A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about le plaza hotel

Port au Prince: Marché de Fer and Atiz Rezistans

Iron Market and Craft Centre

34 °C
View Fet Gede - Haiti's Day of the Dead 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

large_Art_for_Art_s_Sake.jpg

Iron Market (Marché de Fer)

large_4527C9E9F5F8685DBD4C4877FE091BAE.jpg

As we were unable to reach this – one of Haiti's most important civic landmarks - on our last visit because of the political rallies taking place, we have set aside a morning to explore its sales halls.

Shipped over from France in 1891, the structure was originally destined for Cairo, where it was going to become a railway station; but the deal fell through so it ended up here in Port au Prince instead. No-one is quite sure why or how.

The iconic market was badly destroyed during the 2010 earthquake, but has since been rebuilt and is yet again the focus of the city's vendors.

Notorious for its overwhelming atmosphere and high-pressure aggressive salesmen, it is with some trepidation we enter the first of the two halls, which contains a number of food and everyday household items for sale.

large_Iron_Market_1.jpg

large_Iron_Market_-_Manioc.jpg
Manioc

large_Iron_Marke..n_Smasher_1.jpg
Plantain Smasher

large_Iron_Market_-_Star_Anise.jpg
Star anise

large_Iron_Marke..d_Mushrooms.jpg
Gourds and dried mushrooms

large_Iron_Market_-_Shoes.jpg
Great selection of fancy shoes

Herbal Medicine
Many locals prefer to rely on alternative medicine, and we see several stalls selling a great variety of herbal infusions.

large_Iron_Marke.._Medicine_7.jpg

large_Iron_Marke.._Medicine_6.jpg

large_Iron_Marke.._Medicine_4.jpg

large_Iron_Marke.._Medicine_1.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..l_Alcohol_1.jpg
For medicinal purposes only?

No salesmen have bothered us so far, but I guess the other hall – full of Vodou paraphernalia, artists and souvenirs, is where it is all happening as far as the tourist goes.

Here we see all sorts of 'creations' – I find the ones featuring dolls (of which there are many) - somewhat unnerving.

large_Iron_Marke..phernalia_4.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..phernalia_5.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..phernalia_7.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..phernalia_8.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..phernalia_6.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_13.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_10.jpg

Other - equally macabre - items are produced from and around human skulls. Real human skulls that is.

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_12.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_15.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_17.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_18.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_23.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_14.jpg

When the slaves were brought over from Africa, they were forbidden to practice their Vodou religion, so would disguise their art behind a veil of Catholic saints. Today the two merge into one as far as art goes.

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_25.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_20.jpg

large_Iron_Marke..hernalia_21.jpg

The bowls of turtles intrigue me, and Serge explains that they are used for rituals. The turtle is not killed, merely drained of some blood, which is mixed with rum and coffee (isn't everything over here?), and given to pregnant women to protect the foetus from evil spirits.

large_Iron_Market_-_Turtles_1.jpg

large_Iron_Marke.._Ceremonies.jpg
Candles used for ceremonies

The last part of the market is dedicated to souvenirs, and although we are approached by the stall holders and encouraged to browse their goods, they are not what I would call 'aggressive', or even particularly persistent. Perhaps this is down to the fact that Serge has spent years trying to discourage them; maybe it's because we have taken one of the stallholders as a guide, or it could be that we are just so used to it from our many travels through Africa and Asia that we just ignore it. While Haiti does not receive many tourists as such, the great number of visiting diaspora are the main buyers of these items, wanting to take a small piece of their home-land back to the US (or wherever) with them.

large_Iron_Market_-_Souvenirs_1.jpg

large_Iron_Market_-_Souvenirs_2.jpg

large_Iron_Market_-_Souvenirs_3.jpg

large_Iron_Market_-_Souvenirs_4.jpg

From the Iron Market we make our way across town to the area known as Grand Rue (Main Street) through the labyrinthine warren of back streets in neighbourhoods dedicated entirely to car scrap yards and recycling.

