Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Friday, June 5

Port au Prince (PaP), the capital of Haiti, is a huge city right on the water, bursting with color that pops off buildings, clothing, and plant life. Everyone and everything just radiates so so much color! It was hot and humid and at times I felt that my face would melt right off onto the dusty ground. It was crowded and filled with traffic. But it was also peaceful, with a breeze at night, and sometimes a soothing rainstorm.

But most of all, it was fascinating. If you haven't read the brief history/intro I did on Haiti, you can start with that here. I was by and large surprised that PaP (and really all of Haiti) had so little tourist infrastructure. You know how most big cities will have an area where you can walk around, do some shopping, see the old town center? Not really so in PaP. There are certainly things to see and do, but not a main drag where people congregate. Most of the things to see in PaP are rather spread out, so it required some driving (which was just as interesting taking in daily life while cruising through the city!)

Can I just say Haitians carry stuff on their head like a BOSS! Like truly... women, children, men...old and young, just put whatever they need to carry on their head. I was amazed (which is why you'll see so many pics of people carrying things on their head!). My last day there I literally saw an old woman walking around with her purse on her head! I couldn't stop giggling #forgetthestraps

People also sell stuff wherever they can hang stuff! If there was a wall, there were clothes, blankets, shoes...whatever man! If you can hang it, you can sell it! People did what they could to eek out a life for themselves, to make ends meat for their family, to put food on the table. Same as anywhere else. I certainly was impressed with the creativity!

Katharine was an incredible tour guide and took me to some iconic Port au Prince landmarks: The Oloffson Hotel, a view of the whole city from the top of Boutelliers, the Apparent Project workshop, Champ de Mars boulevard (where the statue of the Le Negre Marron is located), and their favorite restaurant called Quarter Latin where we spent a dreamy night eating under the glow of a lantern. (I will share more about each of these places in another post!)

I'm well aware that I did not sample all parts of Port au Prince. There are many neighborhoods where the poverty is unbelievable, and the crime rampant. My friends have worked in these neighborhoods (such as Cite Cité Soleil) and spent evenings sharing about the heart wrenching disparity they experienced. I'm sure many of you who have been on mission trips to PaP could share similar stories. So most of my pictures are taken of daily life in and around the neighborhoods of PaP, along with specific venues we went to!

Most of my time was spent just being present with my dear friends as they shared their life with me in the city. They took me to their workplace with the Mennonite Central Committee, where they do public policy and advocacy work and I was able to meet their co-workers. Most nights we made dinner, sat on their rooftop as the sun set and talked the night away (swatting mosquitos and drinking cold beverages), enjoying the presence of one another, as old friends do. It truly was a wonderful time. Enjoy the pictures!

{This is a breadfruit, which Ted and Katharine have growing in their yard! Ted picked a bunch and fried them up for us...they were delicious! A cross between a french fry and a plantain chip! noms!}

{Quartin Latin, a very vintage and imaginative restaurant with delicious food!} 

{The houses above and below were built in the iconic "Gingerbread" style, popular in Haiti in the late 1800's and early 1900's! Many of them survived the earthquake and give way to PaP's past!} 

This statue represents the slaves that banded together to break free from their oppressors!

{The Hotel Oloffson, below, also built in the Gingerbread style}

Happy Weekend Friends!! Next week i'll be sharing more Haiti pictures (and a give-away!!) so stay tuned!! My sister comes to visit this weekend, so i'm a happy camper!! xoxo 

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