Thursday, August 31, 2006

I have returned from Haiti and there’s much to report from the trip. However, because of my manuscript’s deadline and the beginning of the academic year I’ll have to keep my comments brief. So here goes…

Digicel in Haiti

On June 19th blogger Alice B from kiskeyAcity posted an entry about “Jamaica based telecom” giant Digicel’s arrival in Haiti in May. As I sat in the back seat of my uncle’s pickup on the ride from the airport and saw hordes of Digicel ads on billboards my mind ventured back to Alice’s post. My uncle, a Haiti-Tel subscriber, and DadVoila, a Comcel-Voila subscriber, thought that Digicel’s presence was tame and seemed to agree with the many of the respondents to Alice’s blog entry.

Imagine my surprise then when I arrive at my grandfather’s homestead and see a Digicel antenna staring back at me as I stood on my aunt’s balcony. There is also a Comcel-Voila antenna within range, but the Digicel antenna seemed towered over it. In a country that to my knowledge doesn’t have any skyscrapers to speak of, cell phone antennas are beginning to take that role and altering the visual landscape of the island. These enormous caterpillars are now obstructing breathtaking views of the mountains and downtown Petion Ville. These antennas are a small price to pay for more jobs and a competitive phone market where consumers benefit, at least in the interim.

Ironically enough, my little cousin who had a Digicel phone experienced the most phone troubles during the course of my trip. There were numerous times where he had to roam around his house and or my grandfather’s courtyard in search of a signal. I do not know whether his experiences are emblematic of other Digicel users’ experiences, but I could not help chuckling at the sight of him walking around the house staring intently at his phone and gritting his teeth for the appearance of more bars on his mobile, meanwhile his carrier’s antenna was less than half a mile away. C’est une comedie…

We need more people/We need better coverage

Throughout the trip, my aunts and uncles kept on reiterating that when I get back I tell my family members in the states that Haiti is not as nightmarish, or rather to use their word, “[as] diabolique,” as they think. They pleaded with me to encourage the other folks in my family to start reciprocating with the visits and to suspend with the horror stories about the country that are going to keep my younger cousins living in the states from ever developing a relationship with the island. I will elaborate more on these conversations later, but it is understood that they were rather thought provoking.

Along the same lines, one night while watching Tele-Ginen, a Haitian news broadcast, a reporter was talking with a man from Cite Soleil. During their conversation the Cite Soleil resident praised the reporter/Tele-Ginen for being the lone station courageous enough to come into Cite Soleil to see how things really are, rather than just churning out dreadful tales about the district without ever stepping foot. I could neither verify nor dispute the man’s praises for Tele-Ginen, but I did find his comments to be emblematic of the concerns of most Haitian residents about how the island is being represented.

Lighter Notes

Note 1: Never Do It Again

One of my aunts told me that I let the airline take advantage of me by not bringing more luggage/cargo into the country. Her comments made me rethink my decision to travel light, and I was struck with a moments worth of guilt for not bringing gifts for everyone. “What did it matter that my parents had just arrived here with a barrel of provisions and who knows how many suitcases,” I thought to myself, “I could’ve still brought more.” Then she cut me a look and as to reinforce her point, “never let them do that to you again,” and my guilt quickly subsided, “oui ma’tante” I will never let the airlines take advantage of me by traveling light again.

Note 2: I Rest my Case

Regular readers of this blog know about my ongoing dispute with fellow Haitian blogger The Haitian Eclectic over the Shakira and Wyclef song “Hips Don’t Lie.” I think it ranks right up there with peanut butter as great contributions, but The Haitian Eclectic doesn’t have much of a taste for it. Well, on my last night in Haiti, I was watching videos with my youngest cousin Saradia when “Hips Don’t Lie” came on. She asked me if I like the song/Wyclef and I proudly said “yes.” Saradia then announced her own adoration for this song, punctuating her comments with, “I don’t know how anyone cannot like this song, or anything that has Shakira and Wyclef in it.”

Until next time,

The Nightshift Chronicler

3 comments:

Rich said...

rotfl
dude the song is catchy
but please
wyclef is hella lazy producer

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thedownpayment said...

i dont like the song.