Atis Rezistans – the Sculptors of Grand Rue

large_Atis_Rezistans_1.jpg

It is not immediately obvious where the junk-yard ends and the art museum / gallery begins.

large_Atis_Rezistans_2.jpg

large_Atis_Rezistans_31.jpg

The artists in this tight-knit community use salvaged wood, discarded car parts and household items to create bold, radical and warped sculptures.

large_Atis_Rezistans_3.jpg
E Pluribus Unum”: out of many, one.

Compelling and whimsical, sometimes disturbing, often absurd, always extraordinary, each piece of art has a story behind it and a meaning to it, although the latter can be very elusive to the non-initiated.

large_Atis_Rezistans_7.jpg

large_Atis_Rezistans_8.jpg

This open-air gallery is crammed full of sculptures, the focus seemingly being on ghoulish representations, although I am told the symbology is based on slavery, death and rebirth, Vodou, Christianity and the occult.

large_Atis_Rezistans_16.jpg

large_Atis_Rezistans_22.jpg

Fetish, sexuality and anatomy are recurring themes in these fantastical creations reborn from discarded everyday items.

large_Atis_Rezistans_12.jpg

large_Atis_Rezistans_25.jpg

large_Atis_Rezistans_29.jpg

And of course the ever-present human skulls grinning at us as we walk past.

large_Atis_Rezistans_9.jpg

large_Atis_Rezistans_28.jpg

large_Atis_Rezistans_35.jpg

“Who buys this stuff” I ask André Eugéne – the founder of the art museum – as he invites us in to see his studio and bedroom. “It is mainly art collectors from all over the world, rarely locals” he explains. The interior of his work-and-living-space is dimly lit – by a human skull with red and green bulbs in its eye sockets. Not exactly what I would like to wake up to after a night on the rum.

large_Atis_Rezistans_33.jpg

As we are leaving, I take a fancy to a mask hanging by the exit. “Everything here is for sale” says Eugéne, but I recoil when he ask for $400. “That is way out of my reach” I explain. “How much?” asks Eugéne hopefully and I throw back an almost derisory offer of $100, which is immediately rejected for double that. I explain that this price is still way too high for me and walk away. Eugéne calls me back, money changes hands and I am now the 'proud' owner of an 'original' piece of Haitian art. More on that tomorrow.

large_Ram_Ram_20.jpg

Kids' Place – a Street Kid Project

Children between the ages of 10 and 17 are encouraged to create their own art and have been given a small shack in which to display and sell their creations.

large_Atis_Rezis..ds__Place_1.jpg

large_Atis_Rezis..ds__Place_2.jpg

large_Atis_Rezis..ds__Place_3.jpg

We - no, correction, I - buy another mask for our collection. David looks at me and shakes his head. Evidently he and I do not share the same taste in art.

large_Mask_from_..t_au_Prince.jpg

The kids are cute and love playing up for the camera.

large_Kids_at_Atis_Rezistans_1.jpg

large_Kids_at_Atis_Rezistans_2.jpg

large_Kids_at_Atis_Rezistans_3.jpg

large_Kids_at_Atis_Rezistans_4.jpg

large_Kids_at_Atis_Rezistans_5.jpg

Le Plaza Hotel – chill time

After a morning of 'culture', the 'arts' and shopping, we have some free time this afternoon. Inspired (encouragingly 'bullied') by my friend Ian to use my macro lens, I take a few close-up pictures of everyday items in the restaurant.

large_Macro_Ice_Cubes_1.jpg

large_Macro_Ice_Cubes_2.jpg
Ice cubes in my ginger ale

large_Macro_Metal_Table.jpg
The metal table

large_Macro_Salt_Pot_1.jpg
Salt Pot

large_Macro_Bubbles_1.jpg
Bubbles and condensation on my glass

Levitation Trick

The rest of the afternoon is spent in and around the swimming pool - first to create some trick photography.

large_Levitation_2N3X.jpg

large_Levitation_1.jpg

So how are these created? Quite simple really – one photo of David on a chair, and one photo of just the scene (making sure that the camera is in the identical position), then layer them in Photoshop and remove the chair. Voila!

large_Levitation..ginal_Photo.jpg

Later we fool around in the pool with my little waterproof camera, until the sun goes down and the lights come on.

