By Ryan McDaniel:
I spent the day in Port Au Prince with Alexandre and Chris today. I’ve only been in the city a handful of times and they usually entailed going to the airport. Our main errand in town concerned talking with a plastics company to build the mold for the diffuser basin project that Chris and I have been working on. We are trying to fund the cost of the mold with a crowdfunding website called Indiegogo and once we have the mold we want to produce the basins locally, hence the plastics company.
We had a few other errands to run in Port, including looking for a motorcycle and getting a new office chair for Chris. The motorcycle shop we went to in Petionville gave us the runaround and didn’t want to accept cash, so we have decided to wait for a shop closer to Alexandre’s house to get a delivery of bikes in. While we were in Petionville, we stopped in to say hello to Chris and Leslie’s friend Lauren. She just opened a boutique hotel and restaurant with about 12 rooms. We drove towards downtown and along the way, we went to a restaurant that Chris and Alexandre like because it is quiet and has air-conditioning. As Chris explained later, both attributes are hard to come by in the capital.
Near the end of the day, we went downtown to get a new bolt for the Sante Fe, which was a little unnerving. There were people standing around everywhere, and when we stopped outside of a small shop 10 guys ran over to try and help. We finally got the part we needed and were headed back to Alexandre’s house across town. As we were leaving, we passed venders selling anything you could possibly desire along the gridded city center. Chris pointed out a main bank branch surrounded with private security guards who were armed with shotguns. Chris was a little disappointed because apparently the guards usually have Uzis in hand. I was then a little bummed too.
For some reason I have always enjoyed big cities and Port Au Prince is no different. Despite the smell of fecal matter infused with burning garbage and the immense poverty that most of the residents live in, there were some gorgeous views. Its hard to beat an elevated view of the ocean in the heart of the Caribbean. The city is crammed with history, and as we drove around Alexandre shared some of the city’s history as well as some of his experiences while living there. I was loving every minute of it.