Haiti has 99 problems, but being a shithole ain’t one

Happy New Year!

Yes, I realize that it’s January 26, 2017, it’s still January, so Happy New Year!

I’ve been MIA; I was sick, and now I’m back!  Hope your new year has been fantastic thus far.

I spent the new year in my birthplace of Haiti. I would like to share with you the last time I was there but you would judge me harshly, and I’m sensitive. I spent my time exploring the island and getting reacquainted with its system and infrastructure. The act of going back to one’s birthplace is an emotional one, and when that homeland is Haiti, the feelings are compounded.

I’m sure we have all heard of donald’s “shithole” comment, and because I am sensitive and had just returned to the U.S. when that comment was fresh, it’s taken me a while express how I feel. I had to process my feelings and woosah instead of being petty but also because I refuse to participate in respectability politics to assuage someone who doesn’t seem to care about the humanity of others. Instead of getting angry over what he said or trying to persuade individuals that Haitians are human beings who are complex like every other human on this planet, I wanted to take the time to share pictures and the beautiful experience I had a couple of weeks ago in this lovely country.

Haiti has a vibrant history and being the first black republic has not come without its share of struggles. However, struggle is not the only story of Haiti. The people are hardworking and want what everyone else in the whole world wants; safety, housing, clean water, education, adequate health care, and job opportunities. Also, Haiti is blessed with mystical creativity at every turn. From its many natural-born artists; writers, painters, musicians; to makeshift inventors and engineers, the culture is rich with expression, storytelling, and hope. It is those wants, expressions, stories, and hope that drive Haitians to search for better opportunities in faraway lands and connect with the world.

I traveled to Haiti with a close friend to celebrate the New Year and Haitian Independence Day (celebrated on January 1st). It was the first time in a long time that I would be observing Haiti’s independence in the country itself. The sense of pride was palpable. I didn’t have to do anything other than just be, to commemorate the spirit of my ancestors in the land they fought for (and of course enjoy soup joumou). We planned to act as tourists in our homeland and enjoy all that Haiti had to offer. We stayed with family and friends, explored terrific beaches, and ate wonderful Haitian cuisines. We visited lounges with spectacular views of the city and restaurants nestled in cozy gardens filled with flowers and trees. Haiti has it all and so much more. We traveled to Port-au-Prince, Petionville, and Arcahaie, home to pristine beaches and many resorts including the popular Kaliko Beach Club, Royal Decameron Indigo Beach Resort and Spa and Wahoo Bay Beach.

Indeed, there’s progress in Haiti, albeit, very slow, and in 2018 that was frustrating for me. As you travel throughout Haiti, you will see poverty, you will see the struggle, and you might even find yourself frustrated with the poor infrastructure, but I also hope that you search for the beauty and the soul of the people. As my favorite author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would say, there is danger in a single story, so it’s important to hear “overlapping stories” or risk “critical misunderstanding.”

In light of what’s going on in the world, we must see the graciousness of people who are continuously struck by hardship but work endlessly to overcome them only to have another disaster smacked them before restoration. Whether it presents itself in the form of government policies, mother nature, or rude, discriminatory comments, Haitians continue to meet it with dignity. So, go to Haiti. I have always believed that travel is political and revolutionary, for it introduces you to new ways, people, and culture. Countries have barred residents from exploring different borders for fear that they may awaken and see others and realize, we are all the same. If you have the opportunity, go. Enjoy the beaches, enjoy the food, enjoy the parties, enjoy the art, but most importantly enjoy the stories of a nation that had always bounced back when the world was adamant about keeping it down.

To travel is to know and you’ll never know until you go to Haiti.

Until next time,

Gone Solo