Archive for November, 2008

Shadows of Graham Greene in Downtown Port-au-Prince: Including Rum Sours at the Hotel Oloffson

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

One place I very much wanted to visit in Haiti was the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince. Haiti no longer sees many tourists, but back in the day it rivaled Cuba as a Caribbean playground. The Hotel Oloffson, dubbed the “Greenwich Village of the Tropics”, saw all kinds of famous visitors, many of an artistic bent. In particular, Graham Greene was a regular at the hotel. The Comedians, Greene’s novel about Duvalier’s Haiti, immortalized the Oloffson as the fictional Hotel Trianon. I dropped by the Hotel Oloffson while taking a look around downtown Port-au-Prince. Port-au-Prince is not a nice city, so the Oloffson was a pleasant retreat in which to while away part of the afternoon.

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A Week in Cap-Haitien: Including a visit to the Citadelle, and various other odds and ends

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

While in Haiti I spent around a week in Cap-Haitien. Cap-Haitien was the nicest part of my visit to Haiti, being more pleasant, relaxed and interesting than Port-au-Prince. I stayed in the atmospheric old Hotel Roi-Christophe, parts of which apparently date back to the 18th Century. There was a serious oil shortage during my visit, the result of the road to Port-au-Prince having been cut by the storms and floods that had all but destroyed the city of Gonaive. The combination of the oil shortage and the nearby humanitarian disaster lent the city an air of crisis. There was no electricity, and nightfall saw UN patrols rumble through pitch-black streets. The hotel bar was a rare oasis of light, drawing in aid workers who sat around drinking beers and planning sorties to Gonaive.  Even that oasis of light tottered on the brink of being extinguished.  With no fuel available in Cap-Haitien, the hotel manager was forced to drive to the Dominican Republic border just to buy fuel to keep things going for another couple of days.

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Chilean UN soldiers attend mass

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