Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Working at the Hotel Villa Creole

Riding shotgun with Lemoune, I saw the first displaced persons camp right outside the airport.  Later I would be informed that it was a fairly small one as the camps go.  The heat was blistering, the traffic snarled, and the people were moving with purpose and determination.  No one I could see seemed to be in a state of mourning for the dead or for the death of a way of ife.

I saw political grafitti foretelling the November presidential elections.  I remember seeing Justin Celestin's name.  Cell phone and other billboards proliferated along the road.  PAP is fairly hilly, and when we combined congested traffic, bad roads, and eight month-old rubble, our progress slowed to a crawl.

I recognized that the neighborhood might be where I would stay that night, Christ Roi.  I confirmed that with Lemoune, my driver.  The Hotel Villa Creole is situated in Pétionville, in the verdant hills above PAP.  It turned out to be an oasis that had largely survived the earthquake (more on that in a later post).  I met my new co-workers, co-volunteers (I'm not the only one donating time, but I'm the only professor.).

After reading environmental reports to get up to speed, I rested in the Sun Mountain hotel room (definitely not a suite).  Later, I would spy an article by Amy Wilentz in the Sept. 6 New Yorker about the upcoming elections ("Running in the Ruins")  The piece conveys the color and corruption of Haitian politics and deserves a read, especially for the contrastng portraits of René Préval, the outgoing president who is fond of siestas and rap artist Sweet Micky Martelly, the real Wyclef Jean, an eligible candidate who can reach the people in their favorite language, Haitian Creole.

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