If you have ever been to Haiti you must have been struck by the overpopulated cities, you certainly felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of people walking up and down the streets in what can sometimes be unbearable heat, you were undoubtedly charmed by the amazing beauty of our beaches and
awed by the majesty of our mountains…they seem to be
everywhere those mountains; plopped there by God long ago. Now and then, a little village nestled between beautiful mountains and seaside will beckon your attention. Sometimes Haiti has poetry in its dysfunction.
Someone once told me, and she was right (R.I.P. Mrs. M.), “you can never really leave Haiti”…I
understand what she meant, it has a way of imprinting itself in your very core.
But I digress; today, I wanted to talk about “Mardi Gras” (Fat Tuesday).
It is the traditionally pagan holiday that precedes lent, it is the day before Ash Wednesday. Well i
n Haiti, “
” is a
phenomenon. As a child the name would send such fear through my very being that for several weeks, on Sundays, I dreaded walking out of my house. The tradition was that for the Sundays that preceded the three-day celebration people dressed in costumes, one scarier than the other, would
go around neighborhoods scaring children. Boy, was I scared! As a result, “Carnaval” has had this
terrible connotation of fear and horror and it is not my favorite period of the year. I am a minority
when it comes to my feelings (or lack thereof) about “Carnaval”.
In Haiti and in the Haitian communities abroad, millions of people live for these three days of celebrating, dancing, drinking and letting go. It is the one time of the year where people of all walks of life, regardless of social status will get together and forego their inhibitions to express themselves and experience life as freely as they can. It is an experience to be had. As we speak, on February 4, 2014, one would be hard pressed to find a seat on an airplane bound to Haiti on any of the days
preceding this year’s celebration.
Tickets have been bought, rooms have been booked and many in the US and elsewhere are trying to devise the right excuse to escape the responsibilities of work for 3 to 5 crazy merry days.