jeudi 31 juillet 2014

Btc Eyes Haiti Mobile Market


Tribune Business Reporter

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is still aiming to enter Haiti’s cellular market, its chief executive confirmed yesterday, arguing that the carrier would effectively be “dead in the water” if it did not expand outside this jurisdiction.
Speaking at a private sector luncheon to host Haitian president Michel Martelly, Leon Williams said that with new players expected to provide competition in the Bahamian cellular market by either 2015 or 2016, the company would have to grow outside the Bahamas.
Mr Williams said Haiti represented that opportunity, as BTC has already extended an under-sea fibre optic cable to that country. “In 2005 we negotiated building the fibre submarine cable into Haiti. We had looked at working with the government of Haiti,” he explained.
“We had made an offer to work with Teleco de Haiti and looked at the possibility of a GSM license, and and an ISP (Internet) license and a cable license. We didn’t capitalise on it and there was a changing of administrations in 2007, and so nothing happened with Haiti.
“We still have the cable there, it’s working, it’s underutilised and certainly BTC would like to go back into Haiti and see what the possibilities are.” Mr Williams. added: “Since we didn’t take the opportunity, Digicel went in. Digicel has 3.5 million customers in Haiti compared to a Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), which has 1.3 million in the entire Caribbean.
“I don’t have to tell you that Haiti is Digicel’s number one money earner, and compared to what they take out of Haiti to what BTC’s total package is in the Bahamas, it is almost two to three times as much.”
Some observers will argue that BTC has already ‘missed the boat’ on Haiti, and that it and its controlling shareholders would be better off first focusing on preparing it to fight off cellular competition on its home turf in the Bahamas. It is also unclear whether entering Haiti would fit with CWC’s plans.
Mr Williams said that while BTC has remained competitive as the dominant monopoly carrier for cellular services, it has its share of challenges ahead.
The challenge for BTC is it is the dominant monopoly carrier of cellular in the Bahamas. We have always been in competition for the Internet services,” he said. Cable Bahamas launched Internet services long before us, so we were playing catch up. SRG, which was acquired by Cable Bahamas, actually is competing with us. We are being competitive in the fixed-line, in data and competitive in Internet services.
Cable has television that we don’t have, and so if they were to get a mobile licence they would have quad play; we would have triple play. BTC certainly has some challenges in front of it.”
Mr Williams added: “The Bahamas is 350,000 people. There will be a new player in the market come 2015, and a third player in the market come 2016. The pie is just so much, and all you are doing is dicing it up into smaller quarters.
BTC has to extend outside the Bahamas and grow the market someplace else for top-line revenues or we are dead in the water. It’s not rocket science Some people may argue that I’m pressing the panic button, but it’s reality. Normally the rule of thumb is that a new entrant will take 33 per cent of the cellular customers; that’s 100,000.
BTC has to do something to be able to win the hearts and minds of the Bahamian people. It has to do something to win the market share. No one is going to come here to make an investment in cellular service without making a return on their investment.”

Haiti, a Destination Only for the Brave Ones

By Athena Yenko | July 31, 2014 10:29 AM EST
Haiti is swiftly becoming the favourite destination among the brave and more adventurous type of travellers.
The country had just opened its first tourism office after disasters and political unrest that plagued the country for years.
Haiti, for the meantime, is still "a place where only true travellers go; a place forthe brave and the curious," G Adventures description of the place reads. According to G Adventures' Australia and New Zealand boss, Belinda Ward, the very first small group touring in February is comprised primarily of many Australians and New Zealanders.
Ward said that Haiti has the most positivepeople who are working to move on from the tragedy that hit the country back in 2010. Haiti has world-class art and culture, real-time history and stunning beaches.
"All our suppliers are locally-based which means our travellers can return home knowing their money will stay in the country and they have been a force for good," Ward was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.
However, Australians are still being advised to observe all necessary precautions if they decided to traveller to Haiti.
The Australian government would want Aussies to reconsider their need for travel to Haiti because of unpredictable security situation and high levels of violent crime.
Those who are decided to travel the country should exercise extreme caution to avoid all demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent. It is highly advisable to monitor the local media for safety and security updates.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), there were reported cases of kidnappings and other violent crimes done to volunteers in the country.
DFAT is highly emphasising that there is an ongoing cholera outbreak in Haiti which has been active since 2010. The disease had claimed thousands of lives in the department of Sud Est and Port-au-Prince.
"We strongly advise Australians who are considering going to Haiti to undertake volunteer work to ensure they have made appropriate arrangements for placement prior to arrival in Haiti. Finding a placement with a charity in Haiti on arrival is usually not possible," DFAT said in a statement.
Furthermore, June to November is Haiti's hurricane season and landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services may occur.
Nonetheless, for those who want to brave the country, they will have the chance to enjoy a rugged place of waterfalls, secret caves, and mountains that scrape the sky, G Adventures described.
"It's a place of bold flavours, intoxicating music, mischievous gods, and colourful art; where the only thing stronger than the rum is the spirit of the people who live there."
To contact the editor, e-mail: editor@ibtimes.com

