Monday, June 8, 2015

Tourism in Haiti

This is a nice little article about what a cool place Haiti is to visit.  It treats Haiti not like some horrid, squalid apocalypse zone, but rather like a normal country, that is to say a place with interesting cultural quirks to see, where you can have a lot of fun if you're interested in seeing new things.  The sentence where the author looks into the resilient, proud faces of the noble people is a bit much, but the rest of the article is a fresh-faced look at what Haiti has to offer the visitor.  It's funny, because Haiti today, at least in the tourist attractions that the author describes, isn't much different from what it was five or ten or forty years ago.  There have always been taptaps, and the history museum, and the bustling iron market, and the beautiful views of the mountains and ocean.  But depending on the prevailing "common knowledge" of the rest of the world, people go through trends of seeing the country as a Caribbean jewel, a despondent basketcase, a promising economy, a sex tourism destination, an AIDS-ridden cesspool, a violent warzone, an emblem of resilience or despair.  And of course the country is affected by the way outsiders see it, because that reputation determines who visits, who invests, who does mission trips or donates used underwear or whatever.  But the actual status of violence in the country, of AIDS, of growth, of poverty, has very little to do with outsiders' image-du-jour.  I guess it's similar to Colombia, which was still considered a decent place for Peace Corps and travelers in the midst of its highest rates of violence, and then afterward, when it became much more peaceful and prosperous, was plagued by images of Pablo Escobar twenty years after he'd died!

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