Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Front Porch of the Hotel Oloffson

To Richard Morse, Advisor to President Martelly of Haiti
From Elizabeth Roebling, Regent to the Queen of Quiskeya

Just to report that there are now a 2 million Haitians here in the Dominican Republic. Add to those numbers about 15% of the Dominican population which has no papers – some , many of Dominican Haitian descent. So this numbers more than 10% of the population on this island. Who have no state papers

Therefore, we are going to offer them all temporary papers under the Fundacion Zile, run by Edwin Paraison, so that they can be Quiskeyans. Or, Kikans, if you will

We have decided to be ruled by a queen who will be elected by the children and the dogs 

(I have been lobbying for the dogs to have two votes but the cats have very rightly point out that then should have three—this seems just to me since there are so very few cats here. Most have been eaten. But this is just to show you that there are election problems all over. However, we have found out now that both the dogs and the Haitians here are psychic  as are we... so things should move on a lot faster now)

The grandmothers will chose the chieftans

We are declaring the waters surrounding this sacred island as a Marine Sanctuary

And are hereby banning spear fishing

I ask for your personal assistance in this matter.
      We may be hungry but we are not stupid. Our coral reefs are our main tourist attraction. No more coral jewelry. No more spear fishing

I do hope that you will make some sort of very public announcement on this -- something cool at Cayman Bois with the conch...

and that you will come visit me at my beach place in Las Terrenas, Samana which is on the front (or hind) flipper of the Great Turtle,

I would also love to see some very high end beach towels made here at the ONLY certified sweat shop free CERTIFIED factory in the world - at Altagracia.. A map that shows the ENTIRE ISLAND ARCHIPELAGO,please. since we only have maps of our side of the island.. may have to take to small boats for outlying islands and make camps over there with y'all.

My happiest memories are from your front porch
Kembe la


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Save that Tree

Las Terreanas is now the chic destination beach town here on the Samana Peninsula. It is on the Atlantic coast –just on the far side of the left front flipper of the Turtle.

We have carved turtles here, made from Guayacanes wood, lingam vitae. Everyone should have one as we are learning that if you have a problem, you  simply tell it to your turtle, who then works on it for you overnight and delivers the solution to you in your dreams. They are the closest thing we have to a map of the entire island for each of the two countries here only draw maps of their own portion of the island. Only the Turtle tells the entire story. 

The building here, the sheer mass of concrete that has been placed on the fragile soil, threatens to break the entire flipper. The main village has been constructed over the last twenty years by filling in the swamp, a small portion of which remains. If the foreigners have their way, the entire place will look like Miami Beach in ten years and there will be no wild beauty left to enjoy.

Lots and condos and villas are being sold now over the internet, in Euros and dollars, via hot mail France, and gmail Italy.

Sitting in the garden of the little apartment complex near the beach, one of the few places near the beach which is still owned by Dominicans, I overhear an Italian who has just come roaring in on his motor cycle, asking the custodian if there are any lots for sale? What about the one next door?

This lot is a small nest of palm trees, enclosed by a perfectly built stone wall . These walls, I call them Haitian walls as they are Haitian built, are made of local rock, with hardly any concrete and are as beautiful as the old stone walls of New England. There is no room to build a building on this lot  without cutting down palm trees. Already there is a concrete barrier and a chain link fence right through the middle of the palm grove.

I go over to the Italian and explain that he should be aware that the palm trees are protected here. It is illegal to cut down a palm tree.

There is one blind Dominican who sells pure coconut oil and chunks of hearts of palm in one of the chic shopping centers. I think it is alright to allow an exemption for this blind man but my American friend insists that the law is the law. She has convinced me. I feel guilty about the bottle of coconut oil that I bought from him and vow not to do so again even though coconut oil has been the only thing that appears to save my leather shoes.We struggle here to help make this a land of respect for the law.

The Italian, a rugged man in his forties, wearing camo army pants,  takes his hands from the handlebars of his bike and starts making machete chops.  It is almost impossible for Italians to speak without using their hands.

“Ah, I cut the palms, and then I eat their hearts!” he says. “Where are you from?”

“From New York City and Santo Domingo.”

“In New York, there are no palm trees.”

“No, indeed. We saw what happens when the Europeans arrive.”

“In Las Galeras (a smaller European town on the tip of the flipper), I cut down whatever trees I like.”

“You may do what you like in Las Galeras for the moment, but here in Las Terrenas, the palm trees are protected. I will tie myself to the palm tree so that you will have to kill me first.”

He smiles.

“I love you”, he says in English.

“I love you, too” I answer.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dominican Republic: IOM Helps Haitians Return Home


Dieudonne Braveus and I had a meeting today with the directors of the International Office of Migration this morning. They have said they will COME to Las Terrenas early next month to do an assessment and will undertake to relocate one thousand Haitians from there back to Haiti.

I cannot express my relief and gratitude. This organization has such weight and force, such competent people. I know that it will not take care of all of the 3 to 5,000 Haitians who are in Las Terrenas - but we will keep looking for other help so that all the Haitians who wish to return to Haiti may do so.

This is the lifting of seven years of a heavy concern from my shoulders,

It is true that there is no money for us to keep the project going yet, to keep Dieudonne on any sort of salary or give food aid to the many Haitians there who are at the point of hunger... but it is SUCH a great help - to know that there is help on the way,

We stopped on the way home and I bought groceries and a new pair of shoes for Dieudonne.

Hopefully, by next month, he will be able to buy his own food.

I am so grateful.