Sunday, November 18, 2018

Lazy Sunday

I sat eating breakfast inside the hotel's dining room, dimmed by the security doors which had not been pulled aside today, here on national strike day in Haiti. My Kindle app was full, but I didn't really want to sit inside all day. Still, there was no rush. It was Sunday morning, after all. Few businesses would be open.

I asked for milk with my coffee, and the server looked quizzically at me. "Um...lait?" I tried. She still didn't know what I meant. Finally, she said "Oh, let." And I assumed that's the pronunciation in Creole, but maybe I'm totally wrong.

"Haiti the beautiful asks for justice," said the Facebook posts of an artist I'd met the day before. She was ready to take to the streets. Everyone in town was either protesting or in lockdown in case of problems.

I peeked outside after a few hours. Some Haitians were venturing out. I saw a boy walk by with a radio to his ear. At first, I thought he was listening to the news, but then I realized a football game was happening.

I headed downstairs to go outside for a walk, and as I passed the front desk, the hotel owner abruptly clicked off the TV before I could get a look at it. A guy in one of the few open art studios later explained why. “The reports are bad from Port Au Prince,” he said. “One person has died already.”

I bought three little wooden figures from him for $6, because if someone bothered to open today, I figured they deserved at least a small sale. Then a guy in a park said "Oh, hey, I'll open my shop for you." I'd been in his shop yesterday, but I went along anyway. I bought this wooden Haiti sculpture with a world in its bay.

People in Jacmel were inquisitive and friendly. I was never at a loss for people to chat with. Some asked me which agency I worked for. Red Cross was a popular guess. They'd look pleased and surprised when I say I’m a tourist. Fun Marie fact—I was reputedly the first tourist into East Timor after the revolution. Actually, that's not really a fact. I don’t even believe it myself, but in 2001, some people told me this was true.

As a tourist, I wanted to go take photos of the protests, but I understood my role was to stay out of the way, though Jacmel's protests were probably nothing like what was going on in Port-Au-Prince or even Cap-Haitien.

I stopped at Colin's Hotel for lunch, because it was 1) open and 2) had food. After I finished eating, I went to the cashier and asked "Where are these?" I showed her a photo of the Préfète Duffaut stairs. She said "Above Sogebank."

So off I went and there they were! Right where I turned into the stairs, two scooters collided and some guys started yelling at each other. But the police were there. OH WAIT, the police were there. I scurried up the stairs, hoping they wouldn't see me and send me back to the hotel.

A minute later, a guy I'd met yesterday at the art center came hurrying up after me.

"The police would like you to come back down. It is not safe here. Last time the protests happened, many people rushed down these stairs.”

Oh, okay. 

I went back to the hotel for a while, then went for another walk. A few more shops had opened up, but not the one with the painting I liked. I wandered down to the sea, walked along the mosaic path at the ocean's edge. Crash! What was that?

I looked over to see a lamp post had toppled into the sea. Several Haitians gathered to fetch the parts of it back out. They stood there with the pieces of the lamp post, unsure what to do next.

Tomorrow, I thought, I will go to the bus around 7:30 in the morning and catch La Source back to Port-Au-Prince. I'd pre-booked a ride in PAP to get me from La Source to my hotel in Petion-ville, since I now had my hands full with my paper maché horse head and my chicken.

Au revoir, Jacmel!

Photos of my lazy Sunday are here. 


William Kendall said...

An eventful day. I do like that wooden sculpture.

Linda said...

Likely you were the first female tourist traveling alone in East Timor after the revolution.