Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our surprise for Valentine's Day

After we rested up and got ready to go out for our surprise, we found this tap-tap pulling into our driveway! Tap-taps are privately run transportation that the Haitians use to get around town. They are much like the jipneys in the Philippines. They are called tap-taps because you tap them to get on and off. It is apparently organized chaos, with stops and routes that are unidentifiable to me but are well known by the locals.

We were taken out by Ciril, a French Haitian that has lived in Port-au-Prince all his life and takes people on tours in and around the city (he's sitting directly behind me in the blue shirt). Our first stop was the Hotel Montana. You would never know that this place existed if you were not here. It sits overlooking the city and is guarded by UN military forces. It seems to be a bit of a waste of UN money to guard the people that come to Hotel Montana but I think it is done in the hopes that there are less kidnappings.

I felt very uncomfortable being at this hotel and riding around in the tap-tap. Because I came to Haiti to work and not party it is hard for me to relax and have what the rest of the group would consider to be a "good time." I feel like such a Debbie Downer as I am not a drinker and yelling and screaming as we ride along the city streets seems to be a bit obnoxious. Many of our team were yelling and dancing around as we drove through the city. I just hate the idea of 17 privileged white folks partying it up when this is the transportation that Haitians use on a daily basis. Am I being overly sensitive? Additionally, being at such a resort style hotel seemed incongruous to the work that we are doing here. Most of the team was getting drunk and I was getting frustrated. I try not to be a stick in the mud, but I can have a good time at home.

A great thing about the hotel was the amazing view...

After the stop at the Hotel Montana we took the tap-tap to an Italian restaurant that Gail said was the best in town. I had a spicy tomato sauce over fettuccine noodles. Afterwards the plan was to go to a club called Jet Set. 4 people requested to be taken back to the guesthouse. Can you guess which group I ended up in? I just pictured more of the same type of scene that was already frustrating (think: shooters at Senor Frogs in Cabo).

Tomorrow we're heading to Indigo Beach. First we're stopping at COBBA, an orphanage near the beach that has basically nothing. Jide, our translator from today and yesterday, helps to run COBBA and explained to me what they need there so I will be getting up and organizing the donations to take with us. Hopefully I will get to hang out with some kids and give COPPA much needed supplies.


Tracey said...

I wouldn't say you were being overly sensitive.. you just look at things differently than most people. That's a good thing it is what makes you.. you. And why we all love you! (It's sad to say but if the truth be told I would have gone for the shots..)

Robert Ong said...

The truth hurts. Thank you for speaking it. Some travelers often forget about showing respect and sensitivity to the local's feelings. I guess blowing off the stress of the work has some part to play in their behavior as well. Nice pics.

BenBen said...

You shouldn't have taken that picture of the know the wheels are spinning now for how I'm going to redo the Datsun.