Sunset At The Boardwalk

After spending several nights in the city of Port-au-Prince, we packed up everything and headed to a small coastal town, Jacmel. We arrived, ate, and headed off on a walk to the beach, and my first thoughts were that Jacmel was gorgeous. The light was fading just as we reached the boardwalk. Palm trees gently waved above a portion of sidewalk that spelled out “JACMEL” in blue-on-white tiles letters. People, mostly Haitian, strolled, sat and chatted while watching the ocean, or sold straw hats and trinkets along the pink sidewalk. A group of people was setting up chairs and a freestanding projector screen for a film festival occurring over the weekend. The weather was just cooling down from a very hot day, and the mountains were clearly visible surrounding the sheltered cove. Everything was …well, normal really. In fact, the scene reminded me of Santa Cruz, a small beach town in my native California where everyone’s favorite activity seemed to be strolling along the beach and watching the waves.
After the crowded, chaotic hustle of Port-au-Prince, comparing Jacmel to a town I spent time in as a child was incongruous and bizarre. Our group reflections had previously centered around the differences between the United States and Haiti, how we might deal with unexpected changes in plans, and how to approach new situations respectfully, enthusiastically, and empathically. Yet, until now, I hadn’t considered all of the various ways that we were similar to the people of Haiti. Although I imagine that there are many differences between the daily lives of people in Jacmel and my own life, this moment highlighted that everyone here was doing the same thing: enjoying the incredible sunset. 

-Carina Gwennap, Oboe