mercredi 30 juillet 2014

Haiti tipped as the next hot destination on the rise

JULY 30, 2014 12:00AM
IT’S got bright blue waterfalls, white sand beaches, incredible caves, a World Heritage listed historic site and a vibrant, artistic culture.
Welcome to a country that’s being touted as one of the world’s next hot destinations on the rise: Haiti.
Sure, there’s a few catches. Since 2010, Haiti has been struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake that left thousands dead and many more homeless. Disasters and political turmoil have plagued the Caribbean country for years.
The official Australian Government advice for Haiti remains to “reconsider your need to travel”, with those who choose to visit urged to “exercise extreme caution”.
But the country has just opened its first tourism office, and now tour operators are offering Haiti trips for those who want to beat the anticipated tourist boom.
For now, it’s still “a place where only true travellers go; a place for the brave and the curious,” according to the brochure for G Adventures, which has scheduled five trips to Haiti next year.
G Adventures’ first small group tour runs in February, and Aussies are tipped to be among the first to visit.
“We know that there will be many Australian and New Zealand travellers who will jump at the opportunity to visit Haiti,” G Adventures’ Australia and New Zealand boss, Belinda Ward, said.
“Haiti is a country full of amazing people who are really looking to move on from the tragedy in 2010.
“We are proud to be offering our travellers the opportunity to not only meet the people of Haiti but also experience their world-class art and culture, real-time history and stunning beaches.
“Bringing travellers to Haiti to experience this culture and spend locally will help Haiti to fully recover.
“All our suppliers are locally-based which means our travellers can return home knowing their money will stay in the country and they have been a force for good.”
The G Adventures 10-day Highlights of Haiti trip is priced from $2499, excluding flights.
For the latest government travel advice and warnings visit the Smartraveller website.
Six things to do and see in Haiti
• Visit the Citadelle Laferriere, a UNESCO-designated mountaintop fortress.
• Learn all about rum at a local distillery and try making the local kasav flat bread.
• Meet a voodoo priest and shop for voodoo artefacts at the Iron Market.
• See local artist communities make famous mosaics.
• Visit the turquoise Bassin-Bleu pools to cliff-dive and swim.
• Explore the Marie-Jeanne cave’s underground landscapes and massive caverns.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/haiti-tipped-as-the-next-hot-destination-on-the-rise/story-e6frg6n6-1227006278421?nk=3ba1df786f81965a3ebdad1d66025f8a •

La colonia haitiana en Costa Rica: unión y sobrevivencia

CR1 : Alexander Luxama sostiene de buena gana la bandera de Haití
. Él es hijo de Ilka Luxama, un haitiano que llegó al país hace nueve años 
y que junto a su esposa, también inmigrante de la nación caribeña, 
espera el nacimiento en unos cuantos meses de un nuevo hijo
 costarricense .(GABRIELA TÉLLEZ)
- ACTUALIZADO EL 27 DE JULIO DE 2014 A: 12:03 A.M.
San José, alrededores del Barrio Chino, Domingo 7:00 pm.
CR 5 : San José, alrededores del barrio chino, domingo 7 p. m.
 Un bus proporcionado por la iglesia se estaciona en calle 7, 
para transportar a los haitianos hasta López Mateos, 
al sur de la capital, lugar de su congregación. . 
Un bus con un pequeño grupo de personas de origen haitiano, en su mayoría niños, se estaciona en calle 7, para transportarlos hasta el Barrio López Mateo en San Sebastián, al sur de la capital. Allí son recibidos por el pastor de la Iglesia Comunidad Cristiana de Adoración y Jubilo, William Obando, quien expresa que su interés por esta comunidad inicio hace tres años aproximadamente cuando en el trayecto del bus de San Rafael de Desamparados comenzó a ver mucha gente de color, algunos de ellos vendiendo papas y plátanos.

CR 5 : San José, alrededores del barrio chino, domingo 7 p. m. 
Un bus proporcionado por la iglesia se estaciona en calle 7, 
para transportar a los haitianos hasta López Mateos, al sur de la capital,
 lugar de su congregación. . (GABRIELA TÉLLEZ)
En conjunto con otras personas de la Iglesia, se inició una investigación y encontraron un pequeño grupo de inmigrantes haitianos. El primer contacto fue difícil. “Nos enfrentamos con el primer choque cultural, el idioma, la primera barrera. Además algunos de ellos creían que eran los de inmigración los que los estaban buscando”, cuenta Obando.
Todos los domingos en la noche, un grupo de haitianos
 asiste al culto de la iglesia Comunidad Cristiana de Adoración y
Durante el primer encuentro realizado en la Iglesia, a los haitianos se les preparo una cena “de gala”, sin platos plásticos: “Vamos a usar la mejor vajilla para demostrarles el valor y el amor de Dios”, relata el pastor.
A partir de esta actividad se iniciaron las reuniones de evangelización semanales. Igualmente, se utilizó un rotulo en Creole, (su lengua natal) en el sitio en donde los haitianos usualmente se proveían las papas y otros productos que venden en la calle, para anunciar los cultos que se desarrollan hasta el día de hoy, todos los domingos al caer la noche.
Todos los domingos en la noche, un grupo de haitianos asiste 
al culto de la iglesia Comunidad Cristiana de Adoración y Júbilo.

