Back in Haiti
The Danish Queen, Margrethe, found in the ruins.
On November 29th, Michael Plejdrup and cinematographer Peter Palm arrived in Santo Domingo. The next day they filmed me in my room in Hostal Tierra Plana. My new base. Michael sold to me a long time ago the idea of doing a tv-documentary about my first trip back to Haiti. On Monday December 1st, we arrived in Port-au-Prince at 11.45 a.m. Very strong feeling of coming back. A friend at the Diplomatic Lounge helped with formalities. My driver Johnny was waiting with my consular vehicle. We made stops at some of my preferred places in Pétionville. Had pizza at Fior di Latte, bought Dijon mustard and good Italien vinaigre from the Iranian merchant of luxury gourmet foods. Then the road towards Jacmel. We detoured at Leogane, the epicenter of the earthquake, to see the destruction. I told the story about what happened. The magic afternoon light over the mountains. Stopped to enjoy the view over the Jacmel bay.
The destroyed houses in Jacmel. Our beautiful rooms in the Florita, my former neighbour, offered views on Rue du Commerce. The manager Jean received us. Schilaine came and kissed me. She brought her babyboy. Beleque, now the bartender here, mixed his famous rhum sour. And now the big coup: my cook Madam Annette had been allowed to come and cook for us. Lobsters of course. With her famous mayonaise. André entered with his big smile. Ready to dance once more in spite of everything.
From the left: Vodou priestess Manbo Ninie, Beleque and Madam Annette.
Breakfast at Hotel Florita in Jacmel: Michael Plejdrup, Schilaine Cayo and Peter Palm.
We waited until next morning to go and see the ruin. Family scene: André and his wife and little daughter living in a tent in the garden. The debris not cleared. The ground floor intact, the two upper floors pancaked. Rubble everywhere. Later in the morning: the truck with Reynald Lally's people arrived to collect the artwork from the house, pack it and send it away. The sculptures in OK shape. Paintings torn and with many holes. Some could be repaired.
The gardener André with his wife and their small daughter in a tent in the garden.
Three days later we went to Port-au-Prince to stay a couple of night at the Oloffson. We visited the Sean Penn tent camp at the Pétionville Golf Club's steep terrain. 55.000 people. Very impressive organization. Good work. We knew there might come some trouble after the election result announcement Tuesday evening, so Michael and Peter decided to leave one day earlier. I had some urgent business to do with Schilaine. We were at the Oloffson when all hell broke loose at midnight. When election results were announced on national television, loud screams and many shots were heard all over the city. Next day it was impossible to leave the hotel. All parts of town a warzone. Barricades, fires, angry mobs. Once more I felt drawn into the Haitian drama. I sat down on the terrace and wrote a piece for the Danish daily, Information. Thursday we ventured out, it was still a total warzone, but rain had kept mobs inside in the morning. We sneaked out in a nightmarish zigzag to the airport which was closed, but I got out on a small Dominican plane. I wrote the second Information article from Santo Domingo.
I spent Christmas at Hotel Atlantis, Las Terrenas on the Dominican northcoast. This was where I recuperated in the first two months after being evacuated from Jacmel after the earthquake. Before going back to Santo Domingo on December 27th, I suffered a lot of pain in my back. A Dominican doctor gave me two injections. When arriving in Santo Domingo I couldn't get out of the car, a terrible pain hit me. I had to be assisted to get home. The French embassy's doctor, Dr. Amat-Pena came to see me next morning. She sent me to x-ray and scanning cliniques and wrote out a lot of medication. Today Frank Esmann arrived in Santo Domingo. We will spend New Year's Eve together at the roof terrace of this small hotel. And then fly out to Port-au-Prince on Sunday, January 2nd. We will produce a three part radio documentary series in Haiti. Two old storytellers coming back, telling about what we see. After seeing me again, Dr. Amat gave me permission to travel.