HNOW in Haiti: Daddy's House
Day 3 in Haiti, I'm over the traffic jam from the night before, and I'm ready to see where my dad grew up. My dad grew up in the of middle Port-au-Prince, 5 minutes away from the iconic Neg Maron scultpture, Musee du Pantheon Haitien and the Palais National. He lived directly across the street from an old prison. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I've never heard my dad tell any stories about the prison. Whenever he talked about Haiti, he always said the same thing: "One dollar could get you an ice cream for you and your girlfriend and you could go to the cinema!" So I guess there wasnt much to know about the neighborhood.
When we got to his street he had a hard time locating where his old home was! He had to orient himself according to the prison doors across the street. Once he located the proper entrance, he had to find his house by mentioning his mother. More identifying.
Eske'w konnen kote yon Mes te rete?
Do you know where a Mes used to live?
They all told him she moved to the states which we knew, so my dad to think deeper and think of neighbors names which led to my dad's house. The house was empty because all of my father's family have already moved to the US, but a lot of family friends were still there. I had to hear about how skinny I was for an American child and I kept getting mistaken for my older sister. It had been so long since they've heard news of my dad they forgot my dad "made another one".
I don't think my dad wanted to leave. When we did, he kept asking questions based off of his memories. "What street is this called?, What happened to the old shopping area? Where is the cinema?" I could tell he was retracing the steps of his childhood as he would look around, blink quickly and put his hand to his chin. A lot of times he would suck his teeth in disappointment. A lot of the places he remembered were no more, or were partially destroyed in the earthquake. The Haiti he'd known was still there, it just wasn't his.
Since Haiti, my dad keeps talking about what he'd do if he were president and how he would help his country. I think going home was a piercing reminder of how much he'd left behind. Going home was a peircing realization of how much I didnt know. Haiti was tugging on our heart strings for sure.