When it’s carnival in Haiti, women, in red, in blue, in beige, in yellow, in white, in black, in pink, and other colors, and men, in mostly black, white, beige, shirts, and blue jeans, walk amongst an intended massification of women and men, infatuated with sprawl, symbols of what will have been an ideal to all. It’s decibels after decibels in space decorated with colorful signs that are ads, stands; tradition. Trucks with stands attached to them pass by with the main events, bands chosen by the Mayor as official groups. Alcohol makes the entire thing more like ballet than anything else, the sort of choreography and improvisation that can even lead to death.
With a white card, she payed 475 one way and 235 the other to attend the carnival. The hotel room was at 125 a night, so 250, plus taxes, and other charges: 321. The money spent was budgeted as entertainment, but was also for philosophy. She, 31, decided, on the second night, while standing on her hotel room’s balcony, that she cares to satisfy her muscles much more than she ever will her mind. She also did not care to be right or wrong this time. In another country, far from the townhouse she shared with 3 friends, Annabelle had, thankfully, let herself fall.
It was a weighty list, of a few bullet points, at first, but it quickly became unimportant. On that list, night was first to impose its rule on her, even cause her to shiver, to which she responded with incertitude. Her plane had landed on the airport’s tarmac during the day, and between the hagglers, the courteous ads, sunlight, and the tones to their language, she assumed that this was the sort of place that was easy to get along with others in.
But once dark black begin to fill her petri dish, she had met Port-au-Prince, in all its old-world majesty. What sort of capital city had no electricity or running water for most of the folks who lived it 213 years after an independence? What’s worse is that they all had a flare to their walk as she drove by, on her way to meet Claire, a friend who have moved to Haiti to teach: a petulant city smoking, drinking, hurting, kidding.
It was the most beautiful music. It’s because of that red butterfly that she made it to the inside of the cave. On the morning before the carnival, she decided to follow a butterfly, for no plain reason. It seemed to be the sort of thing that Haitians did, in light garment. She decided to participate standing on that mountain, where pig was being fried by a woman in old oil.
She saw the butterfly, as she stood with a cola in hand. She skipped after the butterfly, not laughing, and then began to run as it ran away. She had a cell phone on hand, it was fine. 22 curious individuals later and she was at the bottom of a mountain, entering a cave that would surprise her with its depth.
She, 31, passed out after a minute in the cave. The minute that she did, she began to dream: of a man with a cane in hand, who laughed when it seemed like she was scared.
Legba nan barye a
She dreamed of women singing “legba nan barye a,” first, before she dreamed of herself in dance, dancing as Richard, from New York, spoke to her. She dreamed of Richard and herself, and she felt it hurt. It was pain.
Then it ended, when she could no more. She could see the butterfly, the same one, and she followed it down a barren field, to nowhere really. Nothing was important, other than her whimsy, as she found herself on a barren field.
At carnival, she would stand right next to Claire and just dance along. She saw a man look at her, creolely, with his comme il faut cigarette in hand and she smiled back but nothing would happen between them she instantly decided. She wanted to be courted, like Claire and her friends. That same man was nowhere to be found once Claire hugged her from behind and told her that she had found happiness.
She forgot about the poverty that she immediately saw and had read so much about, as if she and they, us, where part of a sprawl meant for the pursuit of bodily pleasure and mental peace. She did not speak much when she was there, but she learned to not speak in statistics and to sit, sigh, sing, and attend.
In the cave, 31, the woman, herself, in her dream feeling the heights of whimsy, began to listen to a song that she would remember the harmonies of:
Ou se van
Wa pousen ale
Nou se papiyon
Na pote nouvel
Bay lwa yo
It was the beach that she loved. She felt like ruins when she sat next to Claire. When they took the light at Andre’s house and they had to wait on more gas to add to the generator, she too sat next to a candle, with a beer in hand.