Saturday, October 18, 2008

Holiday weekend

As I mentioned, it's a holiday weekend here for us (Death of Jean-Jacques Dessalines: former leader of the Haitian Revolution 1806). So, I got to sleep in Friday and relax for a bit (up at 7AM). I slept in today too (6AM). I'm just on that schedule now, so I can't help it...and I like getting up early anyway. By the way, if you were, there isn't any night life in Haiti :).

Yesterday, Matt and I decided to go snorkeling. We grabbed our stuff and drove out to a spot about 15-20 minutes away, where we were able to park right next to the water and swim right from the truck. I was expecting the coral to be dead, but to my surprise we saw quite a bit of colorful fish and coral.

While we were still pretty far out, we had a Haitian guy named John swim out to meet us and ask what our names were. We introduced ourselves (in the middle of the ocean) and he tried to spell our names out loud. He spelt Matt's right, and made a mistake on mine, so I helped him along and told him how to spell it. I thought that he was just friendly and practicing his English...but I was wrong, ha ha. As soon as he swam away, Matt remembered hearing a story about a guy who would pull the same stunt and make bracelets with people's names stitched into them and try to sell them.

Sure enough, 15 minutes later (impressive speed I might add) this guy comes swimming out holding the two bracelets above water. First of all, we didn't want to buy anything, and you have to stand your ground when Haitians try to manipulate you, or else it will be a daily occurrence. So Matt says "I've heard about you", and John says "No, no, you heard about George, but I am John" (apparently George=bad and John=good, ha ha). We told him that we were out there snorkeling, not shopping, and that we forgot our money for the coral reef mini-mart (I'm teasing, we didn't really say that, but said something to the affect of "what would you like us to do out here?"). He told us he'd be waiting for us (of course), and we continued our relaxing venture.

About an hour later we headed back and met our new friend John at the truck (I do give him some credit for his craftiness and persistence...but I still wasn't giving in). He told us he hadn't eaten in 2 days and started to give us a hard time. He tied the "OWEN" bracelet on my wrist...and while he was working on Matt I untied it. I didn't want to be forceful or rude with the guy, but I probably should have been a bit more firm. I tried giving it back and he wouldn't take it. He told me he wanted me to have it because it had my name on it. Matt told him that he can't keep pressuring people into this scheme and John agreed...and continued pressuring :).

Long story short, Matt and I get into the truck, and John still wouldn't take my bracelet back. I didn't want to throw it out of the window at him (which Chris said I should have done), so we made it clear that we were going to drive away with the bracelet unless he took it back. But he wouldn't take it, so now it sits on the bulletin board here at CWH as an example for all future visitors.

The merchandise

After getting back from snorkeling we went with Chris & Leslie to their friends' house (where we had Canadian Thanksgiving) and we went swimming in the pool for the rest of the day. So, all total, I spent over 5 hours in the water yesterday, and I had a bit of sunburn to prove it (yes I was wearing sunscreen). Later on Matt and I watched the movie Ghosts of Cite Soleil, which is a documentary about significant gang activity in Haiti in 2004, but we found that the water had taken it's toll on us and we both barely watched the end of it through slitted eyelids.

I wish you a great weekend.


Matriarch said...

Owen, I am so glad that Angela shared your blog with me. I love your stories and you have some great pictures, especially the scenery. It reminds me of when Harry and I were in Haiti. Stay safe.

Owen said...

Hi Kathy,
Thanks for the comment. Where exactly did you and Harry go when you were here? Was it Labadie, Jacmel, or somewhere else? I can't remember. Hope all is well. Talk to you soon.