Last week marked one year since I returned to Haiti to pursue life as an emerging adult. Wow.. that sounds way fancier than it actually is. Anyway, I won’t add more to this intro. So voilà! Hope some of these are useful to you
1. If you see a piece of tree on the road, it’s not because it rained and it accidentally got there. It could be. But this is how you’ll know there’s a car accident nearby. Slow down.
2. TAG supermarket sells some of its stuff 3 times the price of other markets
3. You can find fluoride-free toothpaste, harmless deodorants and other stuff that conscious shoppers generally care about at Caribbean Super Market
4. At Epi d’Or if you order the chicken meal (or fish or beef or whatever). You will get served the meat only. That’s it. You also have to state and pay for the rice and whatever sides you want that you assumed came as a combo because it’s clearly featured in the picture. Silly you.
5. Coconut oil does keep mosquitoes away for an hour or two. Must re-apply.
6. Bees will literally kill themselves trying to get to the light. Even if it’s artificial. How I know? We tried to harvest honey from bees at our home and they went wild. Yikes.
7. Ever heard the phrase « it’s not what you know, it’s who know » ? More than anywhere, that’s Haiti. Contacts will make you skip the line in the heat to go sit in a private office in the AC. And while you’re joking around, your stuff is being handled before anyone else’s. Not proud of that. Might cost you extra.
8. I finally get why people talk about the government so much here. I always said that if you wanted to make a change, the private sector is the way to go about it. I would ignore that the government does impact the system. Well unfortunately government taxes and the lack of benefits it offers for your money makes it harder for the private sector to generate wealth. It’s like they’re punishing progress instead of supporting it by leaving it be.
9. Don’t think you’re coming here to save the world and help people. Sometimes people don’t feel like they need saving or they don’t want the kind of help you’re offering; the simple fact that you are better off than them is reason enough for them to think you have robbed them of something.
10. Just because there’s a riot nearby and tear gas is being thrown around does NOT give you an excuse to skip class
11. Haitian people in general will tell you the truth to your face. (“Oh wow, look at you! you’re so fat now!! “ With a huge smile on)
12. Please somebody open an affordable customer service school for businesses here ! The rudeness when I’m paying has got to stop.
13. Talking about the metaphysical as it relates to someone’s day-to-day life is not atypical. The mystical is not too estoteric or abnormal here; which is cool but creepy depending on if you’re coming here with a Western view. You’ll feel like that anecdote belongs in a movie rather than real life
14. Haiti has oil (along with other valuable elements) that happen to be located where private or so called nonprofit organizations have tried to acquire after the earthquake or already owned. Coincidental? I think not
15. I feel like there’s an age gap in the demographics. People are either under 16-18 or over 40. Where are the people my age…? No really, let me know where they are. I must find them.
16. Having an aid or maid or someone who works for you, in my experience here, can be more of an hassle than help. You would like them to be an extension of your arms and legs but they don’t have the mindset or the vision. I don’t know if it’s because Haitian people have been conditioned for a long time to only watch out for themselves (historically speaking)….but it’s hard having people work under you. Kinda like sleeping with the enemy and the sex is not even good
17. I’ve learned to forget any expectations that I would normally have in the States, like having my file printed exactly how the resolution of the picture was, getting offered free pizza after I’ve waited for delivery for 5 hours, starting a formal meeting on time, first-come-first-serve… things like that
18. While others work to make a living in Haiti. Somewhere out there are people working their brains off to figure out how to steal big by digging underground through the sewers to get inside clothing stores and companies. Don’t wait for the robbers to show up at the door; Check your toilet bowl instead! hehe
19. I did it. I don’t recommend it. Avoid shipping your car to Haiti. You will feel like you are buying your own car…again.
20. Driving here is not nearly as bad as it seemed when I was in the passenger’s seat. It just requires more focus because you have to watch out for crazy drivers + adventurous motorcyclists + wild pedestrians + holes in the road. But it’s very doable.
21. Lastly, this is more of an internal lesson and since it’s my last point I’ll try to make it encompassing of all the things I’ve learned and it sums up to this: Freedom or happiness is not related to where you are location-wise. I used to think that getting away was what I needed to be happy oftentimes. I was obsessed with this idea of freedom, freedom that I could have if only I had certain things or could do certain things or could be certain places. And then it dawned on me that I was already free and happy the moment I allowed myself to be and held myself accountable for my own life. I don’t mean to sound all fantastical, clearly environment does have an effect but it is also our job to better the surrounding we are in and monitor how much we’re letting it affect us
With that said Keep Greening ! 😉