In the Caribbean, rum was born of pain and suffering but over time became an integral part of the identity of Caribbean countries. Haiti is no exception - maybe I'm biased but I thnk Haiti has the most interesting rum in the world, ranging from Barbancourt 15 Years to the potent white rum of the countryside called Klerin. Haiti's aged rums are ideal for enjoying neat - perhaps with just a bit of ice and a twist of key lime. Klerin is gaining an appeciation by bartenders who appreciate its rustic, grassy flavors. You don't have to get on an airplane to enjoy Haiti's rums although if you do, there will be no shortage of opportunities to try a range of traditional rums, infused rums, and rum-based cocktails.
Spirit Airlines has announced a new routing to Cap Haitien, Haiti's second largest city. Haiti was once, and could be yet again, a significant tourism destination - but this would be unlikely if tourists coudl only enter the country through a congested and unpedictable Port-au-Prince. In Jamaica, most tourists fly into Montego Bay and bypass Kingston altogether. Cap Haitien, with its history, beaches, and relative stability, may eventually become Haiti's Montego Bay. Managed properly, increased tourism could be good for Cap Haitien and the north. A full article on Spirit AIrline's recent announcement by Jacqueline Charles of the is linked and follows.
Remote mountain villages and dense urban slums in Haiti will usually have multiple churches but finding a library is a rarity indeed. AFP journalist Amelia Baron documents below an effort by residents the Cite Soleil neighborhood of Port au Prince to develop a free library where youth can learn. Many of us living in developed countries may take libraries for granted. In a country like Haiti where half the population cannot read and write, they are especially important. More information about the library's creation follows.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to know many strong Haitian women in Haiti and abroad. Below is a Forbes article by Peggy Yu about two Haitian-American women, one of whom started her own company and the other whom became a nurse. Each of them takes pride and strength in their Haitian roots - and nothing any politician says will change that. International Women's Day may have come and gone, but women like Guelmana Rochelin and Johaida Jean-Francois do important work in their communities every single day. Linked and copied below is the full article.
The Haitian government has a responsibility to determine who can and cannot enter/stay in the country and under what circumstances. In the wake of the Oxfam prostitution scandal, the government has indicated that it intends to review all charities to determine the extent to which their staff have been involved in/reported sexual abuse and exploitation. The list of foreigners who have sexually exploited Haitians is long - but it especially stings when committed by people who claim they are there to help such as UN peackeepers, rogue missionaries, and aid workers. This review could be a first step to improving oversight of the multiltudes of NGOs in Haiti. The full article by Reuters journalist Joseph Gulyer Delva follows.
For many years, Haiti was a significant tourist destination. However, the industry never recovered from the American embargo, erronous claims that the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in Haiti, political instability, and natural disasters made worse by deforestation and erosion. Despite that, tourism has a great deal of untapped potential. Sure the beaches and rum are great but other Caribbean countries have that as well. It is Haiti's unique history and culture that could bring the right kind of visitors. New York Daily News journalist Jesse Serwer writes below that Trump's "shithole" comment spurred interest in Haiti, including visits by celebrities such as Conan O'Brien who filmed a special there recently. Read through his article and you just may find yourself planning your next vacation.
One thing nobody can say about Haitians is that they don't have a good sense of humor. In response to President Trump's recent and insensitive remarks, Creative Director of Parkour Studios Fabien Dodars has started a GoFundMe campaign to support a tongue-in-cheek promotional campaign that showcases the beaty of Haiti. Dodard notes Haitians are warm, humble, and inviting - humor is therefor an ideal way to speak out and stand up for Haiti. If you would like to support the campaign, take a look at the GoFundMe page. The full article by AdFreak writer Tim Nudd follows.
Haiti is a troubled but beautiful country, more sinned against than sinning, betrayed at times even by even those who claim to be its friends. Many who have lived or worked in Haiti know the kindness, the decency, and the resiliency of the Haitian people - this is where the true beauty of the country lies. For those who have not had the chance, take a bit of time to learn about Haiti. Here is a brief National Geographic Video about Haitian photographers who portray their communities as they, rather than others, see them. Older blogs on "Haiti in Photos" (Part One and Part Two) show Haiti as it really is rather than people perceive it to be. Finally below is an article by Mother Jones writer Nathalie Baptiste on the responsibility that countries such as the United States and France bear for Haiti's current situation.
In the excellent New York Times article below, Catherine Porter states that death is a plentiful resource in Haiti given that the life expectancy of Haitian is 63.4 years - twelve years below the Latin American and Caribbean average. Dying in Haiti is expensive - families often take out loans at exorbitant rates to provide funerals for loved ones while other families are forced to abandon their remains. These bodies would be dumped like garbage, as was the case in the past, but for the efforts of St. Luke Foundation volunteers who transport them for simple, cost-free burials. Haiti is full of heroes, and the volunteers who provide dignity in death to those who lacked it in life, are amongst them.
Below is a beautiful article (with similarly beautiful photos) taken by New York Times contributer Peter Kujawisnki. The author, who previously lived in Haiti, visited as a tourist recently and reflects on what has and has not changed. As with many of us who previously lived in Haiti, his memories are complicated and filters what he experiences now as a visitor. He sees signs of progress and the potential renewal of long dormant tourism in a country that remains much in need of livelihood opportunities. Visting Haiti, and experiecing what it has to offer, as he puts it is now neither brave nor unusual - just normal.