Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Traditions & Customs in Haiti

North AmericaHaitiTraditions & Customs in Haiti

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One thing a missionary or other visitor to Haiti learns very quickly is that Haitians are a very dignified people; they have their pride, despite everything they have been through. There are a few beggars and peddlers in the cities, but they are the exception, not the rule. Don’t expect them to bend over backwards. Impoverished Haitians will always accept gifts, but they will almost always stand up straight, look you in the eye and thank you with a sincere “mesi” (thank you).

Haiti is a nation with quite conservative standards. It is advisable to dress modestly when exploring the cities of Haiti, especially for women. The intelligent visitor should look people in the eye, greet them and treat them with friendship and respect, as equals, even if their living conditions seem poor or desperate.

Try to learn some basic Haitian-Creole words.

Ask permission before taking photos of people (money is often demanded). Never walk around holding your camera in people’s faces or take photos indiscriminately. Don’t just take photos of the mountains of rubbish you see in some of the big cities (like Cap-Haitien or Port-au-Prince), or of anything Haitians are not proud of, because that is offensive. On the other hand, people have no problem with foreigners taking pictures of beautiful landscapes, cultural events or historical sites.

Take a few water bottles in your bags for the children who will be carrying your luggage, shining your shoes or tap-dancing at the airport (but beware of pickpockets).

Sometimes visitors go around Haiti handing out sweets or banknotes. While many people, especially children, will accept your offer, this practice is offensive to most people because it violates the dignity of Haitians. Take an extra bottle of water and some food to share with your driver, guide or interpreter.

Be patient, because nothing happens quickly in Haiti. Most people will find your whining amusing at best and seriously offensive at worst.

Take some photos of the area where you live, your workplace or your family to share with your friends. These are the things that will turn you from a mere tourist into a real person. In most cases, people will reciprocate and you may even make a friend.

Your feelings are real. It is normal to feel overwhelmed if you have never experienced this kind of cultural difference. If you are easily affected by signs of poverty, Haiti is not for you. Be polite but not pushy. It is normal to ask questions of the locals. Remember that you are a guest in their country. Do not expect to be treated like a king or queen (although you may get some extra privileges) just because you are a foreigner. Haitians are warm and helpful people.

The inhabitants of Gonâve Island probably have less contact with Americans than Haitians in Port-au-Prince. Children shout “blan, blan, blan” when white people walk by. The children of the salt flats will be happy to walk with you, show you how to skip stones on the water, and try very hard to communicate with you. They may try to charge you for picking up a shell on the salt flats and up to $6 for a photo with their donkey. You don’t have to pay, but out of respect you should not take the photo. They are happy if you ask them if you can take their picture.

How To Travel To Haiti

By air International travellers arrive in Haiti in Port-au-Prince (PAP) at Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport or at Cap-Haitien International Airport in the north. Airline tickets can be purchased through numerous online ticket exchanges and agencies. Intra-Haitian flights are also available. Prices for these flights can fluctuate from time to time due...

How To Travel Around Haiti

By car Cars can be rented from Hertz, Avis, etc. Taxis in Haiti are usually SUVs or trucks, as most roads are long overdue for repair, in addition to the abundance of dirt roads encountered when travelling in Haiti. The price is often reasonable (e.g. 450 gourdes, or $11.53 to...

Destinations in Haiti

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Weather & Climate in Haiti

The climate in Haiti is tropical with some variations depending on altitude. The temperature in Port-au-Prince varies between an average low of 23°C and an average high of 31°C in January, and between 25 and 35°C in July. The rainfall pattern is variable, with heavier rainfall in some lowlands...

Accommodation & Hotels in Haiti

There are many guesthouses all over Haiti. However, it is quite difficult to find them abroad. Most of these guest houses cost around $25 to $35 per night and include 2 to 3 meals per day. Sometimes these houses are connected to orphanages (e.g. Saint Joseph's Home for Boys). Saint...

Food & Drinks in Haiti

Food in Haiti Haitian cuisine is typical of the Caribbean mix, a wonderful blend of French and African sensibilities. It resembles that of its Spanish Caribbean neighbours, but is characterised by a strong presence of spices. Roasted goat called "kabrit", roasted pork "griot", poultry with Creole sauce "poulet créole", rice...

Things To See in Haiti

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Money & Shopping in Haiti

The Haitian gourde is the currency of Haiti. In April 2011, the exchange rate was 40.85 gourdes = 1 US dollar. Although traders are required by law to quote prices in gourdes, almost everything is quoted in "dollars" - not US dollars, but Haitian dollars, which is equivalent to...

Festivals & Holidays in Haiti

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Language & Phrasebook in Haiti

The official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole (Kreyòl Ayisien), a Creole language based on French, with 92% of its vocabulary derived from French and the rest mainly from African languages. Haitian Creole is the mother tongue of the masses, while French is the administrative language, although...

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Haiti has a unique cultural identity made up of a broad mix of traditional French and African customs, mixed with significant contributions from Spanish and indigenous Taino culture. The country's customs are essentially a blend of the cultural beliefs of the various ethnic groups that have inhabited the island...

History Of Haiti

Haiti was inhabited by the Taino Indians when Christopher Columbus landed at the St Nicolas breakwater on 5 December 1492; see The Voyages of Christopher Columbus. Columbus named the island Hispaniola. The Taino were a branch of the Arawak Indians, a peaceful tribe that was weakened by the frequent...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Haiti

Stay Safe in Haiti WARNING: In 2012, Canada advised its citizens to "exercise extreme caution" due to high crime rates and the United States warned its citizens that "the ability of local authorities to respond to emergencies is limited and non-existent in some areas" as some visitors have been assaulted,...



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