Yesterday we took our staff and our visitors to Port au Prince for the day. We don’t normally do this, but decided to change things up a bit.
Our first stop was the National Museum. We had one guide that did the tour for our staff in Creole, and one that did the tour in English for our guests. The museum isn’t large, but it’s well done and worth the visit. The English guide was the same one we had last time Chris and I were there so I got to chat with him a bit more, I learned some new Creole phrases and learned some new tidbits of Haiti’s history. I like that Chris and I have made the effort to speak Creole because people here really do appreciate it. For us, aside from being a personal security thing, it’s a respect thing. We want to make the effort to show people that we respect the culture enough to speak to them in their own language. As we were walking through the special exhibit section of the museum at the end of the tour I asked our guide a question about a Creole phrase I’d heard and it sparked a conversation about learning Creole and him sharing that he was really impressed that Chris and I had made the effort, and he complimented me on how good our Creole was, which is always nice to hear.
We weren’t without adventure. On the way into town Chris got a flat on the van, so we had it fixed, and after we came out of the museum it was flat again. While he and a couple of the guys changed the tire the rest of us walked across the road to the National Palace. While they have started removing rubble from the site, the country is a long way from seeing the palace standing again.
I didn’t get a chance to take a picture, but we were right downtown in what is considered city center, and the area is called Champs De Mars. Designed as an open, almost park like area, after the earthquake it became a tent city. The contrast of national monuments and tents was striking. In the last couple of months efforts have been started to move people out of the area and to rehabilitate it to it’s previous condition (or better). Yesterday I noticed that a majority of the tents/homemade shelters have been moved and things were being cleared and cleaned up. Large piles of garbage were being burned and outhouses had been relocated from where they were previously.
After the museum we headed up to the Baptist Mission for lunch. It’s so nice and cool up there and the view across the valley to all the hillsides covered in terrace farming is amazing. After lunch we started to head for home, and on the way stopped at the outlook over Port au Prince. The view is amazing and it gives you the opportunity to see the sprawl of Port and get an idea of where things are.
It was a great day!