Taoreader Contemplates Haiti (With Bonus Dog Interlude)


Well, it’s kind of Haiti.

I mean, I’m definitely in Haiti, but Royal Caribbean owns the entire cove (I think it’s a cove, I should look up that word) where we dock. And actual Haitian people work here, but they all work for the cruise line. This is all just fine, though perhaps not what you would call an authentic Haitian experience. But I’m on a cruise; I’m here for the food and writing time anyway. And my nightly Titos on the the rocks with twist. Okay, two Titos on the rocks with a twist.

~I Miss My Dog Interlude~

My dog is a petulant little jackass who hates almost everybody but me and I adore him and will kick the ass of anyone who looks at him sideways. He is Tiberius and rules the entire domain of grass around my building. There are a few other dogs around who think they own it, and I can’t make friends with any dog owners because Tiberius hates them and is very vocal about it. If you are a fluffy white dog of any breed, he would rather yell expletives and chase you off the sidewalk then let you traipse on by as if you have a right to exist in this world.

His Pet Hotel has a program called Furrever Connected! and you can bet I paid the extra money for it. They send me pictures every day which is the main reason I pay the outrageous fee for cruise internet access.

His ears are back, so I know he’s anxious and doesn’t like all the activity. He is a little snowflake flower who wants to be the only child and center of all things. I’ll be there soon, baby!


I just like sand, okay?

There are cabanas and things you can rent over in the “beach club,” but all I need is my towel and some sand. So that’s what I went for. Three times, some guy came up and we had some version of this exchange:

“Madam, do you want a lounge chair?”

“No thanks, I’m good.”

“But Madam, this is free.”

“I understand. I like being on the sand.”

“You are sure?”

“Quite. Thank you.”

“Would you like a Corona? Or other beer? We have other beer. Red Stripe?”

“I’m good, really. Thanks.”

It is very hard for some men to see a petite female-type human all by her frail self with no chair. It’s their job to fix that problem. When I tell them there is no problem to fix, they find it befuddling and leave with a strange facial expression, something like anger, but not anger, more like confusion about how they don’t understand how the world is supposed to work.

Well, join the club guys. I understand virtually nothing about this world.

There’s one of those line thingies–I’m right here on the cruise and I can’t remember what they call them–where people ride on down fairly fast across the water in harnesses. It’s in front of me on the beach and it’s fun to watch people who normally spend most of their time on the couch or in a chair do something relatively active.

Gravity doesn’t work as well, though, on small people. This lady got stuck in mid-air. The dudes literally had to get out on the beach and pull on ropes attached to her harness to get her back on land. I can’t believe this is their plan B.


ZIPLINE! I feel so much better.

I am trying really hard to talk about Haiti.

The truth is I don’t think my photos do it justice. Where the ship is docked, I see our little beach and the most beautiful rolling green mountains that stretch back, one after another, layered at different heights, until they look like they’re fading away.

I know some of Haiti’s violent history–the horrific kidnapping and enslavement of African people forced to work on sugar plantations, the villages of escaped people who lived and hid in the mountains, the days when they came down and helped guillotine and murder everyone who wasn’t clearly, obviously, black; because it was the clearly, obviously, black who were so horrifically exploited. It’s a lesson in violence begetting violence. It’s essential history.

I can hardly imagine these mountains hiding the escapees who just wanted to live a free life. Everything seems lovely and calm; the weather is perfect with few clouds and a gentle breeze; some dudes are playing music with claves and maracas; other dudes are selling freshly-cut coconuts, with or without rum. I should have taken some pictures of these dudes, but I’m too distracted by mountains and beach.

Of course, the dudes playing the claves and maracas are also selling claves and maracas. Cruising is nothing if not a week-long worship of capitalism. But, you guys, I get to see these mountains!


About taoreader

Writer and Editor. Pianist and singer. Feminist and proponent of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. I don't get it either. I wish I could have dinner with Marie Curie.
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16 Responses to Taoreader Contemplates Haiti (With Bonus Dog Interlude)

  1. taoreader says:

    You guys, I made the picture at the top into a cruise ship! What? I’m not sure how I did that.

  2. hotspur says:

    This is a highly enjoyable tour of [one tiny corner of] Haiti. It makes me want to go, which I would not have predicted. And also, I very much enjoy that you named your dog Tiberius.

    • taoreader says:

      Apologies if I’ve told this story before:

      I lived in Boston for many years, but for one of those years I lived in Cambridge right near Harvard Square. I was surrounded by Harvard profs, retired profs, daughters and sons of profs, grad students, etc.

      More than once–seriously, like four or five times, someone asked me my dog’s name and the following ensued:

      “His name is Tiberius. Please don’t try to pet him, he hates everybody.”
      “Oh yes, of course!” (big smile.) The Roman emperor, during the time of Christ, when blah blah blah and the thing…..”
      “Well, yeah…”
      “You must be a classics major. Are you working on your Ph.D?”
      “I’m getting an MFA at Lesley, actually, but…”
      “You must love history.”
      “I do! But my dog is named after… well, you know Star Trek?”
      “The show from the late ’60s? Sci-fi?”
      (Blank face)
      “The one with Spock?”
      “I’ve heard of Spock. The ears!”
      “Yes! My dog is named after Captain James T. Kirk.”
      “His middle name is Tiberius?”
      “Well, you have a nice day.”

  3. Tracey says:

    I love everything about this! Thank you for sharing all the pictures. The weather looks incredible. The only part of this story that I don’t understand is when you turned down the beer. But your vacation, your choices!

  4. LOL I didn’t know Tiberius was the Captain’s middle name. Now I’m ready for Game Night when we play Trivial Pursuit.

  5. And why no banana daiquiri on the beach?

  6. actionjackson5 says:

    When I was in the Peace Corps, I observed that some coastal African countries have places were sections of the beach were a convenient toilet. I’m not suggesting this was the case here, but that might explain his befuddlement about you not wanting a chair.

  7. taoreader says:

    Oh that’s interesting. Culturally it could have a whole alternative meaning to be “in the sand.”

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