Haitians loves Football (soccer for North Americans).
In the summer they organize "vacation championships" (best translation I could come up with) in many neighborhoods in the Capital. Teams from near by neighborhoods play in the tournament.
Many Haitians are also crazy fans of the brazilian soccer team, and when I say brazilian soccer team, I mean any one the the brazilian soccer teams, if it's Brazil they love it , they will even go on the streets to celebrate Brazil's victory.
Fans of Brazil are called "Brazilians", fans of Argentina are called "Argentinians", those are the two most popular teams. Sometimes you might even see decorated streets with the colors of one of those countries when they have to play major matches, that's when there is a brazilian or a argentinian "baz" in the area.
A "baz" is just a group of people who get together because they have some common interest like in this case, fans of a team who live in the same neighborhood might get together to do activities like street decorations , or whatever they can come up with to celebrate "their" team.
Being the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, many hatians cannot afford televisions. The main way of getting up to speed on news (that I observed) was to listen to the radio. Apparently there is over 100 radio stations in Haiti. It is a great way to learn aobut their culture.
*When I was in Haiti everyone seemed to be stuck to their radios listening to the latest news and protests. We had brought a few hand held radios for the students at the clinic and they carried them everywhere they went!
The two official languages in Haiti are French and Creole. If you can speak well in french you should have no trouble communicating with locals. If you only speak some french it will definetly help. Most understand that it may be difficult for you to understand them so they are willing to slow down.
Also it is always nice to learn a few phrases in someones language....
quick tip on Creole----
Ki j'en ou ye = How are you? You will recieve a few nice smiles for this...
Carrying all sorts of goods on top of their heads is still the most common way of transportation umong women.
This pic was taken at the market in Port-au-Prince.
I do not remember a single MAN carrying something on his head
It was quite usual in many ports in the Carribean that children were waiting for cruiseships to arrive in the port.
Passengers were throwing cent-coins or quaters into the sea and the children jumped after them , dived into the sea and caught the money with their mouth, without even taking them into their hands.
It was somehow fascinating and disgusting at the same time to watch this spectacle.
Visit the local markets and you will get a deep insight into everyday life of most of the people in Haiti.
I remember, I even saw once a family of 2 persons, taking a "shower" in one of the puddles beeing maybe 10 cm deep.
They were sitting there in the puddle and ladled the water with a small pot, pooring the bit of water over their body.
They even had some kind of soap and nobody of the ladies nearby, selling their fruits cared about them at all.
I did not dare to take a picture, but this scene always gets into my mind, when Haiti and Port-au-Prince is in the TV-news again...
Visiting churches in Haiti is a must, when you are interested in customs and everyday life of the local people.
Have a look for the lovely "primitive" paintings around the altar.
This picture was taken in 1985, inside a dark church, without flash and a long time before someone even thought of digital photography. - sorry for the rather bad quality !
Haitians are very assertive. Although to some westerners it may look like they are fighting, it is simply there way to communicate. It is also important for you as a traveler to become assertive when needed. Especially with those haitians who are trying to sell you things.
Fishing seems to be very popular as a way to make a living in Haiti. You will see them use very 'low tech' equipement to fish. Sometimes just a piece of wood with some fishing line on the end of it. They are very good at it and it is proof you don't need titanium or graphite crap to catch fish!!!!
There is always a great selections of fish at any restaurant or hotel you go to. I reccomend trying the fish. It is very delicious!
The majority of the population of Haiti is catholic.
Twice I have been in Port of Prince exactely on december 24th and it was a really strange feeling to have christmas in the hot sun, and the palmtrees, surrounding the crib are real ones, and not artificial like at home in Austria, where it is always freezing cold at Christmas.
Somehow it also gave me a bad feeling to see, how people were treated by politicians and police on one hand and on the other hand also the "official Haiti" was celebrating the festivity of brotherhood and peace in the public park around the government building with a life-sized crib, shown on my picture...
Haiti is definetly filled with some pretty crazy drivers! However I admired all of them for one reason! They all used there horn all the time! The best thing about this is that no one would ever get ticked off at each other for honking. It was mostly used as an alert system or a warning! It's the only thing regarding driving that I was impressed with!
A vehicle with a Horn that works is necessary in Haiti!
A man had specifically come to talk to our group about Voodoo. It was quite interesting even if some of what he said seemed to be his own personal opinion. I took away more about culture then voodoo really. If you can organize it while you there, I encourage you to jump on the opportunity to sit through this sort of presentation....make sure to keep an open mind...