Según datos de Migración del año 2013, se registraron 404 movimientos migratorios de parte de los haitianos, sin embargo entre la comunidad se cree que existe un grupo de al menos 150 personas, que en su mayoría no piensan establecerse en el país porque su visión de Costa Rica es la de un puente que los lleve a una calidad de vida mejor, y que les permita superarse para tener los medios económicos para emigrar hacia los Estados Unidos, cuenta Aneus Ives, quien llego a territorio nacional hace ocho años con la idea de que Costa Rica era un país rico.
Todos los domingos en la noche, un grupo de haitianos asiste
 al culto de la iglesia Comunidad Cristiana de Adoración y Júbilo.

“Pensaba que Costa Rica era un país como los Estados Unidos, o Canadá donde hay dinero. Pero cuando llegue aquí la situación fue diferente, aunque es mejor económicamente que mi país, no es un país como pensábamos, como yo personalmente pensé”, Aneus Ives, haitiano que reside en Costa Rica.

“Pensaba que Costa Rica era un país como los Estados Unidos, o Canadá donde hay dinero. Pero cuando llegue aquí la situación fue diferente, aunque es mejor económicamente que mi país, no es un país como pensábamos, como yo personalmente pensé”.
Maxi labora en una de distribuidora de alimentos que es
 propiedad de haitianos, en el centro de San José. 
Algunos de sus compatriotas han logrado consolidarse 
como comerciantes, dueños de sus propios establecimientos. 
Los primeros haitianos que arribaron a territorio nacional, al no poder hablar el idioma español se les dificulto aún más encontrar un trabajo formal, así que siguiendo el ejemplo de muchos nicaragüenses, decidieron “tirarse a la calle” para sobrevivir, a pesar de que algunos de ellos saben desarrollarse en labores como la mecánica o la pintura de casas.
CR4  Muchos haitianos trabajan en los alrededores del 
parque de las Garantias Sociales, en San José, vendiendo 
diversidad de productos comestibles para sobrevivir. 
A pesar de ser un “trabajo honrado”, la mayoría se avergüenza 
de esta labor, pues sus expectativas laborales en suelo tico eran otras. 
La barrera del idioma incide en que no puedan desempeñar 
acá el oficio que aprendieron en su tierra natal.
Ellos se declaran como una comunidad de “gente buena”, sin problemas judiciales conocidos. “Puedo decirlo sinceramente, nosotros los haitianos no tenemos vicios, ninguno toma, ninguno fuma, somos gente luchadora, respetuosa y le agradecemos a Dios por el pastor William que nos buscó“, cuenta Ives, quien colabora como el “Lider Pastor” en los cultos que se brindan en el lenguaje Creole todos los domingos, preparando cada sesión con una temática “Cristocentrica” para compartir con los haitianos residentes en Costa Rica.
Cr9: Durante el servicio religioso, a los niños menores de 10 años 
se los entretiene con actividades recreativas y una enseñanza bíblica. 
La Comunidad Cristiana de Adoración y Júbilo también refuerza su español
 y les brinda un refrigerio al final de la sesión.
Este proyecto de solidaridad se extiende hasta Haití, en donde la iglesia apoya a un comedor que le brinda ayuda a 187 niños a través de las donaciones hechas por los asistentes de la Iglesia. Durante el servicio religioso en el recinto de San Sebastián a los niños de hasta 10 años, se les atiende con actividades recreativas y una enseñanza bíblica, además de reforzarles el español y se les brinda un refrigerio al final de cada sesión.


