The past couple of weeks have been rather unbearable for me due to the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that shattered parts of my homeland Haïti. This blog post is a reflection on what Haiti means to me.
My title alone got tears pouring down my cheeks. Haiti Cherie means: My Darling Haïti and is a traditional patriotic song of Haïti.
I was Born in Port-au-Prince on and raised by my aunt & Grandma when my parents emigrated to the US when I was at the age 5 in search of better life for myself and my little sister Sophia. I spent my childhood and part of my teenage years there. I Left Haïti when I was 16 years of age and I’ve been in the US now for 17 years.
Port-au-Prince, like any large capital city is a busy place. A nonstop beehive of activity. Cars and people heading this way and that. Lots of markets, stores and merchants selling just about anything you could ask for. Smells of fresh food cooking fill the streets. I walked, ran and rode my bike through many of those streets as a girl with my friends. When we would get hungry we would shout for the “marchand du riz” the rice seller for a cup of hot rice or we would shout Pistache griye! Pistache griye! for my favorite, roast peanuts. My Family and I lived in Port-au-Prince for most of the year but since my grandma is originally from the country side town of L’asile, which is southwest of Port-au-Prince, we would spend the three months of summer in the countryside. Those summer days are some of my most fondest and vivid images when I think of Haiti. The countryside folks are super polite, the most respectful and friendly. So friendly that a total stranger would ask you to stay for dinner and sleep over for the night or as long as you needed.
It wasn’t always a smooth ride getting to L’asile in those colorful yet jam packed buses and bumpy roads but the scenery is gorgeous and once we were there it was truly like paradise. As soon as I’m off the bus I’d drop my luggage and run to see if there are coconuts that have fallen and are still fresh to drink and eat. We took our showers and baths in a spring fed waterfall and if we forgot to pack soap my grandmother would pick the leaves of a tree that would foam just like soap and smelled delicious. lots of land to roam around, fruit trees of every sort and a short walk would take us to an excellent fishing spot. There was no such thing as poor in L’asile because you had everything you needed. Port-au-Prince was much harder to make ends meet.
I do have family members currently in Haïti . We got word that my Aunt is alive as well as my cousin and we are waiting to hear more news about our extended family members. Unfortunately my uncle is not doing so well due to a severe head injury.
I’m one of those people that don’t cry often and said that I’ll save my tears for something worth crying over. Well this is it for me I’ve been leaking for the passed two weeks especially when I’m home alone. I finally got the courage to write this blog.
I don’t want to sadden everyone’s heart like mine so I’m stopping here and leaving you with a song titled Haïti sung by Josephine Baker in the 1934 film Zou Zou. I think this song truly describes my cry for Haïti.
The last two films are from the 40s and 50s of Haïti.