By Jennifer Browning
Eyebrows raise with shock and surprise when I tell people I have just returned from Haiti. Isn’t it dangerous? Aren’t you afraid? Aren’t they kidnapping people? What about the violence? Isn’t it sad?
I sigh, smile and begin a hopeful dialogue about how I have fallen in love with this small vibrant, beautiful island country in the Caribbean. I blurt out about how despite its turmoil, Haiti and her people remain strong, resilient and Haiti’s drum beats on so that her dance can continue. The Haiti I long for when I am back in the States is not one of complete turmoil and despair, but one of beautiful mountains, vibrant music, spicy Creole cooking, and the people…..the people who show so much passion and spirit. I think of the smiles I receive on the roads I walk down. The simple, modest Bonjou from one person or the hug and Sak passe! from another.
One night during my first visit, I chose to sleep outside on the roof of the guest house where we were staying in Thomonde. I am not sure if it was the unpolluted sky embellished with stars above me, or the intoxicating, rhythmic drum beat in the far off distance, but I think that is when Haiti began her courtship with me. Each day of each visit, the dance has continued. Whether its watching women dance and sing to racine music, sitting on a front porch with a cup of strong black Haitian coffee, or watching children play soccer with a ball made from a rice sack, a rag and string….Haiti makes me never want to be too far away from her for too long.
Amy Wilentz confesses her own love affair with Haiti in her Conde Naste Traveler piece Love and Haiti. Read about her affair, and you may feel that you too need to jump in and take the plunge toward this special place (she also has travel suggestions!).