Archive for the ‘Haiti’ Category
Vodou ceremony in East Flatbush apartment. People were wearing green in honor of Damballa that can also be represented by St. Patrick or Moses. The space was too small for live drummers. Many young kids that were born in the USA. The only time I could use available lights was when candles were lit
photos from the last day
came thru immigration last night at JFK.
the officer asked me where i went i said santo domingo and haiti
he asked me what i was doing in haiti with some sort of absent bored
expression in his face.
i told him i went to photograph the situation there
he asked what is there to photograph.
“they have some problems down there” I replied -
“problems? what problems do they have in haiti?” he asked me.
the policeman i knew in Jacmel – he would come over to the stoop we
would all drink Clairin and Rum. Half a bottle for a US dollar.
He would tell me about Simon Bolivar and gen Pétion, the history of the
independence Latin America.
4500 photos – just imported 7 hours of video footage.
I need to edit organize.
I wish I had some solar panel to charge my Macbook.
if only Apple wasn’t so greedy and would license the power adapter to
3rd parties – I wonder how I could plug my Macbook to a solar panel.
I felt respected in Haiti. No one tried to grab my money, no one tried
to put their hands in my pocket, no one tried to grab my camera.
they would ask me money to take their photo because they have this idea
that i would make a million dollars with that.
I told this woman that was selling food in the square that a million
dollar was her imagination. so she told me it was not a million dollar
US but a million of haitian dollars.
I asked if she really believed that.
everyone was OK – my french got more fluent and made it easier.
the kids that the hurricane rendered homeless started calling me monsié
stefan instead of “hey blanc!”.
you walk the streets and the kids tell me “hey blanc!” and they are
happy when i look at them.
if i take a photo and i show it on the camera display they get really
happy. many probably dont see often photos of themselves.
many people like soccer – I am sure if i came with some AC Milan bootleg
jerseys many would be happy
At the hotel in santo domingo the guy at the reception was wearing a
Inter of Milan jersey.
I told him I like Milan AC.
the next day i found out he was from Jacmel himself and had been in the
Dom rep 10 years
I left jacmel at 4 am with the Tap Tap bus 150 Gourdes for me and 150
for my bag because it had to be on a seat. 7 dollars US total for 2.5
hours trip thru the steep mountain roads
I arrived in Port au Prince -
lot of slums
i got into a cab to the Petion-Ville section on the hill
I was early and I asked some kids to take to the market to buy a straw
hat and bag.
we ran because it was 15 min away – got a street coffee -
the marked looked like somewhere out of Africa.
but they had a lot of great craft for cheap -
a lot more stuff than in Jacmel.
wished I could stay longer
the border between Haiti and Santo Domingo is surreal.
a swampy lake flooded the road which is also filled with rocks.
they are digging and cutting the mountains to get rocks -
I saw that in Italy in Carrara where they cut the mountain to get marble.
going thru the dominican immigration and customs is a lot slower than
going thru the Haitian.
you have to get off go to a small building and go thru passport control
you then go back to the bus and get all your bags go back to the same
building for customs.
there are lines of people that overlap and cross and an old man tries to
all the bags are opened and throughly searched.
when i reach the table the dominican female officer smiles at me and
just tell me to go -
i was the only white person on the bus and i was the only one not searched -
I was unshaven and had a dirty t short it did not matter.
the elegant upper class haitian-american mom and daughter befor e me had
all their bags searched
in santo domingo it felt strange to see store / restaurant chains -
electricity and so on -
i saw tourists
but when i was there 2 weeks earlier i was in a hotel by the bus station -
it was not much different than haiti.
in santo domingo the tourist part is really nice and clean – could be
miami or a fancy habana
after all it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the americas.
but outside the that area the roads are crappy – there are latrines -
some beaches are filled with bottles.
people try to take money from you – they have less boundaries than in haiti.
they triple the prices if you are a foreigner.
I became friends with an italian that lives there and own a pharmacy
after a life managing/ owning night clubs in spain. he helped me a lot
with prices and finding me a nice cheap hotel.
the taxi driver tells me 800 pesos to the airport -
seems fair – when we are almost there he tells me mil-800 pesos 1800 pesos
i tell him he told me 800 i can give him 1000 because he waited for me 5
he asks me 50 pesos for the toll
and i tell him the sign says 30 pesos
at the airport i then give him 900 pesos and he is fine with it.
in santo domingo there are all these armed guards with shotguns and M16s
in front of large stores and hotels everywhere.
in Jacmel I never seen anything like that.
some people asked me money for food
or the rasta guy at the beach that watched my bag while i went swimming
just asked me to buy a couple of beers for a dollar each while he told
I wish i made it more to the mountains and to the Baissin Bleu waterfalls.
I wish I ate another lobster bouillabaisse for 5 US$ at the Cyvadier
maybe next time.
I gave 20 $ to a woman that lost her house in the river and now had nothing
I helped the family I stayed at buy a generator.