mardi 29 juillet 2014

Haiti returns to the tourist map

Following the devastating earthquake four years ago, the 'beautiful, bedevilled’ Caribbean island of Haiti is ready to welcome visitors, says Ian Thomson By Ian Thomson
8:00AM BST 27 Jul 2014
Rum punches on the veranda of a gingerbread hotel, delicious in the tropical noon… the sound of drums, rumbling in the hills, reaching your room at night. Haiti will always be entrancing for those in search of an out-of-the-way experience. It has echoes of west Africa – the houm-doum-do from that Vodou gathering – and a dash of French custom and Latin devil-may-care cool. This was apparent on my first visit almost 25 years ago in 1990, when I gathered material for a book about the Caribbean island, Bonjour Blanc.
Last June, I returned to beautiful, bedevilled Haiti for the first time in 10 years. I was itching to see how it had changed since I wrote the book and what damage had been left by the terrible earthquake of January 12 2010. This time, I would not be travelling by jitney, lorry or fishing boat, but in taxis and air-conditioned tourist coaches.
From the air, Haiti is a sun-scorched clinker; deforestation, caused by a ruinous cutting of timber for charcoal, has destroyed much of the green. As the plane rolled smoothly along the tarmac at Port-au-Prince, the capital, a group of musicians at Immigration were shaking maracas and strumming guitars in welcome. Bright-coloured advertisements for Haitian beer and rum adorned the walls. The airport looked like any other in the West Indies.
Port-au-Prince was as exhilarating and exhausting as I remembered it. The streets, thronged with pack animals, porters and ambulatory salesmen, were a human ant heap. The smells I knew so well from the earlier visits – jasmine, burning rubbish – hit me forcefully and it was as though I had never been away.
Parts of the city were visibly still damaged from the earthquake. One of the worst natural disasters in Caribbean history, the earthquake claimed up to 316,000 lives. The National Palace was turned to dust; the twin-spired Episcopalian cathedral, the Palais de Justice and the Palais des Ministères were all pulverised. The convulsions lasted just 35 seconds, but a more graphic image of municipal chaos would be hard to imagine: the heart of Haiti’s national and civic life had been razed. Rich and poor alike were reduced to a state of homelessness and despair.
Now, four years on, Haiti is a nation on the road to recovery. The tent cities have mostly gone and I was impressed by the industry of rebuilding and sense of hope for a new start. No traveller should feel put off. The Haitian government is wooing travel companies in Europe and North America. Things are still a long way from perfect – Haiti lacks the refinements of its Caribbean neighbours – yet the US State Department considers the country safe for tourists, while the Foreign Office warns only against travel to four specific slum districts in Port-au-Prince: Carrefour, Cité Soleil, Martissant and Bel Air. Given all this, it will not be long before the first charter flights and cruise ships arrive. I would urge people to visit now, before the country is marketed as the “edgy new Cuba” and loses something of its haphazard allure.
Next day, I took the local Sunrise Airlines flight to Cap-Haïtien in the north. On a mountaintop there stands a fortress they call the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was built by King Henri Christophe of northern Haiti, who committed suicide with a silver bullet (they say) in 1820 following a coup. Obscured by clouds, the Citadel is overwhelmed at first by the king’s rococo palace of Sans Souci, intended to be the Versailles of the New World. With its terraced steps mounting like a ziggurat temple, Sans Souci resembles an Aztec or Sumerian ruin; tangled with lianas, the palace is a luminescent, haunting relic of state power.
Tourists can reach the Citadel by foot or hired horse; the walk uphill takes about two hours, but it is worth it. The Citadel was built as a defence against a return to slavery. A mass of titanic stone apparently welded to the landscape, it towers above the trees on Pic de la Ferrière like a gigantic Crusader castle. Inside, I was shown a maze of passageways, oubliettes and galleries laden with English and French cannon. They say Christophe was buried here in quicklime to deny the mobs his corpse. The view from the ramparts is one of the most magnificent in the western hemisphere: a great antiquity of mountain, forest and sea. No visit to Haiti would be complete without a Vodou ceremony. Vodou reflects the rage and ecstasy that threw off the shackles of slavery. On the night of August 15 1791, a ceremony was held outside Cap-Haïtien that marked the beginning of the African slaves’ revolt against the colonial French. (Haiti, the world’s first black republic, gained independence in 1804.) For many Haitians, Vodou is a way to rise above the misery of poverty and the devastation wreaked by hurricanes, mud slides, storms and other natural disasters. When a Haitian is possessed by a loa (spirit) he is taken out of himself and gratefully transformed.
To attend a Vodou ceremony, you have to follow the rumble of drums into the countryside. This I did on my birthday, June 24, St John’s Day. In Vodou, St John the Baptist (Sen Jen Batis) is a powerful, rum-drinking divinity who is propitiated with bonbons and bottles of alcohol. At the village of Trou-du-Nord, not far from the Citadel, the night air was dirty like a smoked ceiling and eerie with the barking of dogs. Around the parish church of St John the candles and the swaying, crowded bodies suggested a Mexican Day of the Dead.
Crowds stood around the edge of the Vodou temple made of woven palm-thatch; they paid me no mind. The mambo (priestess) was sweating and jiggering her shoulder like an epileptic, her hands loaded with masonic rings and bangles. The drummers, bashing furiously, looked similarly possessed. A peaceable religion, Vodou is derived from the rites and beliefs brought to Haiti by African slaves in the 1600s. It is as old as Christianity.
The main town on Haiti’s south coast, Jacmel, is a glory. Steamships used to sail there every month from Southampton, exchanging tweeds for coffee. Today the coffee exporters’ houses with their wonky verandas recall the French quarter of New Orleans. The Hotel Florita, off Rue du Commerce, is a beautifully restored 1880s town house with teak floors and overhead fans that used to belong to the American poet and art collector Seldon Rodman. From the Florita you can travel by horse or minibus up to the bassin bleu – blue pool – along a beautiful, jungle-like trail in the hills. The waters of the bassin, a series of amazing blue-green natural aquifers, are deliciously cool on sun-heated skin. I stripped down to my underpants and dived in. With the vault of bright blue sky above, I was in heaven.
