Monday, April 23, 2012

HAITI... WHAT CAN YOU SAY

Looking back on our sailing adventure to Haiti and not knowing how to describe this amazing and different place, I find it hard for me to form the correct words to express our love and adoration for these people.

I thought that all hope of me writing a blog about Haiti was lost, because I found myself with no photos to show this unique place. It was too dangerous for us to pull out our cameras and film or photograph our time there. But, I was surprised when I came across a few pictures on one of the cameras memory cards. There were only a few shots that Allan had taken on our first days there and before we were told very firmly that it was not a good idea. I hope that the photos will show you this beautiful small island off the southern coast of Haiti called Isle a Vache.


Isle a Vache in the red circle. This is the only safe place to bring a boat in Haiti. We were accosted by pirates a few days before when we touched the mainland... that's another story. But the bottom line is that any boat, no matter how small, is a floating palace to the local people. They see running water, electricity pulled from the sun and wind, people with sun glasses and diving gear... this is unreal to them and the stuff of legend.


Odessa in Captain Morgan Harbor. Completely protected from weather and surrounded by a small village. This lagoon was the base for the Pirate Morgan and is a jewel compared to the squaller of Les Ceyes a few miles across the water on the mainland.


Fisherman brave the rough seas to provide for their families and villagers. Haitians are the best sailors we've seen... probably the best in the world and their methods haven't change in hundreds of years.


These boats are handmade with skills past down from father to son. We would wake just before sunrise to the sound of men singing to the chopping beat of axes.


Local children sit in hand made fishing boats that are beached on the shore. 
There are no docks or marinas here.


The locals not only craft their own boats, they have to make the planks of wood with no electricity and only rough metal tools. Nothing is shipped to the island, there is no money... just trade. Wood and power tools bought off the shelf is just a dream told to the villagers by those lucky enough to come to the US and go shopping at Home Depot. It all sounds like fantasy to the villagers.


If you look close you can see the the sail powered
 fishing boats, no engine because it is a rare item. 


A mother and father wait as Allan stitches a gash on their young son from an accident. Basic first aid doesn't exist here. We found ourselves becoming the local doctors for small wounds, it was overwhelming and we had to divert many to Sister Flora and her clinic two hours hard hike to the other end of the island.


Ashtun, a fantastic teen fishes under our boat for lunch. The young people are the future of Haiti, it'll take time for them to become powerful enough in their society to make a difference. The most devastating hurdle to the young is the culture of corruption created by the aid cycle and perpetuated by their peers... we hope that they make it.



Ashtun, Colbe and Castro work hard to provide for themselves. School serves a purpose beyond education... it keeps kids busy and out of trouble. We were surprised at the lack of trouble here with so many kids having nothing to do all day. They're ingenious, they have aspirations, and just frustrated with the situation that they're born into.



The relaxed life style here is quickly embraced by Simon. Spot the difference between our US bred kids and the local children. Our youth are a reflection of our society and in general we see more singing, smiling, proactivity and general lust for life from Haitian children then any of their counterparts in the US and 1st world countries.

The last few things I would say about our time in Haiti is that the people are warm and friendly. The locals have a resilience that I have never experienced before. They can make something from nothing and are very tough,.. but on the inside is a heart of kindness when you take the time to open it.

We have met many people who have opinions about Haiti, easy solutions and a complete misunderstanding of life there and the challenges it faces. It's a country that is continually disappointed by their goverment and has becoming a country of welfare and hand outs by other nations that naively want to help. You must remember one thing... you have to live there to understand and never ever let your guard down, keep your street smarts on high alert at all times... it is a very different world.



BACK ON THE GRID... AHHH



Life back in the USA isn't as easy as I thought.
With mounting paper work and government services to deal with... I am truly frustrated.

I went to renew my driver license and thought I had everything that I needed to do it.
But, I was turned down!!! Here's a picture of the paper work that I needed to renew my license, minus one missing item.

7 forms of documents just to renew an existing drivers license.



Now to touch on taxes.
This is a project that has taken us many weeks to just get the papers in order. 

This is a picture of just some of the paper work that I have to have for U.S. taxes. Remember that we live off the grid and don't really have any bills. I will also have to rent out a storage container and hold on to this maze of paper for seven years.

This years tax paper work for one very very small U.S. Business.


Life in the U.S.A. is not fun at the moment.

The "rub" is that living for 2 years off the grid, where most things are done with cash or trade, there is no paperwork, so... the tax rules don't make a lot of sense. I guess that taxes are good when you're "in the system" and using all of the services provided by your tax dollars, but when you're not... it all seems a bit ridiculous really. A flat tax would be nice and simple, but then you'd have thousands of poor attorneys and accountants opening sweet shops or something.

It'll all be over soon and we can get back to living... until next year.