Arrival in Ayiti Cheri

Dear readers

I left Zürich for Haiti. This might be a little unexpected for some of you. I guess I’m not the best in letting people know early enough what I’m about to do. Maybe it’s because I don’t know it myself until shortly before it happens.

Farewells were bade the evening before I left, the night was very short – made me feel like I finally belonged somewhere. Maybe Zürich was never so close like since I learned I was going to leave. On the 5th of January the Iberia-plane took me to Madrid and from there to Santo Domingo, where I spent the night in a terrible touristic Karaoke-atmosphere, with no dinner but at least some beer.

The next morning I flew on to Port au Prince, without any breakfast, cause it was too early. A nice little ATR-plane brought us over the mountains of Hispaniola.

Ayiti (land of high mountains) was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the mountainous western side of the island.©wikipedia

The native Taino Amerindians – who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Columbus in 1492 – were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti.

The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti’s nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L’Ouverture. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence in 1804. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history.

After an armed rebellion led to the forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006. A massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010 with an epicenter about 15 km southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince. An estimated 2 million people live within the zone of heavy to moderate structural damage. The earthquake is assessed as the worst in this region over the last 200 years and massive international assistance will be required to help the country recover. ©CIA factbook, read more here

Port au Prince is so different than in the news. So much better, actually! You can find anything here, except people who act like victims!

The oldest game in the world

You can even find any kind of food – including caviar and terrine de canard and Za’atar, for those of you who know it – cause many supermarkets are kept by Lebanese. But the best fruit and vegetables can be found in the streets, carried in huge baskets on women’s heads.

On the other hand, the tapwater is turbid and the air stinks of innumerable exhaust fumes, cause everybody is driving a 4×4. It’s understandable, the steep streets being as even as the river beds in the Atlas mountains.

But aren’t streets always uneven when you’re a stranger? We are way too white – and so are our cars…

I’ll start working tomorrow. Don’t know what to expect, but I have a good feeling about it.

And found a good song: Ayiti Cheri