New Teachers New Friends New Travels in Haiti

friends in the water at wahoo bay haiti

The new school year- and my last in Haiti- starts with a bang! We got a new housemate, Lisa, as well as another whole house full of ex-pat teachers! Five new teachers who now live together, plus the five at our house. We introduced them to our friends around Petionville, including our friend Rafael (who took Jonathan’s place at the sugar company), Jean Marc (a cousin of Monica’s who has returned to Haiti to run a family construction business), Chris (works at the embassy), and a few others.  We’ve been hashing a couple of times, including a hash by the dump, where they are building the new embassy, as well as a couple around Pacot, where Jean Marc, Chris, and Rafael live.

A few new clubs have opened up, including a Lebanese restaurant called MacDoo’s -great food and hookah pipes- and we still go dancing at Club Barak, and Boucane Gregoire has a nice outdoor atmosphere.  Tom goes with us a lot, although Sue has been staying home more, as she is pregnant!  We also sometimes see Fran, Melissa, and Kasson and Olivia, the teachers at the Juvenat house.  Malushcka and other hashers are sometimes seen at Boucane, and meeting up at Resto Bar St. Pierre has that “almost home” feeling of the neighborhood bar. On Wednesdays I tutor two of my students and have dinner with their parents, and I’ve been spending more time at the Petionville Club– a cute boy I like is often there. Pia and I bought a car together, so suddenly we are a lot more mobile!

In October, me, Lisa, Jean Marc, Pia, and Chris went to Jean Marc’s beach house to stay for a weekend.  There was a beach concert out at Club Kaliko and that was pretty fun.  It was great visiting the beach and eating all kinds of fresh seafood.

For my birthday I went to the beaches in the Dominican Republic for a really short (24 hour!) All Saint’s holiday.  We all spent Thanksgiving vacation at my number one vacation spot:  Andy and Monica’s mountain house.  It was a fabulous meal and a wonderful, relaxing weekend, although it was also sad, as this was the first holiday without Hans Peter.  While visiting one of the beaches in October, he apparently contracted malaria, and he died in early November, quite unexpectedly.  It has been a very sad time for Ingrid, Hans Ryan, and Verenna.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Chris, going to different functions.  There was a UN party at La Reserve (ironically, right on our own street), which I wound up attending.  We have also been to a UN photography exhibit of our acquaintance Sophie’s, and a dinner and awards ceremony at the Pakistani UN camp.  It’s been really interesting to see the military side of Haiti. Lisa and I went to the Marine Ball and danced it up all evening.

I decided to split my Christmas holiday between home and Haiti- I went to Íle-á-Vache with Chris for a few days, then home for Christmas. I’ll be heading back to Haiti to spend the New Year’s Eve- there’s going to be a big concert and party at the Oloffson Hotel and RAM is playing!

A trip to the Dominican Republic, and the Marine Ball in Haiti

Dominican Republic Deah Boca Chica

A vacation, at last! After 10 weeks of work, we have two days off to celebrate All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days (although I prefer to think of it as extra days to celebrate Deah’s Birthday). Tom is with the volleyball team in Venezuela for our tri-annual CAISSA tournament. Sue has gone to Florida to visit her sister and her mom, and I am going to Santo Domingo with my friend Nicole.

Nicole and three of her colleagues from the UN and I all drove to Santo Domingo together. The traffic getting out of Petionville/ Port-au-Prince was horrible, but we were able to cruise right through the border because we had diplomatic privileges, which extend to everyone in the car, so I didn’t have to go through the border hassle or pay the exit tax (which I have always maintained is a big fraud anyway). Before we knew it, we were in Santo Domingo and Nicole and I found our hotel, the Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando.

Hotel Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando

On Saturday Nicole and I got up early, jogged around the Zona Colonia, and ate a huge breakfast. The Colonial Zone is where Columbus built the first settlement on the island. His brother was the first governor of the area, and Columbus’ son lived there also. We saw the Cathedral Primera de las Americas, the first Catholic Church built in the Western Hemisphere. We walked along the Conde, went to an amber museum (amber and laramar are two of the Dominican’s major gemstones) and had a guide show us a few other sites. On Saturday evening our friends Lauren, John, Grace, and Conrad flew over from Port-au-Prince and we all went out to dinner in the Colonial Zone at Pat’e Palo, a restaurant which I would definitely recommend. Then we wandered around and went to various outdoor bars and clubs, listening to salsa music, Dominican music, and Cuban music.

Zona Colonia

On Sunday Nicole and I went jogging around the Zone again and went to breakfast. There we ran into the Griegs, two friends of ours from the Embassy in Haiti (see, everyone leaves and goes to the DR). We chatted with them for a while, then Nicole and I got a taxi to Boca Chica, a beach town about 20 miles away from the city. On the way over it rained but it appeared the storm was heading into Santo Domingo, not towards the beach. We made it out to the beach around 2 and slept in the sun all afternoon. What a relaxing afternoon. Later, we walked up and down the beach and visited all the beach bars and shops.

At the beach in Boca Chica

On Monday I visited the international school to meet with some of their teachers about curriculum. I stayed the night with one, and arrived at the bus station the next day to return to Haiti. Unfortunately, the bus was full and I had to get another taxi and haul ass over to a different bus station. That bus, too, was full, but they ordered another one. After a two and a half hour wait, we finally left-so late that we got to the border dangerously close to closing time, so they basically just waved us through.

At the marine Ball Haiti
Deah and Micah at the Marine Ball

In November I attended the Marine Ball, a great chance to dress up and enjoy some dinner, some dancing, and some drinking with friends!  I accompanied my dear friend Micah to the ball this year. My favorite part? Watching the Marines cut a giant cake with a sword.