March 13, 2014

12pm. First swim in the Caribbean Sea done. Luca likes the pebbles beach because he can’t stand the sand between his toes. I can’t find a laying position without a stone piercing my lung or stomach. It’s hard walking on the stones and getting out from the water is difficult because there’s a short climb to do and you sink and I really can’t come out. I must crawl and move my weight on my arms. Luca laughs really hard at this sight and threatens to record a video.

1.30pm Amelina, with sweet dark eyes, sold us for a few cents a delicious cake made with nuts and a lot of sugar. The sun is out. Soon it’s going to be impossible to stay at the beach.

los patos

Big lunch at the beach today: lobster with fried bananas and a nice fried fish with rice and chickpeas. I’m scared about the bill though. Other people have brought a beach umbrella, they were cleverer than us. Amelina is now in the shade with them, hoping to get some more cash. 950 RDS the bill, 16 euro. Not bad.

2.07pm We are at the hotel’s swimming pool. It’s too hot to be around. Here we are in the shade, with a nice breeze, a cactus and a palm tree on one side, banana trees on the others, in the background the bleating of a goat, the parrot calling Gionatan (one of Giordano’s sons) and a rooster from time to time.

The swimming pool at Hotelito Oasi Italiana

6pm Little break. Esprite and coke. We went to see the natural pool at the end of the small river, but it was too in the shade to jump in. The ocean was too wild and it scared me (people in the slums don’t scare me, the ocean does).

The natural pool at Los Patos
The natural pool at Los Patos

So we layed at the beach thinking on what to do next. Giordano already told us that it’s better to avoid Haiti, the capital is dangerous and the whole country is expensive. But I didn’t want to believe him. According to the Lonely Planet it does seem a mess actually. To go from Jacmel, that is in the South-East, to Port Salut, still in the South, it looks like you have to go to Port-au-Prince, North of Jacmel, at about three hours from there and three more hours to go back South, instead of driving along the coast. Maybe for the first time the Lonely Planet is not really helpful. And there are very few hotels at 40 USD. In Port Salut, West of Jacmel, where there seem to be some beautiful beaches, hotels have crazy prices. So I don’t really want to go. In the Dominican Republic there are enough interesting places to keep us busy for 6 weeks, among beaches, natural parks and towns. We’ll see. We’ll do a research in the web and decide once we are in Pedernales (a dominican town at the border with Haiti).

casetta tipica della Repubblica Dominicana

8.14pm There’s another guy from Verona at the hotel tonight. He’s volunteering in a mission near Port-au-Prince for half and a half months. He thinks Haitians hate white people. Maybe they smile at your face because they need a tip or other, but as soon as you turn they want to stab you. And they don’t want to work, when you are not watching they sit down. It might be because of all the international help they are getting: they know they can get something to eat with no need to work. Well, I don’t know if this is true or if it’s just a wrong impression this guy had. And it’s not because they are black, like some racist might think, because here in the Dominican Republic they are also black and they do work, maybe not at the speed we are used to in the North of Italy, but is ours the right way of living? Anyway, this guy from Verona confirmed an impression I have had for some time: the International Aid industry is a “magneria”, as we would say in Veneto, an embezzlement. Of the billions of dollars that were donated in the United States after the earthquake, only 3% was actually used in the island (this is what he said, I didn’t verify). The 97% was spent in the organizations, in administration costs, salaries, expensive vehicles, etc. This really makes me angry. I actually thought of working in this field when I was younger, but realized it’s not how it looks. I think the best way to help poor countries is to stop exploiting their resources and let their citizens move to other countries, if there is need to work.

The Veronese also advised against Haiti, that is a mess. Because they are so poor, they assault tourists anywhere, because tourists always carry some money; some time ago in Port-au-Prince they shot a couple of tourists coming out from a bank and they didn’t even have cash with them; you must be careful all the time, etc. And the news is that from Ainse-a-Pitre (the small town on the other side of the border from Pedernales) you have to get on an overnight boat to get to Jacmel, a wooden boat like a fishermen boat, just a bit bigger, that sometimes sink and people die. Mmm… At this point I got tingling and an urge to go there.

boats in Los Patos, Dominican Republic
Boats and kids at Los Patos

Some clients call Giordano: their car broke and they are stuck along the road. He asks his waiter/helper/slave/all-around to give him his rifle, gets on the jeep and goes getting them. It’s 9.30 in the night and he doesn’t go anywhere without a rifle, because here it is safe, but it’s better to be cautious.