At the airport, I am treated like a minor celebrity when it becomes clear that I speak Creole and am recognized by several porters. Seeing Ben after a long two weeks (a high in case you were wondering), muggy heat, and driving home through insane bumper-to-bumper traffic that gave me plenty of time to see how little seems to have changed in Port-Au-Prince in two weeks... We hear gunshots nearby while I'm unpacking. The electricity comes on and, mercifully, we don't run out of water. Luna's kittens are adorable and there are cockroaches all over the kitchen. It's great to be in my own bed again, until Ben wakes me up to ask if I just felt two tremors.
We are literally stuck in traffic for hours trying to get out of Port-Au-Prince and to Jacmel where Ben and Sharon will be interviewing and photographing artisans that contract to Comite Artisinal Haitien (CAH), which in turn sells its fair trade products to Ten Thousand Villages (an MCC venture). We get to Jacmel much later than intended, have trouble finding a hotel with two rooms available (reservations just weren't possible with Jacmel's phone network down), but we have about an hour to hang at the beach before dark. Ben dislocates his kneecap riding his bicycle on the beach, relocates it himself and throws-up fifteen minutes later from shock. We haggle with a guy for some mediocre fish. It's cool and windy on the beach after dark. A wedding reception is taking place at our hotel when we return.
There is no water in our hotel room. Since Ben can't walk, I have to take all of the artisans' pictures (and I did a fine job, too). It takes us all day to find, interview and photograph the ten artisans on our list, but Jacmel is beautiful, everyone is friendly and eager to show us their work and we get to check out cool Jacmelien handicrafts. If you own Haitian placemats, brightly painted wooden figurines or anything in paper mache, chances are good that they were produced in Jacmel.
I have to admit that after interviewing the 10th artisan, a lot of the handicrafts were starting to look the same. Nevertheless, I am still and will always be a huge fan of the paper mache that comes out of Jacmel. If you haven't already, you should look at these pictures from carnival 2009 in Jacmel.
Jacmel was hit hard by the earthquake. Overall the situation seems much better than in Port-Au-Prince, but a number of the folks that we visited lost homes, workshops, significant stock and tools in the quake:
There were about twenty minutes left of daylight - just enough for a dip in the ocean - by the time we find another hotel that has two rooms available.
We enjoy our complimentary breakfast and a view over the ocean before we drive home from Jacmel. Our yard is full of construction workers (they're finally repairing the wall that was damaged in the earthquake) and I'm slapping at mosquitoes while I try to catch up on emails that have been accumulating for two weeks. Ben sees a doctor that drains blood from his knee and tells him to keep off of it for the next two weeks. Dinner with a dear friend. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Fèt Drapo - Flag Day - and a national holiday.