After a five year hiatus, I decided to make a short visit to Haiti, two weeks ago. The purpose of this recent trip was not for our usual medical mission trips, but rather for an exploratory venture. I must say that every second that I spent there was time well spent. It was so refreshing to sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the hidden gems in Haiti that I’ve been missing for a while.
I visited several places, including Port-au-Prince, Cotes-de-Fer, Aquin, and of course my beloved hometown, Zanglais. I enjoyed so many precious moments with my mom, my very talented cousins/second cousins, aunts and uncles, new found friends, local business owners, and nature.
I arrived in Port-au-Prince and my mom picked me up from the airport. Mom lives in the US, but she loves to spend months at a time in Haiti. I guess I get my love for country from her. Both of us were very excited to see one another. She hugged me ever so tight and told me how happy she was that I came to visit.
The minute I arrived to mom’s house, she started cooking all of my favorite childhood meals–mom, I’m watching my fluctuating weight! She would not hear of any diet or meal plans that I had to follow, she just knew that she had to feed her baby. Parenthetically, it’s customary to rejoice over the visit of a beloved one by killing and cooking a goat. She offered to kill a goat for me……NO…..please, not on my account. Mom, really aims to please, and she did just that.
We enjoyed our time talking to one another, eating, drinking Coca Cola (Haitian version), visiting the local markets in Port-au-Prince, singing, and enjoying the sunset from the roof of her house–every evening.
My cousins came to Port-au-Prince to pick me up, and we headed to Aquin and then to Zanglais. I was ecstatic to be back at the place where I spent the best years of my life. Although I left Haiti when I was 10 years old, the times that I spent in Zanglais with my grandmother and grandfather are etched in my memories and in my heart forever. I mean take a look at the picture below and tell me how you would feel waking up to that every morning.
I met a fascinating lady in Zanglais who owns a thriving restaurant/hotel right on the ocean. The place is called Brise des Iles and the ambiance/foods were impeccable. We enjoyed some delicious foods and drinks there and then we took a walk on the beach. I’m very proud of her because she took advantage of the beauty that Zanglais offers and developed such a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy. She has also created employment opportunities for individuals who would otherwise have no prospects for employment in that small town. By the way, this entity was not there when I visited five years ago. Kudos to you Ms. W!!! I wish her and her team continued success, we are super proud of her.
*Please visit Zanglais, Haiti and check out this very charming and quaint hotel on the beach Brise des Iles. They have the best chauffeurs and tour guides to get you there from the airport and to make sure that you fully enjoy your experience.
We spent the entire day beach-side at Cotes-de-Fer, eating, dancing, and swimming. I enjoyed hearing my small cousins’ laughter as they played in the sand. They pulled me in and buried me knee-deep. After a few grueling hours of creating sand castles and burying each other, we ate the best foods ever! We swam and played some more, and we enjoyed some chanm chanm (roasted corn and peanut in powder form), tropical fruits with home-made liqueur–courtesy of the Cheremond Crew. We then headed home to Aquin where dinner was prepared by my cousin Chef, Gesner Cheremond. Finally, we spent the most wonderful evening regaling ourselves with hilarious childhood memories.
I traveled back to Port-au-Prince and visited a boarding school and orphanage where a dear friend grew up. It was amazing to see the progresses that they’ve made over the years. The children at the school sang for us, as usual, and they asked me to return again soon. I said yes to them, and if you know me, you know that I always keep a promise. I plan to coordinate another medical mission trip to Haiti, and we will be sure to visit them. I did not get any pictures at the orphanage, I did not deem it appropriate to do so at this time.
I returned home where I spent the rest of my journey with mom. We resumed the same daily rituals, and I must say that my favorite part was watching the sunset from the roof of her house. My time in Haiti embodied the essence of family, simplicity, untapped skills/talent, and a hopeful nation. I can’t wait to return to fulfill some of the promises that I have made. Farewell, my beloved Haiti….I will be back soon.