We didn’t do much touristy stuff—a trip to the Vatican for Sunday mass, a stroll through Trastevere, a nighttime walking tour of the major touristy sites (Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona), shopping on via del Corso and a visit to the Colosseum. One night we had dinner at Tram Tram in SanLo,
another night dinner and drinks at Etabli; but other than that we stayed home. My aunt is the typical Haitian mother and insisted on cooking three elaborate meals every day instead of "wasting money" by eating out— great for me considering that I was wiped out from my Amsterdam trip. So we spent most of the time in my kitchen, sitting at the table drinking wine & prosecco, eating and talking.
At one point, my aunt decided to cure me of my single status by teaching me how to cook (which is of course is the indicator of whether or not a woman is ready for marriage, lol).
She taught me how to make pork chops, rice & peas and potatoes (in lieu of plantains) and it turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself, especially since it was my first shot at cooking something other than spaghetti.
When they left on Tuesday morning I was really sad to see them go. Being so far away I often miss my family so it was nice to have a little slice of home with me, even for a few days. Plus I haven’t laughed so hard in a long while.
For the record I must say (I'm a bit biased but so what): I think Haitians are hands down the best storytellers ever. I don’t know if it’s due to growing up in a country where most people don’t have regular access to other forms of entertainment (TV, movies, etc), but no one can tell a story quite like a Haitian can— the kind of story that has you on the edge of your seat, eager for more. Its the intonation of their voice, the colorfully outrageous choice of words used to describe the simplest things, the facial expressions, gestures, dancing and full out Oscar-worthy acting that leave you with tears running down your face, gasping for breath. Sadly I wasn’t blessed with the storytelling gene but I've been lucky to have been around it my entire life.
Though my parents came to America when they were teenagers and I had a very typical suburban American upbringing, our family was always intrinsically Haitian (much to my chagrin when, as a kid, I just wanted to be like everyone else). I remember lying in bed with my grandparents and my mother every Sunday morning, listening to them “by blag” (telling funny stories, the level of truth varying widely). And even though I could barely understand their grownup talk at that young age, I laughed right along—it was better than any sitcom I’d ever seen. I remember holidays and parties when all my aunts and uncles would get together, the shrieking laughter that would go on all night, and my cousins and I, the American-born kids, begging our parents to keep their voices down as we tried to watch cartoons in the next room.
These stories are meant to serve as warnings, teach lessons, share family histories, gossip about things going on “back home”, reminisce about the good old days, and sometimes just plain entertain. Translated into English it would lose its magic. Its a beautifully rich culture with wonderful old traditions and though I haven't been to Haiti in many years, its such a part of me. Its something I want my children to experience but considering my fabulous way with languages it probably won’t be me who teaches them :)
So it was in that world that I spent the past 4 days. The fun we had! It still makes me smile to think of it.