Visiting Haiti: Ayiti, Cheri, I Adore You

About a week ago, I was in Haiti visiting relatives with my family in Cap-Haïtien for the first time in 23 years. I felt so many emotions while I was there: happiness, pride, anxiety …

Does hot count as an emotion?

In all seriousness, we had an amazing time visiting Haiti. We explored Sans-Souci Palace and Citadelle Laferrière in Milot, swam at ChouChou Bay Beach near Port-Margot — we even got to spend some time with our 98 year old great-great-aunt who is still sharper than a tack!

Visiting Haiti was so special and I was feeling particularly inspired while I was there. Partly because Maritza and I were using this as an opportunity for research before starting on our next round of book edits. And also because it’s hard not to feel inspired while you’re there! So much so that I wrote a poem — something I haven’t done in years! (Read it after the photos below.)

Ayiti, Cheri, I Adore You

 

Haiti, my love, I adore you.

With your rolling green mountains and light blue skies. With your wonderful people who are

sturdy and sweet,
proud and pragmatic,
hospitable —
hustlers, down to the very children.

I love your food and the natural beauty of your surroundings and your people.

My people.

And I see the things that need improvement —

the streets are filled with trash,
everyone loiters because there are no jobs, there are others who are very poor,
so many dogs roam your streets.

But even through that, my people move forward — living their daily lives with vigor.

Dressing in the finest clothes for Sunday service.
Shouting at crazy taptap drives who weave in and out of traffic
(and the even crazier pedestrians who dodge them with their stop-sign hands and so-swift feet).
Waving and laughing at a truck full of diaspora.

Or even staring in awe (or shock) or pointing with loud voices or blowing kisses at a strange girl with a bald head.

I see me in you Haiti.

Your faces all meld together in mine. And I’m proud to know your blood is in my veins.

Ayiti, cheri, mwen adore-ou.

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