Cite Soleil Trip Today
I plan to visit one of the worst slums on the planet today, whatever that means. The words slum, ghetto, the hood, and add the image of Black, this can elicit fear in an American. As an American, we are trapped, how can we explain our fears without somebody saying we are racist, it is a no win situation. This is Africa and Black countries like Haiti, a wise person walks on the other side of the street, we do our best keep the subject out of our minds.
Europeans are worst than American, they have thousands of years of Kings and Queens, it is ingrained into their minds, nobility, the superiors do not associate with inferiors. They do not say things that confuse them, like,
“All men are created equal.”
Now, let me think, what was my fear today, what was my fear yesterday?
I am worried, will Mathew, my little drunken friend show up. I almost called him a guide, but this would be ludicrous. I am positive, all day today, I will be saying,
“Shut up Mathew, you are not my guide; you are here to help, not to lead.”
Port-au-Prince, Haiti --- Monday, December 28, 2009
By Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com
There is always an Alpha Male thing going on in African Cultures, and a great reason why people should not visit Africa, or Haiti. Modern cultures have made women the man, and man the women, just another confusing story.
I am going to pay him 500 Gourde, about 12 US Dollars him to go with me to Cite Soleil. I have to make the decision at 7:30, if he does not show up, do I go alone. I have already paid him 100 to be committal, and another 100 two days ago because he begged. He is an annoying and likeable person when he is not drinking, or broke. He would make great alcoholic if he had a welfare check and food stamps.
This is maybe the point, Haitians do not have free money as best I know, and they must pay for their vices on their own. I have not even had a whiff of guns, drugs, violence, or extreme alcoholism. Mathew learned to drink in Dominican Republic; he worked in Puerto Plata selling Timeshares. Go figure, this is tantamount to be in Used Car Salesperson in the USA, there is probably nothing more sucker punch, then selling Timeshares.
Taxi drivers, Car Salesmen, Real Estate Agents, Internet Pages, one of these days, I will be clear, which profession is the least reputable. I will say, selling Timeshares is as close to being a Con man as it gets.
Do you understand how I feel; I am going to one of the worst slums on the planet with a little alcoholic con man. He is truly a good guy, when he is not drinking or talking too much. Want to know how to tell when an alcoholic is lying.
“His mouth is moving.”
I am slowly starting to believe this about Travel Writers, or people who write Blogs, I know for sure the majority of people who want to work in Orphanages, Missionaries, and Non Governmental Agencies are the slick ones, they for sure lying when their mouth is moving.
Oops, I forgot Journalist, they make lying an art form.
Good, I am getting in touch with what I am feeling, that rant made it clear, what do I think about Cite Soleil. Everyone who writes about the place is a liar. I love generalizations, they make my day…
Now, this is the kicker, I do not think the people inside of Cite Soleil are liars, I can almost guarantee they have given themselves permission to beg from me. It is socially acceptable for Black People from Haiti to beg, it is socially acceptable from Black American to make a white person afraid until they give up the cash for some stupid reason. This is the same as Car Salesman, they can make you feel like you are insulting them by not listening or buying their car.
This is Mathew; he comes up and berates me, blah, blah, blah, I need money, why don’t you trust me. It is funny, too funny, I told him, and I am the champion of no. I have been to India, I know the world, on any given day, 10-50 people ask me for money. I feel no remorse; you are crapola when you ask.
He is full of crap, and he is a good guy, he is both, he is not naturally crap, and he just took the wrong path. The other day he said he gave up drinking. I am laughing, I have been sober now for 22 years, almost 23, he is an alcoholic, he then said, maybe I will just have a beer now and then. I said, the only reason you are not drunk is you have no money, I then gave him 100 Gourde, about two good drunks here, I have not seen him for two days.
Africa and Haiti does not have many of these types, there are 10 to 50 times more in the USA, I am sure Miami is full of this talk-too-much, and annoy me by trying to say they are my friend types.
When I describe Mathew, I am describing the writers who write about Haiti, and they just cannot keep it is balance. Nevertheless, this is the problem, how do I say the word “Slum,” without making my mother afraid. She is 100 percent corn fed, Indiana born naïve, she has an on, or off button inhere head, all slum are dangerous, remember, I watch movies.
The slums of Haiti are dirty, when it is muddy, it is muddy, it is slimy, Varanasi, is twice as bad, Haiti has some areas that are a challenge to Varanasi for the king of slime.
