Hispaniola; 9 things I won't miss

My time away has come to an end, I have exactly 4 days left before heading back to Toronto. 

  Gilou Beach, Haïti

Gilou Beach, Haïti

This trip has been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. I've reconnected with my native land, with family members I hadn't seen in over 19 years, I even had a friend join me for a month.

  Backseat of a pickup truck en route to Cavaillon. Protect that precious skin  

Backseat of a pickup truck en route to Cavaillon. Protect that precious skin  

Mason is a blogger and will be documenting his time here, in the meantime feel free to browse his other adventures at masonvstheworld  .

I've found myself in some of the most uncomfortable situations, I've laughed like I haven't in years, learned so many lessons, took countless amounts of pictures that doesn't even compare to the memories made.

  #nofilter somewhere between Port-Au-Prince and Aux-Cayes, Haïti. 

#nofilter somewhere between Port-Au-Prince and Aux-Cayes, Haïti. 

Before getting into a super mushy reflective piece #soshiva on how much this trip has changed me- insert cheesy travel wanderlust quote - I would like to share 9 things I most definitely will NOT be missing from my time here in Hispaniola. The trash, the cold showers and the lack of toilet seats EVERYWHERE demands a mention but I've decided to focus on these instead. [ Lack of toilet seat covers has certainly improved my squats! #blessingsindisguise ].

 

Ahem.

9 things I will NOT miss from Haiti /Dominican Republic:

 

1. Mosquitos.

  I love you mosquito slayer 

I love you mosquito slayer 

Everyone warned me about this, but you just cannot be prepared for these little pests. They. Are. Everywhere. And they are vicious . OFF insect repellant did its best, staying in front of a fan and PlaGatox was my best refuge.

 

 

 2. Rice.

Oh my Lord. So much rice. Rice everyday. Mason and I even came up with a game whenever we saw a woman with a slightly round stomach, rice or baby? Arroz ou bebe? Seriously, with so many options of scrumptious eats on the island, people still choose to eat rice above everything else.

  Happy to be eating anything BUT rice. 

Happy to be eating anything BUT rice. 

3. Rice with avocado AND banana.

  " Mason, we're having rice for dinner " 

" Mason, we're having rice for dinner " 

Sorry, the rice thing continues because it really is that serious. In Dominican Republic rice is eaten with avocado, that doesn't sound toooo bad. But wait, bananas are also added. Yup you read correctly. Rice + avocado + bananas. My aunt and cousin tried their best to get me to try this. As adventurous as I like to think I am,( my motto in life is 'I'll try anything twice because the first time might've been a bad experience'), I just couldn't go through with it. Maybe next time! Maybe never!

4. Cat-calling.

  Parle à ma main- Fort Jacques, Haïti

Parle à ma main- Fort Jacques, Haïti

As horrible as it is to say this, I'm used to cat-calling, if you're a woman reading this you're probably nodding in agreement and disgust. Having lived in Miami, Atlanta and Toronto, men feel entitled to let women know in a disrespectful manner that we have caught their attention. That's a post for a rainy day.

Let's get back to cat-calling on the island. Dominican Republic is slightly more obnoxious for this. Men with their wives/girlfriends, men on the phone driving, group of men blatantly ignoring me holding my mother’s hand. I even had a little boy, about age 7 or 8, I kid you not, let me know how he couldn't breathe properly since landing his eyes on my beauty. As a “foreigner” I was extremely annoyed and resorted to back to my high school days at McEachern High School, ignoring their lives. And if any of them got a little too close, I simple said “ no entiendo, no habla español ” (i don't understand, I don't speak Spanish)and off they went. Which brings me to the next thing I will NOT miss..

 

 5.The language barrier.

  Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo DR

Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo DR

Oh but what? Language barrier? Aren't you? Yes, yes, let me explain. French-Creole is my first spoken language, it is my native tongue. I speak it at home with my family and with my Haitian friends too. However being in Haiti and speaking creole was challenging at times. I was told many times, almost daily, that I speak it like a foreigner, with an accent. I got in a couple of arguments over this. My ego was bruised several times, being told that I acted and sounded like a foreigner …in my home country. Then I reminded myself that I have been away for 18 years. And I reminded them that as long as I can understand them and they can understand me, communication would run smoothly. Ah, l’espagñol.  Here's the thing. I grew up with a lot of Mexican friends, s/o to Georgia! Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Colombian friends. My understanding level of the language is quite up there, and if you get enough tequila in me, tequila not vodka, I'll even speak the language like a native! Ahem, the thing is Dominicans speak Spanish a little more uhhh lax. Yes, lax. They don't pronounce everything . In example, in greeting someone most Spanish speakers would say “ cómo está? Como estas usted ¿”- Dominicans say “ como tú ta? Or qué lo qué?” ..that was a very dry example but I hope you get my point. Speaking Spanish without pronouncing the syllable, seriously there is no “s” in their dialect, at 160 mph gets Shiva very confused and frustrated. My family has been doing a wonderful job of speaking slower and explaining their dialect to me. Give me 3 more months here and I’d easily pick it up!

 

6.Llegó la luz ¡

That there means the light is back! Where did it go, you're probably wondering. I'm not sure why I completely blocked off this part of my childhood. The power goes out, frequently, by that I mean daily. So when”the light is back” you better make sure your phones/computers/back up chargers/lamps are fully charged! Please note: some people have generators for when this happens, which costs a lot. Most people are used to the power going out and simply live their lives around it. As annoyed as I was by this, I made it work. Tip, having lots of movies and shows on your computer helps, a lot.

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I got to catch up on Supernatural ! My faux-cousin Nathanael had the seasons saved. Go Sam & Dean

 

 

7.No selfie-zones..outside of home.

  The Struggle

The Struggle

Cue crying angel babies playing violins and mini harps. Citizens of the capital, both Port-au-Prince AND Santo Domingo own two cellular devices. One they go out with, this phone is usually cheap, only does calls and maybe has SMS features. Maybe. The other is usually an iPhone or Android with all the specs and apps, used only at home. Why do they do this? For safety reasons. The first phone can be stolen and it wouldn't be a big loss, so they keep the second at home. Do you see where I'm going with this?NO SELFIE ZONE! As much as I wanted to document my walks to the markets, haggling with the vendors, and just blending in with the locals, I was warned many times of thieves who would snatch my cell phone faster than I could say " that thief

just stole my cell phone" in their language, of course. Le sigh.

 

8. Kisses for everyone.

Something else I must've blocked off from my childhood. In my culture, to greet someone is to kiss them on the cheek. Being raised in the United States/Western World, I got away with not kissing people I didn't know.

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"If I have to kiss one more stranger on the cheek..."

 

Yeah that all changed as soon as I stepped off that plane. Everyone gets kisses. Random stranger talking to my mother? You get a kiss. Slightly older gentlemen  visiting my aunt? You get a kiss. Kisses when I get somewhere, kisses when I'm leaving said place. You get a kiss. You get a kiss. Everyone gets a kiss. This really isn't the worst thing, it's part of our culture and I find it endearing when the younger people have to greet me haha.

 

9. Phone and internet.

  Nèg Marron, can you do something about this phone & internet system?

Nèg Marron, can you do something about this phone & internet system?

Wind Mobile, I will never speak ill of you again. The phone and Internet system is quite possibly the worst system I have ever encountered. These companies are robbing people blind, yet the masses see nothing wrong with this. There is no such thing as a landline. To add minutes to your cellular in Haiti, pap padap sellers are everywhere. Add minutes which then allows you to make a plan, daily, weekly or monthly. The pap padap sellers also top up USB internet sticks with daily, weekly and monthly plans as well. I had no interest in making calls, after being robbed many times by Digicel and their unclear instructions, I opted to go for the monthly plans of 7GB that miraculously ran out after 21 days. The worst absolute worse system. I will definitely NOT miss this struggle.

 

There you have it folks, the top 9 things I'm glad to be saying goodbye to as I make my way back to Toronto. Any of you can relate? Tell me below .

 Next post will be all about the things I will miss and a little recap of my brief Tinder stint due to rainy days, miscommunication and me being a brat.

 

Wherever you are, I hope you're smiling

Until next time

 

Shiva Kay

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