Inside Little Haiti

From an island in the sea to an island in the heart of Miami

The day I left Miami to return to my home in Tallahassee, a cold front had moved through the city. The skies were clear and fresh, invigorating, and that afternoon I returned to the grounds of Notre Dame d'Haiti. The church was sponsoring a weekend fair to celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday. I walked about under the canopy of live oak trees, scrutinizing the amusement park rides, becoming increasingly aware of their surrealism, which seemed to create a rather heavy-handed allegory of Haiti's history, the betrayal and treachery reconstructed within a carnival.

Here were the games of chance, the players trying their luck.
Here, where the shrieking came from, was the Ring of Fire.
On the edge of the festivities was the Sea Dragon, violently rocking its human cargo back and forth. Money fell out of pockets; vomit splattered down.

And here, for the preschoolers, were the Venice Boats, filled with little girls in their Sunday dresses, their hair in pigtails and adorned with pressed ribbons. The children were waving, the mothers were waving back. The boats went round and round, from the children came carefree bursts of laughter, and the mothers sighed with maternal contentment, and at the end of the ride, everyone was still together, no onewas locked up and no one was dead.

But this is not yet a happy ending.

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