I'm pretty sure this isn't a technical term, but it is hot hot hot as balls today. Like holy s$@*%! Lauren and I tried to go on a early morning excursion to find the grocery store, but between the pounding heat and the constant game of Frogger we are playing dodging motorcyclists on the main road, we gave up. We all get Wednesday mornings off so we coordinated to go do some Internet work at Florita and then check out the neighboring artisanal community that Jacmel is famous for.
I resigned myself from 7 am this morning that I would be a sticky hot mess all day. There was no escaping that. This would be a full sunblock and hat day.
We gladly sought shelter from the magnitude of the sun at Florita, who's bar is lined with revolving wall fans. You don't even know how clutch fans are until you come to Haiti.
That's our iguana friend (I forget his name) who lives at The Florita sometimes. Apparently, he too needed some shelter from the beating sun today!
Jacmel is known for its local art. A lot of the homes that display the art and serve as art studios used to be charming old French mansions from during their reign in Haiti.
I absolutely love looking at handicrafts, so I made the bold trek under stifling heat with Diana and Reginald (a contrabassist from the school) around the various craft hovels. Everything is made by hand, with such vivid colors and care taken in each brush stroke. The Haitian artists tend to create a lot of patterns of fruits or flowers - quite true to their tropical locale. They also do a tremendous amount of weaving- beautiful bags and pot holders hand crafted purely from white straw and dyed straws. Painting is also a frequently practiced trade for these artists - extremely vibrant and vivid paintings of scenery, dancing bodies, and other festive moments dot the sides streets waiting to be bought by foreigners passing by.
Paper mâché is also a big handicraft here. Vases, masks, jewelry, coasters are all expertly made here by paper mâché and then painted in bright pinks, blues, greens, etc.
Heidi in a sexy paper mâché mask. Now I know what to be for Halloween next year.
Along our walk, an older man approached us asking if we'd like to see his shops. His family was from Venezuela so he also spoke Spanish, which meant I could communicate with him and that made me happy! He told me the Haitian community is like one big family. Everyone looks after each other and takes care of each other. He said that all of the artists work together with each other as a collective unit, and so not only did he support us buying from his store, but also the stores of his friends. Because of these collaborative spirit, a lot of the shops have similar things, or slight variations of the pieces.
Even the surrounding area of the artist community is a work of art itself - beautiful, vibrant and color pops of graffiti line the sides of the street. The ocean and lilting palm trees beckon in the back. It looks like a painting itself.
The outside of one of the shops we were taken to:
Even as the hot sun was oppressively hanging over us, I couldn't get enough of the shops and the surrounding area. There was just such a beauty and peace to it all. That's our Venezuelan friend we made (sadly, who's name I forgot!) who took us around to all the various artist shops.
The afternoon was packed with five hours of lessons back to back. The students I had ran the gamut from 12 years old - 50 years old, some instrumentalist wanting to learn how to sing, to some who are experienced, to some just starting out. Regardless of where they are at, everyone is so inquisitive and excited to be singing, it really is amazing and makes me so happy to be able to hand down my knowledge. When I give direction and hear or see that change being carried out and thus improving the musicality of the song, that is just when I feel so so lucky to improve these amazing musicians' knowledge. I am also amazed at how fast of a learner everyone seems to be- it's clear that the Haitian people just have music coursing through their veins.
The other thing that I am realizing is that because English is not known to many of my students, learning lyrics can be quite tedious and take up a large part of the lesson. So we have been learning songs on vowels rather than words, and then add the words in later.
During the evening I went to hear 'Friendship Jazz' rehearse again at the school. There have swag, there is no other way to put it. You can't help but pop your booty when you hear them play. They just have something that can't be taught. They invited me to come sing at their concert tomorrow, which I am really honored and excited about!
Their rehearsal left me in such a great mood until upon our return we found the power to be out. You have no idea how effing hot it is. Lauren and I did a little power chant under candlelight- we need moving air!!! It was too hot to fall asleep, and finally our prayers were answered with the electricity coming back ! We happily fell asleep, but awoke again to the sauna of the night as once the power went out at 2 am (as it always does each night to save usage of electricity.) Nevertheless, some how we managed to sleep through the night!