The streets of Haiti Back in Port-au-Prince, I made a beeline for the Hotel Oloffson, a magnificent gingerbread mansion made famous by Graham Greene in his Haitian novel The Comedians. Illuminated at night, the hotel was a folly of spires and fretwork. Hurricane lamps flickered yellow, showing white rattan furniture. I had not seen the manager, Richard Morse, since I proposed marriage here in 1990 (I went down on two knees to Laura after a burst of gunfire startled me).
“Ian, it’s been too long,” said Richard, laconic as ever. Not only had he kept the Oloffson open all these years, but he fronts a world-class Vodou rock band, named RAM after his initials. The band played so well that Thursday night in the hotel that I thought I would levitate out of my seat. Past guests have included Noël Coward, John Gielgud, Marlon Brando and Mick Jagger (who wrote Emotional Rescue there). Laughably, a room had been named after me as the author of Bonjour Blanc.
By day, Port-au-Prince is a study in bedlam. The roads are crammed with buses known as tap-taps from the noise of their vintage engines; painted with psychedelic flamingos and palm trees, they list perilously and belch smoke. The Iron Market, a block of bargaining and bawling, is a great arched structure in vibrant reds and greens, with minaret-domes that might have come from India. It is the best place to buy fantastic Haitian paintings, raffia bags, globular straw baskets or Ali Baba jars. I bought a chromolithograph of my birthday divinity St John and a bottle of Haitian Barbancourt rum (five-star), pure ambrosia. Tired and in need of a drink, I headed for the magnificent National Pantheon Museum, a sleek underground structure across the road from the razed National Palace. Inside was a display of rusted iron manacles, chains, branding irons, muzzles and other implements of slavery, along with portraits of the Haitian national heroes Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Forged in the crucible of French colonialism, Haiti was once the most profitable slave colony the world had ever known.
After a week in Haiti my time had almost run out, and I felt the same emotion as 10 years ago, a mix of impatience for home and regret at leaving. Haiti is one of the most astonishing places – a west Africa in the Caribbean. I found a courage and humour in the face of desperate odds that was like an intoxication of hope. Change cannot come too soon; I can’t wait to go back.
Ian Thomson’s 'Bonjour Blanc: A Journey Through Haiti’ is published by Vintage in a new and revised edition.
When to go December to March are coolest. Carnival is held each February after Shrove Tuesday to mark the start of Lent. It is Haiti’s biggest party and, for me, the best time to go. The Carnival of the Flowers takes place in late July.
Flying time and difference
Eleven hours; GMT minus 5 hrs.
Getting there
American Airlines (020 7365 0777; americanairlines.co.uk), British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) and Delta Air Lines (0871 221 1222;delta.com) fly via New York and Miami. Air France (0870 142 4343;airfrance.co.uk) and Air Caraïbes (aircaraibes.com) fly via Paris and Guadeloupe. The other option is to fly to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. From there it is a two-hour road transfer to Santo Domingo, then a 40-minute flight on Sunrise Airways (sunriseairways.net). Packages
G Adventures (0844 272 0000; gadventures.co.uk) has just launched its Haiti programme and Undiscovered Destinations (0191 296 2674;undiscovered-destinations.com) also has trips organised. Wild Frontiers (020 7736 3968; wildfrontierstravel.com) has two tours scheduled for 2015, on sale from September, while Exodus (0845 287 7658;exodus.co.uk) plans to introduce a Discovery trip to Haiti next year. For details of other tour operators, visit experiencehaiti.org .
The best hotels of a budget Hotel Oloffson ££
This truly magnificent, historic gingerbread hotel in Port-au-Prince is where the more adventurous stay. Thursday night is music night and well worth attending. Service can be a bit haphazard but what you lose in convenience you gain in atmosphere. Rooms from $100/£59, suites from $200/£118 (3810 4000; hoteloloffson.com). NH Haiti El Rancho ££
Art deco folly that used to be a favourite with Richard Burton and the New York crooner Harry Belafonte, with splashing fountains and Italianate marble floors. Partially rebuilt after the earthquake but still lovely. Rooms from $120/£71 (0034 91 398 46 61; nh-hotels.com). The best luxury hotels
The Karibe Hotel (2812 7000; karibehotel.com), Best Western (2814 2222; bestwesternpremierhaiti.com) and Royal Oasis by Occidental (royaloasishotel.com) all offer more luxurious if somewhat bland accommodation. Rooms from $160 (£94).
The best restaurants
Le Plaza Hotel £
Has an excellent Creole buffet every Wednesday lunchtime, and a barbecue buffet on Sunday evenings, accompanied by a Haitian twoubadou (countryside troubadour) band with drums, maracas and guitars (10 Rue Capois, Port-au-Prince; 3701 9303/2940 9800;plazahaiti.com).
Hotel Oloffson ££
Its lovely veranda restaurant is still one of the best places for breakfast in Port-au-Prince (60 Avenue Christophe; details above).
Le Quartier Latin £££
Atmospheric, bourgeois-bohême gourmet restaurant and nightclub with live salsa and meringue (10 Rue Goulard, Place Boyer, Pétion-Ville; 3460 3326/3445 3325; email: brasserieql@gmail.com).
The village of Croix-de-Bouquets, eight miles outside Port-au-Prince, is a must for carved iron sculptures of Vodou divinities and other art pieces. The Galerie Nader on Rue Grégoire in Pétion-Ville has superb Haitian fine art for sale.
Always carry American $1 notes, the preferred currency, for bottles of water, tips, snacks and taxis.
Regardless of your colour or race, you will be amicably addressed as “blanc”, which in Haitian Creole means “foreigner” as well as “white”.
Never dole out gifts of sweets or chewing gum, as this creates resentments locally and puts street vendors out of business.
The popular beach resorts are on the Arcadins Coast, 45 minutes north of Port-au-Prince. In Cap-Haïtien, Labadie beach is famous as a cruise ship destination. The Cormier Plage Resort hotel (cormierhait.com) outside Cap has a lovely private beach, a silver strand by moonlight.
The local currency is the Haitian gourde. HTG77 = £1. Most travellers use US dollars. HTG45 = $1.
No visa is required. Immunisations against diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis A and typhoid are strongly recommended. The oral cholera vaccine Dukoral is sometimes suggested depending on where in Haiti you are going. Anti-malaria prophylaxis is essential.
Further information
See experiencehaiti.org. The Bradt Travel Guide to Haiti by Paul Clammer is strongly recommended. My own hybrid of history and adventure, Bonjour Blanc: A Journey Through Haiti (Vintage), is still the only major modern travelogue about Haiti.

