Haiti – First Impressions

It’s been two months since we arrived in the Haiti, La Perle des Antilles (the pearl of the Antilles), so it’s about time you heard some of our first impressions.

So here's our literal first impression - that's Ile de la Tortue (Tortuga) off the northern coast of Haiti. It's where Columbus landed in 1492 and was later the base for French buccaneers (pirates).

So here’s our literal first impression – that’s Ile de la Tortue (Tortuga) off the northern coast of Haiti. It’s where Columbus landed in 1492 and was later the base for French buccaneers (pirates).

  • Food: Delicious! Even my heat-resistant pallet, loves the Creole spice.  A few weekends ago on the beach in Jacmel we ate fresh lobster with fried savory plantains and pikliz, an amazing coleslaw type relish with hot peppers and cabbage.  We also tried grilled lambi (conch), that reminded me a lot of octopus. Creole goat, fish, and chicken dishes all served with a rice and beans mixture have equally wooed us!  No offense to our dearest Ugandan and British friends, but Haiti is easily winning the food competition.

    Grilled lobster on the beach - so amazing.

    Grilled lobster on the beach – so amazing.

  • Prices: High.  Haiti’s expansive wealth gap, astronomical import costs, and lack of a domestic food sector mean that groceries are the most expensive we’ve seen anywhere.  A gallon of orange juice costs $10, a box of cereal $11, a tiny bottle of laundry detergent $8.  We try to buy local to support the local economy and cut out import costs, but even then a dozen local eggs cost over $3.
  • Language: Rewarding. This is the first time I’ve lived in a non-anglophone country, and so far the experience is incredibly rewarding.  All morning at work I interview visa applicants in Creole, then do my best to keep my French fresh with my Haitian colleagues.  At social events, English is often spoken with other expats, but David and I try to stick to Creole or French with our Haitian and French friends.
  • Social Scene:  Welcoming. Just a few weeks after arriving in Haiti we were already invited for a weekend out of town with a new group of friends.  And ever since then it’s been easy to meet people — well, easy to meet other expats that is.  Haitians are a bit harder to meet and get to know (due to differing social scenes and language barriers), but we’ve met several very cool Haitian folks who we look forward to getting to know better.

    New friends at Jacmel Carnival

    New friends at Jacmel Carnival

  • Smoking: Blah. French colonial legacy + Island culture = people smoke a lot – of everything – indoors, which is not my favorite.
  • Housing: Perfect.  We live on the second floor in a three bedroom apartment on top of a hill overlooking part of Port-au-Prince and the mountains. Although the place feels comically over-sized for just the two of us, having a big kitchen and dining room table is just the best.  Please visit us, the unused half of our apartment is lonely!
View from our porch - calling you to come visit!

View from our porch – calling you to come visit!

One reason that we haven’t been as active on this blog is my (Faith) father’s failing health, my sister and I have started a blog on our journey with him which can be read here at  CJDad.wordpress.com.
Advertisements

One response to “Haiti – First Impressions

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s