Last night, I was eating spaghetti out of Styrofoam container. Amazing spaghetti with shredded pork and Ketchup. Ketchup! The restaurant was in a tent (on a patio owned by a GYN practice) in the thick of Port Au Prince, surrounded by locals amused by my attempts at speaking Kreyol. We were drinking Prestige beer (and more Barbancourt than any man should bear) as a rain storm washed uncollected trash down the street.
There are pigs in the streets, everyday, who eat what they can out of the garbage - this garbage is also collecting on the remaining earthquake rubble. People own these pigs. They let them out to feed on trash. Imagine cars burping diesel, women carrying sacks of coal on their heads and leashed pigs on mounds of plastic bottles, Styrofoam containers and, apparently, something edible. Goats are out on the streets doing the same thing, but sometimes they prefer hanging out in graveyards.
Today, I was in Petionville, drinking red wine, eating duck and hazelnut pate at an upscale art gallery full of Vodou art, modern work and much else. I heard more French than Kreyol. Everyone was pleasant and I found a painting of a patridge by an artist, Nicholas Dreux, who painted for a couple of decades before slipping into a post revolution (Aristide) mental breakdown due to the violence he witnessed - he's working again. Art in Haiti - colors, movement, really catching the pace of the city, both slow and ultrafast, dusty, spirit based. All of this shows up in something as simple as a painted rattle.
Pigs in trash. Art and pate. Juxtapositions are a way of life here. Not fair but always eye opening.
The sun is setting The bar is open and we're eating peanuts, Spanish olives and fried pork with plantains and spicy cabbage. I'm way up in the hills of Port au Prince at the hotel Montana (Pétionville) where 300 people died during the 2010 earthquake. Many were wealthy foreigners. Many were workers. Death levels the playing ground but it treats the transition on unleveled ground here.
Honor and respect to those who have passed and to those who continue to struggle in circumstances beyond words.
Now we're driving down the hill to finish our night where we began our stay, to eat lasagna, of all things, and pray to the gods that we don't have bad hangovers during our flight home. (all of this while we sing the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses", bouncing along roads in chaotic traffic, goats, pigs and a frantic race to survive.)