This was my fifth trip to Haiti. Every trip to Haiti is different and special and touches your soul. Upon arriving I was again struck by the poverty and the desperation of most people’s lives. The many men standing outside the airport pedestrian exit vying to earn a dollar by carrying your bag drives home their situation.
The three hour Sunday morning worship in a crowded and very poor “God’s Faith Church” was one of many examples during the visit of the deep faith of most Haitian people. This church was particularly interesting because of its charismatic worship style. The pastor often preached with his eyes closed and members would shout out phrases such as “praise the Lord.” Many had their hands raised high with eyes closed as the Spirit seemed to seize them. The church has a tin roof and unfinished walls but most of the bench seats were full.
I enjoyed lunch at the iconic Hotel Oloffson (as seen in “The Comedians” with Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Alec Guinness).The rum punches were especially strong. Our conversation with Richard Morse, the proprietor, was enlightening if not fully truthful. Once we moved beyond Princeton reunions he told us how he supported the election of his cousin Martelly, “Sweet Mickey” the pop music star, for President and at first advised the newly elected chief executive but then broke with him over the high degree of corruption. Richard also talked about his well-known band, RAM (his initials), and their famous Thursday night stands at the hotel. He first began a band in NJ with three Princeton buddies after graduating.
Our visit to the national museum reinforced the pride Haitians feel about their independence, the only successful slave revolt in world history. But it also showed the tortuous and painful history since independence more than 200 years ago.