After finishing our trips to the micro-finance businesses, Regine wanted to give the delegation an opportunity to experience some of the beauty and culture of Haiti. We travelled up into the mountains surrounding Port Au Prince to visit a town called Furcy, which is at an elevation of about one mile above sea level. Along the way we stopped at a brick oven pizza restaurant owned by a French man and enjoyed margarita, pepperoni, and escargot pizzas. As we drove up the mountains and out of the city, the change in wealth and status was immediately apparent. Literally the higher you traveled into the mountains, the more wealthy the people became. In the hills outside of Port Au Prince were the homes of middle class Haitians. Many of these people are now part of the diaspora, and as a result their homes or either abandoned or rented to NGO’s. Additionally, there is a lot of new construction. Members of the diaspora are able to affordably build homes outside the city where they can retire.
Even higher in the mountains members of the bourgeoisie lived. All of these homes were still dispersed with poor rural shacks and people living off substance farming. The view from the mountains was beautiful with lots of wooden gingerbread houses very different from the cement homes you see in the city. The air was cool, probably about 75 degrees, with a nice breeze. Tropical plants were mixed with lots of green foliage and pine trees. We parked our SUV and walked to the home of an artist who lived in a wooden house set into the side of the mountain. We enjoyed his artwork, and the view from his home. Afterwards, a local man took us into the downtown area of Furcy. We saw merchants lining the streets and preparing food like goat and vegetables. We wound our way back through the village to a large church, with a beautiful painting and a crucifix carved by the artist who designed Neg Mawon, the symbol of the slave revolution in Haiti.
In the village we met a group of boys who followed us and enjoyed trying to communicate with them in a mix of broken English and Kreyol. We were shocked when we asked their ages, although they looked about ten or eleven many were sixteen or seventeen. The boys appeared healthy and well-fed, but a low caloric intake resulted in them being much smaller than American boys their age. Afterwards, we traveled back to the guesthouse for a delicious Haitian meal of chicken, rice and beans, and bread. Full and happy, we enjoyed some dialogue about our experiences over the course of the past several days before going to bed.