I swam half a mile from the beach a couple of times to go to the bathroom
i met intellectuals – the former mayor jailed and exiled by papa doc
and formerly exiled professor that loves his adoptive city of montreal
i met analphabets that showed me their ravaged homes filled with hungry
yet joyful kids -
I have met 23 year olds running shelters – I met people that ran art
studios and galleries -
i met vodou priestess and atheist people.
i saw no journalists no gov’t officials , little help
in Santo Domingo apart the people hustling for money – I ran in 2
journalists with a black ribbon on their mouths.
The press is not free there they told me.
I bought a couple of haitian paintings on the street for $20 -
one reminded me of california artist Thomas Campbell
> Dutty Boukman was a houngan, or vodoun priest whose death was considered a catalyst to the slave uprising that marked the beginning of the Haïtian Revolution. Boukman was born in Jamaica.
> In late August of 1791, Boukman conducted a ceremony at the Bois Caïman and prophesied that the slaves Jean François, Biassou, and Jeannot would be leaders of a slave revolt that would free the slaves of Saint-Domingue.
> Soon after the uprising began, French authorities captured Boukman and executed him by beheading. The French then publicly displayed Boukman’s head in an attempt to dispel the aura of invincibility that Boukman had cultivated. The attempt failed.
> Haitians honored Boukman by admitting him into the pantheon of loa (Vodou spirits).
sometimes I shoot for local brooklyn papers for quick cash and bike exercise.
politicians / get togethers / news stuff.
during the summer block parties are the thing happening in brooklyn on sunny weekends -
i once attended a lecture by this photographer Bill Owens that made an amazing book called “suburbia”
from his newspaper work in the 70s
these assignments remind me of that book.
this saturday my itinerary included ft greene , prospect heights, canarsie, flatbush.
the more you get closer to the ocean the nicer the streets look.
green blocks – neatly trimmed hedges, yards with flowers and plants.
middle class gatherings that are more about sharing food, sitting in the yards, letting the kids play in the street.
the parties closer to the heart of flatbush
where people live in apartment buildings on narrower blocks
the music is louder – people drink beer -
the street basketball is intense
and i can see some of these kids eventually playing in a pro team in a few years.
- it is a good training for me sometimes to try to make something look exciting even if it is bland -
but i need always to get some shots for myself – the papers have not so much use for close ups / details or pictures where people don’t look happy / smiling/ having a good time.
but i am always drawn to the details of the faces -
something that would look good full page maybe.
an undercover police car was speeding and crashed into a red car driven by an older man.
red and green gas spilled on the street -
no one was really hurt -
it could have been worse.
a cop had a taser gun on his belt -
and a regular gun too.
quietly the NYPD started carrying these yellow plastic electric shock stun gun
meant to disable people but sometimes produced lethal consequence.
there is an old dutch cemetery and victorian houses off east 21st st / church ave / flatbush ave -
looks like somewhere in northern europe – somewhere a few centuries old
i quickly rode to the knitting factory to catch awesome color -
was tired -
had to drink a late night coffee
and the show was tight and loud
a pixieish girl backstage was wearing some home made earplugs that looked like some fashion accessory
stopped by prospect park
the rara bands playing as usual -
now it is easier to take photos
people are not so suspicious of me anymore -
so i can focus on getting new shots – just find different ways – perspectives – approaches.
click here for a slideshow. 36-something images
report related to photos
biking to Manhattan
i make a different turn on
south 3rd street @ Havemeyer -
artist Kat is finishing a mural -
a few nights earlier Lil-Rich age 22 was shot in the face
for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
a fight between 2 groups started at the Giglio fest and the commotion
Lil Rich walked to see what was happening
and got hit by a bullet shot by a 15 / 16 year old kid.
when he was on the ground they also tried to stab him.
His grieving neighbors said he was a good kid. not a gang kid – not a
Ernesto a long time resident of South 3rd st told me there is still some
But nothing like 20 years ago when the whole neighborhood was divided
into Puerto Rican, Dominican , Black gangs and you could not go on the
Now there is tension between the kids of South 3rd and those of South 9th.
I am tired after having rode all day in the heat to coney island -
Manhattan and so on and having shot the Siren festival for the Voice -
3 Rara bands are playing
The trumpet are made with sheet metal -
each trumped has only one note -
so some musicians old 3 or 4 in different length.
they have some sort of formation when they march.
a lady with a white headbands lights candles and incense
while a band is playing a Petro vodou tune.
coney island -
siren festival -
it took me longer than expected the stop at the canal street post office.
i have 50 minutes to get to coney island -
it is maybe 95 degrees -
and i get to the siren festival 5 minutes early
i rode as fast as i could in the scorching heat
sometimes i had to look down to let more air flow into my helmet.
i drink half a bottle of water and i pour half of it on my head and neck -
and i am up on stage shooting
the L-Carnitine has been a wonder -
i recuperate fast
i just wish i was wearing swim trunks rather than jeans
and i keep alternating Gatorades and beer
it is better than last year
but Stephen Malkmus is so loud that i cant hear the music.
after the show -
wish someone could watch my stuff – and swim in the ocean -
but after all
looks like a dump
people leave all sort of trash.
i wonder how can they leave the beach like that.