Americans leave Haiti

I’ve been keeping an eye on Haiti news lately because it’s been on the front pages every day recently. Americans are being urged to leave Haiti as tension and violence between pro- and anti-Aristide groups increase. I spent 10 days there as a teenager and somehow that small country has planted roots in my heart. Even when I went there (with a church youth group) Haiti was a volatile country — not a place highly recommended for travelling.

What I remember from my short visit to Haiti: sleeping under mosquito netting in a large room with other girls listening late at night to the drums beating and the chanting of voodoo ceremonies. Coming home and thinking I had scabies (just a heat rash). A tour of a small voodoo hut – a dead chicken and a small goat hanging from the ceiling. A beautiful dark skinned girl who made a lunch with tiny fish for me. Fear of the rumors that Haitians get violent and angry when photographed. The smell of Port Au Prince.

At fourteen, I was deeply religious and was frightened by this thing called voodoo. Older, I was enthralled by it. Haiti planted roots because it was a real source of my imaginative curiosities — my religious grapplings and experimentation. Because at one time the supernatural was immensely seductive — the magic of voodoo and witchcraft, just like prayers, except prayers were mundane because I grew up with prayers – dead chickens and goat’s blood — that was new, exotic, and sensual in a way that inaudible words could never be.

I could never fully believe, but at one time I felt a great deal of enthusiasm for such colorful subject matter.

But going back to Haiti…it’s a country that seems plagued by militant violence — even now in a democratic environment, it’s been unable to shake itself free of scandal and corruption. It’s one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. It’s in continual political turmoil. It fuels our imaginations plenty, but not enough our hearts.

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