Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Here Now in NOLA

It's been an insanely busy and sleep-deprived fifteen days since I blogged last. Suffice it to say, an important project was completed, a solidarity housing rights campaign (which you'll hear about even sooner) is being launched and a panel presentation has been given.

Meanwhile, I have resurfaced from the madness, and am in New Orleans. Here, I will eat jambalaya instead of diri kole and listen to jazz and zydeco instead of konpa. Here, I am overwhelmed by:

empty sidewalks
trying not to stand too close to "strangers"
drinking water directly out of the faucet
water pressure
women wearing tights as pants (my sister warned me, still, I was unprepared)
air conditioning

I desperately needed a break, and am so glad to be here. But being in the U.S. always feels complicated, and more so every time I'm back. (There's a long history of this, by the way -- although an American, I didn't actually live in the U.S. until I was 18 years old). Thankfully, New Orleans is a good middle-here. It feels like a very non-U.S. city, and has many historical and cultural ties to Haiti.

Best of all, I am here with these women, and they are like sisters and they are wonderful, beautiful, up-lifting, creative, energetic and loving (pics taken at the Other Worlds staff retreat in November last year):

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sitting on a Gold Mine

Lakwev, Haiti is riddled with hand-dug tunnels, some as deep as seventy feet. Residents in this border town are carving out a living through mining. Daily they dig, pan and, if lucky, find specks of gold to sell to the gold buyers that visit once a week.

Five hundred years ago, Columbus found gold on the island he named Hispaniola, now divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Over the next twenty-five years Spain mined this gold, killing off most of the enslaved indigenous population through hard labor and disease.

Today, new mining technology and rising gold prices are driving large-scale miners back to the island. This year, Barrick Gold's Pueblo Viejo mine is moving into full production in the Dominican Republic. Barrick is hoping to pull 23.7 million ounces of gold from this mine, which at current gold prices will be worth $37.2 billion dollars. Across the border in Haiti, American and Canadian companies are buying up mining exploration permits.

The question remains whether or not large-scale mining will be to the island's benefit. Previous mining attempts in the Dominican Republic have polluted rivers and lakes with acid runoff and in Haiti, exploratory mining is being conducted on farmland and watersheds. Dominican activists believe their government is being under-compensated by Barrick.

(This story was funded by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting as a collaborative project with two writers. See their written stories here).

Monday, June 4, 2012

What's Up

A random assortment of some of what's been up, anyway:
  • On Friday, this happened: social movements throughout the country and across the Americas protested the 8th anniversary of the UN's military presence in Haiti. I meant to write about it, but:
  • We spent the weekend alternately dealing with Ben's food poisoning and a serious cockroach invasion. Me: spraying noxious, cancer-inducing roach repellant at the kitchen; Cockroaches: dive bombing out of cracks between our kitchen cupboards, and worst of all, out of the cupboards themselves; Me: dry heaving over the toilet; Ben (with a fever and chills): "Honey, please let me help you!" etc...  
  • Meanwhile, it's suddenly lay-naked-in-front-of-fan-and-try-not-to-move hot around here. In the space of a week, the weather has gone from hot (and humid, owing to daily downpours) to ho-oooooot (and dry, with no rain to cool things off in the afternoons).
  • Yesterday evening, Ben boarded a (delayed) AA flight to visit his family, attend a workshop and a photography festival, go backpacking with my family, and take a bit of a Haiti breather.  He'll also be getting our bicycles, currently collecting cobwebs in his parents' garage, ready for our July island-hopping bicycle tour of St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe. 
 Smiling for the camera, but sad to say good-bye
  • Then this morning, this happened: Luna brought me a rodent, which she cornered squeaking and squealing in various parts of the house. It's in my closet now, and I'm still trying to determine whether or not my pajamas can reasonably pass for clothes.
 Look how proud she is!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...