American Airlines next stop: Cap-Haïtien, Haiti

Haiti’s historical mecca is expanding to the world.
After a modified 757 transporting then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in October 2012 became the first large aircraft to touch down on its runway in decades, Cap-Haïtien will soon welcome similarly sized jets at its newly expanded and transformed international airport.
American Airlines began selling tickets on Sunday for daily nonstop service from Miami, starting Oct. 2, making it the first major airline to add Haiti’s second largest city to one of its routes.
“This is a big deal,” said Art Torno, American’s senior vice president of its operations in Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America. “That area of the country has about 35 percent of the population, and has always been a desirable place for us.”
Torno estimates that between 30 and 35 percent of American’s Haiti-bound passengers traveling from JFK in New York, Miami International and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airports currently head north after landing at Toussaint L’Overture International Airport in Port-au-Prince.
Expanding operations outside of the Haitian capital, he said, is not just good for business, it also benefits Haiti’s tourism, currently undergoing an overhaul.
“From a location standpoint, it’s just absolutely perfect to serve that part of the population,” Torno said of the area, which includes Royal Caribbean’s private beach in Labadee and a post-earthquake $300 million U.S.-backed industrial park. “There is a large drive to develop infrastructure there. It’s important for the country; having spent so much time in Port-au-Prince this is another opportunity for economic development in the country, and that will take some pressure off the capital.”
Clinton and her husband, former President and U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton, visited the area in October 2012, landing within minutes of each other on a newly asphalted 7,500-foot runway, to attend the industrial park’s opening. Their arrival was as much about promoting economic development for the area, as it was about tourism.
“This is an important step toward Haiti’s continued economic growth,” the former president, who had long pushed for a modern airport in the region, told the Miami Herald. “Investors will now be able to easily access industrial parks and a growing number of small businesses in and around Cap-Haïtien, and tourists will be able to visit important World Heritage sites.”
Maryse Pénette Kedar, a former tourism secretary of state who is president of Royal Caribbean’s Haitian subsidiary, also sees American’s expansion as “a major development.”
“This is great news for the northern region, for the people, the diaspora and the business community,” she said. “It is a gate opener and I am happy this is finally happening.”
American Airline’s entry into northern Haiti and the airport’s modernization comes as Haiti pushes to change its tarnished tourism image. Marketing the volatile country as a destination of choice for travelers has been a key focus of President Michel Martelly’s administration. For instance on Sunday, the singer-turned-president hosted the country’s second carnival — the Carnival of Flowers — this year, in the Champ de Mars in Port-au-Prince.
While critics say the impoverished nation, which can’t pay its judges and civil servants, shouldn’t be wasting its meager resources on partying, Martelly said the festivities are a chance to sell a better image of Haiti and attract tourists.
So, too, is the airport in Cap-Haïtien, said Haiti’s Tourism Minister Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin .
The airport, she said, will serve as an international gateway to not only remote pockets of cascading waterfalls and pristine beaches, but also to the monuments telling the story of Haiti’s birth.
“The historical town of Cap-Haïtien, the Citadelle, the biggest fortress of the Americas, and the Palais Sans-Souci, will be less than two hours away from the United States,” said Villedrouin, who this week is set to sign another tourism-related project for the north with Carnival Cruise Lines. “This airport will welcome thousands of visitors looking for a history experience.”
Preparing the airport to handle increased flights, international security protocols and night time landings and takeoffs has itself been an international effort. While financing has come from Venezuela, the U.S. government has provided some security equipment through its law enforcement program, and technical help on security standards from the Transportation Security Administration. American Airlines, which was approached by the Haitian government to fly to Cap-Haïtien, also is stepping in with temporary terminals and other technical help, Torno said.
“We were also asked to partner with the government in terms of planning and execution of the terminal,” Torno said. “It really has come along very nicely.” The airport’s modernization and expansion almost never happened. While work on its perimeter fence started in 2008, former President René Préval landed in hot water in January 2010 with donors for taking out a $33 million loan from the Venezuela Economic and Social Development Bank to modernize the airport, and fund power plants in Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtien and Gonaives. In exchange for debt relief from donors, Haiti had agreed to not seek unapproved borrowing.
Nearly five years after Haiti’s tragic Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, the issue is now a moot point as tourism becomes a key focus of the country’s reconstruction. Hundreds of hotel rooms have been added in the capital, and internationally recognized hotel brands are either operating or being built. The Toussaint L’Overture International Airport, severely damaged in the quake, has undergone a facelift and more airport modernization is in the works around the country. The Cap Haïtien aiport is now called the Hugo Chávez International Airport, after Haiti’s government last year announced the name change, citing the late Venezuelan leader’s support.
Still, making Haiti a tourism destination will take time.
Tourism arrivals were up nearly 18 percent last year, but hoteliers in the capital still complain of empty hotel rooms even as rates drastically drop. Equally disconcerting for Haiti travelers are airline-ticket prices.
“Sometimes, it’s cheaper to take a flight from New York to Paris than from Miami to Port-au-Prince,” said Nicola Bussenius, owner of the 42-room Mont Joli hotel in Cap-Haïtien. “American Airlines coming will give the place the extra credibility. But they can’t come in selling $500 and $600 tickets.”
Bussenius said he would like to see American Airlines drop ticket prices to help spur tourism, but ticket prices shouldn’t be so low that they put smaller carriers that have long operated flights to South Florida, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic out of business. Torno said pricing is based on market pressures.
“Pricing in every market is dictated by the local conditions,” he said. “When you take a look at the geography, there are some markets that are priced differently in a similar geographic zone due to factors.”
Ticket prices started at $193 per person for a one way economy seat, or $583 for business class.

dimanche 27 juillet 2014

Le FOOTBALL … ce JEU de HASARD qui paralyse le monde !

