International, it was 86 °F
Humidity: 14% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: few clouds