Haiti a Taste of Africa
There is something close to the earth, and stable about watching women wash clothes in the river. This is natural, the way life should feel, there is no second-guessing, this job needs done.
What is Africa like, do you want to know? Well, for 400-500 Dollars a person can buy a round-trip ticket to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, take an overpriced taxi north two hours to Mirebalais. You can be standing by this river having a small taste of Africa.
This girl smiles, she may slowly over the years become one of the plump ones. Today, just for today, she is all things good and happy.
Mirebalais, Haiti --- Tuesday, January 5, 2010
By Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com
If you asked these women,
“How long does it take to wash the clothes?”
I do not believe they know, time almost stops when living this way, you walk to the river, and when your are done, you are done.
These women sit around in the water talking, I get angry, often frustrated, when one of them wants to tell me, “we suffer.” I just cannot wrap my mind around that idea. I sometimes will say,
“Who told you that, where did you learn this?”
The world does not have the right to tell happy people, they suffer, it just is not proper. Only and unhappy person would tell another person they suffer.
If you look closely at this photo, you will see that one woman is bending over, as if she was going to put her elbows on the ground. This is Africa; this is what makes a Black body different. If you go Asia, these women would be squatting on the stone, there is a difference, we are not all the same, and we are, who we are. Modern society washes away the family memories, our ancestors die, and we no longer can remember who we are. Maybe this is how I feel, walking down to the river, I somehow can remember my family.
The majority of cities are built close to rivers, lakes, and ponds, there must be a source of fresh water. Mirebalais is small enough; it remembers that water is needed for life to exist.
There are clothes drying on the stones.
My Grandparents have died; I wish I had asked them more questions, instead of being in such a hurry to go nowhere. Well, I think I finally found the word, why do go to Africa? It is because when I arrive at a small river like this in Africa, I know I am somewhere; I will be able to bend over and pick up a memory, put it in my pocket, and know I will never lose it.
I will always be able to tell my family, there was a time, when I went somewhere. When you escape, you will slowly open your eyes, the world will start to go slower, and you remember how to pick up memories along the road.
Haiti a Taste or Africa
I totally agree with you. We have no right to go about imposing our ways of life on other countries and people. We condemn history for doing it. Why do we spend so much time and money repeating the mistakes we acknowledge.
Why should we tell a woman washing clothes on a river bank she is unhappy because she does not have a car payment, credit card payment and a membership in a tennis club. It is our right to belong to a golf country club, be a stock broker, and get old and die of a stress induced heart attack at age 45. But we should not tell her she has to follow in our footsteps. And we should not put a guilt trip on her by hiring a bunch of NGO types to come and tell her should convert to our religion.
We have NGO missionaries here where I live in the Philippines. They stay at $150 dollar per night hotels, drink a fifth of whiskey or rum every night and use really foul language. There are lots of very nice hotels in Manila for $40 us per night. And you do not have to be chronically drunk to be a good missionary.
Why do we consider an Iraqi woman living in a bombed out apartment with no water, and no electricity fortunate because we are there. But we consider the happy woman on the river bank unhappy and unfortunate because we haven't yet invaded her country and bombed it. I think a lot of unhappy people try to be happy by putting their guilt trips on other happy people
So we get them all maytags and then they can sit and watch the maytag do the work. Then they can be alone and then wonder when they can afford an exercise machine so they can lose the pounds they gained while they sat by themselves and watched the maytag. Or we can let them have their social time together and be exercising while they do some work. Do they look especially unhappy. Maybe they haven't been told yet that they are really unhappy.
Or if we could build enough maytags then the whole world could get fat and die of early diabetes. What a happy thought. Misery loves company.
Thank You Andy. You brought Haiti alive to us armchair travelers. Great picture journalism.