Pendant cette Coupe du monde je suis enfin arrivée à faire le constat que je ne suis pas un vrai fan de football.
Pourtant je prends un plaisir énorme à jouer au foot avec mes amis.
Pendant de longues années je m'étais abonné à Canal Plus juste pour les matchs du dimanche soir et les soirées « Ligue des Champions ».
Devant des affiches alléchantes du style Milan AC versus Real Madrid, je m'installais devant ma chaîne de télé après avoir préparé un bon petit cocktail. Le résultat était toujours le même et quelque peu décevant.
Je m'endormais tandis que les glaçons de mon cocktail fondaient et faisaient déborder mon verre.
Ce fut en ce temps là que j'ai compris que la meilleure façon de retrouver le sommeil c'était de se placer devant un match de football.
Pourtant pendant l'effervescence de cette Coupe du monde il est impossible de ne pas avoir quelque chose à dire sur ce sport, ce jeu de hasard qui paralyse toute la terre.
Mais justement, il m'a suffit de penser à écrire quelque chose sur le football pour introduire des controverses, des sujets de débats, chaque mot pouvant être contesté.
Le football est-il un jeu?
Un jeu pris trop au sérieux ou plus qu'un jeu?
Comment voir un jeu dans ce sport lors de certaines compétitions l'importance sociale et l'impact politique que peuvent endosser certaines confrontations et leurs résultats?
Des centaines d'exemples remplissent les annales de l'histoire du sport roi. Et ces situations ne sauraient servir à considérer le football comme un simple jeu.
Nous ferons mention, pieds joints de ces horreurs qui reposent ensevelis sous les manteaux épais et peu transparents comme ces désastres humains provoqués ou déclenchés par un match de football.
Qui se rappelle encore de la guerre de cent heures mettant aux prises le Salvador et le Honduras dans une confrontation ayant fait 13.000 morts, le tout déclenché après un match pour la qualification à la coupe du monde de 1970?
Que dire des magouilles consenties et acceptées par les instances de la Fifa, lors de certaines coupes du monde organisées dans des pays avec des régimes totalitaires critiqués et critiquables?
Et cette coupe remportée par l'argentine en argentine sous le régime de Videla?
Je parlerai plutôt de ces situations qui poussent à rire comme on rit des choses que l'on ne veut plus comprendre.
- Un président français qui compte sur les résultats de l'équipe nationale pour remonter sa côte de popularité
- Le sursis tacite qu’obtient le gouvernement haïtien en matière de crise politique montée avec l'attention de tout le pays tournée vers la Coupe du monde dans une ambiance de polémique entre pro argentins et pro brésiliens.
- La crise politique en Ukraine qui aurait pu être évitée si la sélection nationale avait pu arracher sa qualification contre La France. Alors jeu ou pas jeu?
Quelle serait la part du hasard dans le football?
Probablement indéchiffrable, incalculable.
Pour des puristes il sera carrément inexistant.
J'ai pu faire certains constats aussi en écoutant ces ex entraîneurs et ex footballeurs reconvertis dans une nouvelle vie comme spécialistes et experts pour des médias.
Ces gens essaient de rationaliser une activité humaine truffée de circonstances et de facteurs imprévisibles.
A les entendre, le meilleur match de football serait celui qui termine sur un score nul et vierge.
Les attaquants auraient certes bien attaqué mais les défenseurs auraient bien défendu.
Mais si les attaquants ne marquent pas, cela pourrait être dû au fait qu'ils n’ont pas bien attaqué ou que les défenseurs ont bien défendu. Un but marqué pourrait être autant le résultat d'une bonne attaque comme celui dune mauvaise défense.
Là, comme simple observateur, je tourne en rond et j’ai un peu de vertiges.
Ceci me fait penser à des situations vécues lors de certains matchs disputés entre amis.
Comme gardien de but, je me suis souvent retrouvé en "face à face" avec des attaquants qui tirent de vrais missiles dans les buts. Moi, je reçois le ballon tel un boulet de canon en pleine tronche. Je tombe, je vois des étoiles tandis que mes amis applaudissent ma prouesse.
Les experts diraient que je suis resté sur mes appuis au dernier moment, ils parleront d'arrêt réflexe quand les arguments pour justifier un déterminisme quelconque font défaut.
Moi, je sais que ma tête s’est retrouvée tout à fait par hasard sur la trajectoire du ballon et souvent ça fait mal !
J'observe souvent de façon amusée, comment les experts et les spécialistes se gourent dans des pronostics. Le cas le plus flagrant et marrant observé récemment est celui qui a mis à mal l'ensemble des commentateurs lors du match opposant l'Espagne et les Pays-Bas.
En effet, pendant le match, les envoyés spéciaux claironnaient à tue tête qu'il fallait que l'entraîneur hollandais revit sa copie car, entre autres critiques, les attaquants Van Persie et Roben jouaient à contre sens… Etc.
