Travel changes us. You’ve probably noticed that you are not the same since you came back from that euro trip or that you don’t feel like forks and knives are so useful after eating with your hands for so long in India. You daydream of the times when your biggest fear was to miss the train. You felt so light at the other side of the world! Walking in these streets where people looked at you as if they could detect you were not from here. But if there is one thing you know for sure, it’s that traveling made you grow. After eating street food everyday for a month, you are no longer afraid of trying new things. You are no longer afraid to talk to strangers because you’ve been the stranger for so long. And in the middle of it all, you see your home with different eyes. I think that before traveling, I failed to embrace my home’s reality. See, the thing in Haïti is that the line separating the different social classes is so thick that when you have access to a certain comfort, you are no longer exposed to certain reality. This can be blamed on the social organization in general. If the public transportation were clean and organized enough, it wouldn’t matter to which social class you belong too. We would all use it just like it’s supposed to be. Unfortunately, the lack of maintenance and simple organization makes it almost impossible for someone who owns a car to CHOOSE to take public transportation. This does not only touch this area! Street markets are mostly explored by people of the lowest class because middle class people prefer to send them to buy their vegetables. Walking in the streets is a sign of ‘poverty’ and the list goes on. To be honest, it makes me sad. I shouldn’t restrain myself from wandering in my own city’s streets nor should I be afraid of going alone to a street market. These things that are part of who we are as Haitian are reserved to the less fortunate simply because they are not cleaned or organized enough. To go straight to the point, a few days ago, my Tunisian coworker took me somewhere close to my house so we could try ‘madan Luk pate kòde’. In case you don’t know what a pate kòde is, it is a fried flour with basically anything you want in it. A must try if you visit Haiti! Some are home-made but nothing beats the street pate kòde. We drove to this narrow street asking for madan luk to anybody we found on the streets. When we finally found the place, it was located at the end of a little street where nobody would guess that there was a restaurant. Surprisingly many cars were parked in the front!! And every single one of them were clients. The food was so good I burned my tongue. Oops! And the spicy sauce on the side was on point. I surely didn’t regret looking for this little spot in the middle of the night. There is a great chance I will go back! Especially that it is barely 4 minutes away from my house by walk. When I got back home, I took a minute to think. Traveling has made me somewhat different in the sense that I seek more and try to understand more the reality of my country. It’s like traveling made it impossible for me to stay passive. I started to wonder why these little things that bring us so much joy are mostly well-known by foreigners. Now, I know that there is magic with hidden little spots but my analysis goes deeper than that
Why is it more difficult to embrace the reality in my home town? Why is it more difficult for us to be ‘real’ Haitians?
I’ve always noticed that foreigners were most likely to embrace our culture. Why? Because most of them are used to being comfortable to explore every aspect of their home town. And even while traveling, I noticed that the reflex is to blend in. While it is easy to notice these problems in my home country and not be touched by them, traveling changes the way you look at things. You become more aware of certain things and you have this desire to bring positive change. Seeing what happens at the other side of the world makes you wonder why you can’t do this or that at home. And that’s the beauty of it. My dream for my home country is to make these normal and cultural aspects easily accessible to everyone. Having public spots so clean that I don’t have to avoid them, having street markets so well-organized that grocery doesn’t seem like a chore but as a way to spend a saturday afternoon. I believe that traveling makes us wiser because it awakens in us the desire to do better with the resources that we have. It is not about desiring what our climate and environment can’t offer but it is realizing
Wow, I can attract many tourists if I make a proper use of what I DO have
Just like this tiny restaurant hidden in a dark spot, we all have hidden resources, Well, hidden is not a good word since it assumes that these resources are not easy to find. I’d rather say unused resources. In case you are wondering how writing this post will make a difference, well I don’t know about you but I am about to start writing my business plan…not just this post. And I encourage you to do the same. The things that bother you the most should be changed by you. Remember good things take time…putting it on paper is the easiest part so get ready and start early. This reminds me once again how important it is to be a globetrotter…They say traveling makes you richer. Guess what, it can make your home country richer too xoxo A travel lover