Haiti for a week


IĎve been in Haiti for a week and just spent the week-end in the mountains near the town of Hinche. We are heading back to Port-au-Prince today and the journey is full of surprises.
This morning, the coffee is so sweet itís unpalatable. I feel like Iíve had one too many Dominican Benedicta ciders the night before so I opt for the boiled yam instead.
My haitian friend Edeline announces that before we leave, we need to give her a lift and accompany her to a funeral in the region of Sodo (Saut-d'Eau), an important site of Voodoo pilgrimage. One of her employees has suddenly died and she must make an appearance.
Edeline asks me to take my camera. ĎWhat do you want me to photograph?Ē ďJust take a few pictures of the bodyĒ. As we turn up late, the coffin is already sealed; Iím glad as this is not how I had envisaged my sunday.
We enter the church through the back and I find myself on the stage, on the right of the priest and his men. I feel quite strange; I watch the widow in the front row, sheís sobbing. There are about 200 people here. The priest is very dramatic; a few women have already entered a trance. I sing along and feel like I might faint. Finally, we are given the heads up to leave.
Michel is waiting outside, talking to the people who couldnít fit into the church. He tells me that the deceased started feeling ill after leaving his first wife for another. Neighbours say itís pretty likely his ex used spells; Voodoo serves well those seeking revenge.
Upon leaving the church, we drive past a lorry packed with beautiful cows, lovely big horns that shine. It may be the vegetarian in me but I find the image deeply shocking. They have been packed in so tightly that some have their legs, broken, protruding out the sides of the truck. Their journey will end on the dusty market stall where their flesh, devoured by flies and maggots, will cook under the 35 degree sun. Should I feel sorry for these cows when their human counterparts live in such destitute conditions? I do. To me, itís all part of the same problem.
Iím feeling very ill as we return to the capital; the journey is a bit like being sat on a washing machine;
Later, we stop for some petrol; Iím sitting in the car, staring out the window, with my head resting on my hand. One of the young men working here nods and says: ĎíThatís no good. It means you are thinking!í. Heís right. There are some things in Haiti itís just better not to think about.



A Dickinson

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