A la fin de la première mi-temps, les deux sélections s'étaient neutralisées sous un score nul après avoir marqué une fois.
Tous les experts donnèrent donc l'Espagne victorieuse assez facilement et sans forcer.
Le résultat on le connaît la hollande fit de l'Espagne une bouchée en lui infligeant une cinglante défaite par quatre buts d'écart.
Bien sûr, comme d'habitude, les spécialistes furent appel à des théories et formules passe-partout pour rationaliser cette défaite que l'on ne peut expliquer.
Il ne faut certes pas leur en vouloir.
Le football n'est ni une science, ni une science qui se caractériserait par son exactitude infaillible.
Certes, après avoir démontré qu'ils ne pourraient faire usage d'aucun argument solide pour défendre leurs thèses, ils diront que justement c'est là que réside toute la beauté du jeu.
D'autres diront que rien n’est écrit.
Mais on évitera toujours d'évoquer le hasard.
Si rien n'est écrit, à quoi servent ces théoriciens avec leur rhétoriques suspendues au vide et accrochées au néant pendant et après les confrontations qui demeurent les seules à pouvoir dévoiler leur vérité?
Une réponse pourrait être celle qui réduirait leur utilité à faire des bêtises et à légitimer des inepties.
Au moment où le FC Barcelone dominait le monde du foot et avec lui, la Sélection Espagnole, tout le monde devînt convaincu que la façon définitivement rêvée pour jouer au football était la manière espagnole à la sauce barcelonaise avec une incarnation parfaite du joueur idéal dans ces footballeurs espagnols. Tout chez eux fut scruté à un point tel que même leur constitution physique devint un facteur déterminant.
Les spécialistes français commencèrent à y penser sérieusement.
Et le scandale éclata au grand jour quand un participant à une réunion des instances du foot, enregistra une conversation à travers laquelle, il était question de changer leurs critères de recrutement pour se rapprocher du type espagnol.
Cela voulait dire, écarter les noirs, les costauds etc...
Le monde est aujourd'hui témoin de la fin du cycle espagnol.
Beaucoup essayeront toujours de théoriser.
La vraie conclusion qui s'impose c'est de se dire que les espagnols de cette génération ont eu du talent.
Mais déjà la saison européenne 2012-2013, avait mis à mal les hispanophiles.
En effet, le football de référence fut le modèle allemand.
Ceci, supporté par la présence de deux clubs de cette nation disputant la finale de la Ligue des champions. Des théories diverses virent aussi le jour annonçant la domination allemande pour longtemps encore.
L'histoire de ce championnat dans sa version 2013-2014, balaya encore une fois, d'un autre revers de mains toutes les théories puisque cette année dans le carré final li y eut encore trois équipes espagnoles pour une finale cent pour cent madrilène.
Il est toute fois intéressant de reconnaître les couleurs de la passion que déclenche ce sport. Il est très souvent aberrant de comprendre le comportement de certains fans.
En Haïti, les quartiers sont toilettés et décorés aux couleurs du Brésil et de l'Argentine. Les deux nations qui se partagent la hincha haïtienne. Je n'ai jamais compris comment on peut devenir et rester fan intégriste d'un groupe porteur d'un jeu qui s'inscrit dans une dynamique soutenue par les particularités individuelles et des talents « sui generi » de chaque joueur.
Le Brésil de Pelé, ne ressemble pas au Brésil de Ronaldo.
Il m'est incompréhensible de sympathiser en me basant sur un palmarès, sur une histoire.
Mais un palmarès peut inspirer le respect, mais si on n'y reste trop accroché on devient vite dépassé.
Les sélections suivant les générations de joueurs ne se ressemblent pas. Il m'est impossible de laisser le côté évolutif du jeu pour m'accrocher au côté historique.
Il faut être fan pour comprendre.
Les fans aiment d'amour leurs clubs, leurs sélections.
Comme une mère aime son fils, comme un être humain aime un autre être humain.
Comme moi j'aime l'IDDMC
Il faut vite que je m’arrête de penser et d’écrire sur le football au risque de devenir fan de foot !
Juin 2014
NOTE : Ce texte je l’ai écrit dans les salles d’attente d’un aéroport avant d’embarquer pour les USA. J’avais été inspiré par les commentaires qu’avait déclenchés la première sortie de la sélection brésilienne. J’ai été surtout frappé par le contre-pied utilisé par des fans du Brésil pour ne pas reconnaître ouvertement la faiblesse de cette sélection.
J’avais en tête les réflexions d’un très bon ami, un type qui est sans aucun doute doté d’une intelligence bien au-dessus de la moyenne, qui s’était laissé emporter par la ferveur de sa sympathie aveugle pour la sélection brésilienne pour me faire croire que son équipe avait très bien joué. Bien entendu on était loin de penser à la débâcle à venir…
Donc un texte qui ne veut ni faire école ni déchaîner des débats à n’en plus finir.
Ce fut juste pour passer le temps avant de rater mon vol !