Dye Mon, Gen Mon (Mountains beyond mountains)
It is good practice to write down your field notes immediately upon getting to a place where you can do so.
I started jotting notes in my notebook as soon as I got on the plane from Miami to PAP. At the gate, I noticed an array of black people, most of which speaking Kreyol. The gate workers spoke Kreyol too. Most people thought that I was of Haitian descent and spoke Kreyol to me before english. Though I’ve been studying for the past year, the speed and intensity by which the language is spoken make it hard for me to understand. I tried my best though. I speak too slowly, so much so that people don’t understand me. I’m far from conducting any in depth interviews in Haitian.
On the plane, and in the airport baggage area, there were many white people that as far as I could tell were coming to Haiti on a mission of the religious sort. One group had bright orange tee shirts on, and looked frankly like a brigade of soldiers for Christ, that said in Kreyol, “Believe that Jesus is your saviour and you will be saved”. While waiting for my luggage I overheard a conversation that reveals the skepticism and fear for safety that these missionaries come to the country with. “We must have caught them on there midday siesta [because the bags are taking too long to get out], or they are just going through our stuff,” an elder man said. “I know. People have been eyeing our bags even when they don’t look like anyone else’s,” a younger man responded. One boy, an asian-decsent teenager, had a certain look of fear in his eye. These people were preparing for war, the war for Christ and the savior of souls.
My bags got lost along the way, and I had to wait for them to get into PAP on the next flight. Thankfully, my driver was very patient and waited for me diligently. Finally, with my bag in hand, we headed outside where we were met with the fierce warm winds of PAP. A sea of people, mostly black, waited behind a gate for their family members to walk out through the small door. I’m immediately struck by the large, seemingly endless hills and mountains.
In the car, I ask Nick-Olson, my driver, simple questions in English and Kreyol, while taking in the overwhelming scenery. This isn’t my first time in the so-called developing world, but what I saw was something very different than I’ve ever seen: A nude black glistening as he washed himself on the side of a main road, street vendors selling shoes, belts, sugar cane mangoes, scattered everywhere along the side walks, people walking in the middle of the streets as cars weave around them. From the air, I noted how much it reminded me of San Diego, yet on the ground it couldn’t have felt anymore foreign. There were trees but no birds, and the landscape is dominated by concrete structures, most of them dilapidated. I wondered to myself, how is it that there are no birds, and no wildlife, here? I saw one tiny sparrow-looking creature at the airport, and nothing else. Even New York City has wildlife. PAP has sad dogs.
I’ve got to pay close attention to the environment which is mostly, a built and destroyed environment. Perhaps I’ll take a walk to one of the parks next week.