Stories and more stories, ok, let me try to explain situations like Haiti, or Iraq, or anywhere nobody wants to go. I will tell you a story about alcoholism. There is this inferred obligation, this social contract between recovering alcoholics, we are supposed to help other alcoholics. You know, pray for them, assist them, listen to their lies, try to encourage them and give them hope.
What is the first goal of helping another alcoholic?
To not get drunk with the person.
This happens a lot, a sober person goes to help a person who is drunk, and they both get drunk, and it turns into a Birthday Party for Doc in the book Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.
No Mans Lands
I think anyone reading about no-man-lands should read with extreme skepticism, it is better to just generalize and say the writers are all liars, then to believe what they write. People do not go to no-man-lands and write about them, they listen to a lot of gossip, and then write a plausible, sellable story. Haiti is a no-mans-land.
Selling a Story on Haiti
This is the problem, a good person come to Haiti to help, then like the Alcoholic wanting to help another Alcoholic, they get drunk with the story. What percentage of people will not exploit an opportunity, this is difficult to access. However, I have been in enough no-mans-land, place where I was the only Tourist to know, it is about 99 percent lies. There are idiots who will make going to Thailand an adventure.
I think there are two rules to remember when writing about the world,
1. We are all idiots, it is not possible to know the world.
2. Remember rule number one.
I am explaining a snapshot opinion, I could be 100 percent wrong, maybe I am right.
How to Exploit a Story
This is easy, exaggerate, write down about bunch of statistic, tell the world about the atrocities, the crisis, the panic situations, try to bring fear, compassion and a human story to rather boring situation. Yes, remember to take a photo is difficult to find, but exist, maybe a starving baby, this would be perfect.
If you do that, you will sell a story about Haiti. CNN will put it on the television and sell advertising to Non Governmental Organizations, they spin and stir up the story, then the USAid will send money, all will get rich.
I am forever grateful I can travel and not owe anyone for my daily bread. I earn about the same whether I am in Haiti or Cancun, life is the same.
Where is the Haiti story?
I was in Silopi, Turkey; I was going to cross the border into Iraq, 99 percent of the people said,
“They will kill you.”
I went anyway, there is a story there somewhere, I am still alive.
Confusion is the Devils best Friend
I know writers live in a “Liar Lair,” I know captivating stories can be written about a “No-Mans-Land,” where nobody wishes to enter. What is worst, I know the only story a person can write that is the truth, would be, and must be confusing. This is the Writers Devils Bargain, we must all agree to agree, milk these stories for all they are worth.
We live our lives on a small precipice, we pretend it is not so, we want to say, all is safe, I am fine, there is no lions at the gate. We try to pretend we are no confused, we tell stories of our adventures after the fact, full of clear, concise, consistent comments.
Confusion is the small precipices we live on, we try to not be confused, but sometimes we are, we are in denial. We listen to other people; there are voices in our head. We do not want to be confused, but we are, what can we do, the safe thing is to stay at home, keep the door shut, listen to the stories about confusion. However, we must not be a player in this game, it is too dangerous, armchair experts, that is the new generation, I can say,
“I read this,” more factual than going to see ourselves.
I read and listen to many confusing stories; I know that 99 percent of them are lies. There is the chance; I come upon the 1 in a 100, the lion that eats me.
What is going to happen today, I hope Mathew shows up, if he does not, I will figure out this trip on my own. I do not speak Creole, this is my big problem. Other than that, I know the ending to this story, at least 99 percent of the time; it will be just another boring day in Paradise.
I know today, I can go anywhere, providing I am on good spiritual grounds. There is spirit within each of us; this spirit listens to little voices. One voice represents confusion, it is exciting, full of energy, and like the songs of the sirens, and it is intoxicating. The other voice is boring, reasonable, and wants me to stay the course.
They asked Henry David Theroux if he was at peace with God, he said,
“I never knew us to argue.”
I know today, just for today, I will not argue with the voice of reason. Boring as it may seem, I will for today, stay the course. I will not allow argue, I the difference between right and wrong, everyone does. Then we see the lion, and we forget.
I have an obligation to explain my confusion before, not after the fact; there are two sides to all adventure, or extreme travel.
Cite Soleil Trip Today
Great ramble on confusion before travel. Liars liars...boring but true. Stay the course. I enjoyed a small window onto my past.