large_Grete_in_the_Pool_1.jpg

large_David_in_the_Pool_7.jpg

large_Grete_under_Water_3.jpg

large_Grete___Da.._the_Pool_4.jpg

large_Grete_in_the_Pool_3.jpg

large_Grete_under_Water_1N.jpg

large_Grete___Da.._the_Pool_5.jpg

large_David_in_the_Pool_13.jpg

large_Grete_in_the_Pool_4.jpg

Dinner

After a quick shower we wander down to the restaurant for dinner. Although they do have an air-conditioned dining room, we make the most of the lovely warm evening by sitting outside in the leafy courtyard.

large_Prestige_B.._Cold_Glass.jpg
David enjoys a cold Premiere beer in a frosted glass

large_Prawn_Skew..Mango_Sauce.jpg
Prawn skewers with garlic mango sauce

large_Filet_Mign..hroom_Sauce.jpg
Filet mignon with creamy mushroom sauce

large_Plaza_Punch.jpg
I take great pleasure in a refreshing Plaza Punch after dinner, before it is time to say goodnight.

Thank you Jacqui from Voyages Lumiere for arranging this amazing trip to Haiti for us.

large_212DE153A70F3E71D38533DBCABAD027.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 03:27 Archived in Haiti Tagged art craft masks hotel market sculpture pool photography souvenirs mask swimming_pool artists haiti recycling port_au_prince vodou le_plaza le_plaza_hotel atis_rezistans sculptors scrap_yard atis_resizistans_vodou_art vodou_art iron_market marché_de_fer mask_collection 2010_earthquake fun_in_the_pool waterproof_camera levitaion_photography _levitation_trick levitation andre_eugene Comments (0)

Montrouis - Port au Prince

Here comes the rain - briedfly

rain 33 °C
View Fet Gede - Haiti's Day of the Dead 2016 on Grete Howard's travel map.

Today is very much a non-event, as David is up at 04:00 with an upset tummy. He stays in bed while I go for breakfast, the whole morning, as well as while I enjoy lunch. Only as we are checking out to travel back to Port au Prince does he surface.

large_Mango_Juice_2.jpg

large_Mango__Pin..rench_Toast.jpg
Yummy fruit and French toast for breakfast

large_Glstening_Sea_21.jpg
While David stays in the air-conditioned room feeling sorry for himself, I soak up the last of the ocean views and some sunshine.

large_Grilled_Cheese_Sandwich.jpg
Grilled cheese sandwich for lunch

I am feeling very much more alive on this journey than the one in the opposite direction a couple of days ago, and spend my time taking photos of the passing traffic which consists of overfilled tap-taps (open-sided small trucks used for passengers), hand carts, cows eating from rubbish tips, big Macks (the truck variety, not the burger), donkey carts, sleek modern buses, pedestrians and kamakazi goats dashing from one side of the road to the other through the crazy traffic!

large_Trucks_and_Buses_1.jpg

large_Trucks_and_Buses_2.jpg

large_Trucks_and_Buses_4.jpg

large_Trucks_and_Buses_7.jpg

large_Washday_in_the_River_1.jpg
It's Monday, so it must be wash day!

large_Trucks_and_Buses_9.jpg

large_Obama_Beach_Hotel.jpg
A new venture for a future ex-president?

large_Trucks_and_Buses_8.jpg

large_Trucks_and_Buses_10.jpg

David, on the other hand, is not having a good day, and is violently sick on the journey. Thankfully - and much to Pouchons' relief - I always carry a sick bag.

Rain and flooding

Half way back to the capital, we encounter the much publicised rain; and it certainly looks like they have had a LOT of it here, judging by the flooding in the streets.

large_Flooded_Banana_Market_1.jpg

large_Flooding_1.jpg

large_Flooding_2.jpg

Just a mile or so further on the rain has stopped and the roads are bone dry. Strange weather.

large_Trucks_and_Buses_11.jpg

Unlike the reverse journey, the freeway is running smoothly; but when we arrive in the capital, we hit a major traffic jam. Pouchon tries to avoid the standstill by cutting through some of the backstreets – areas with slums heavily ingrained with poverty like we've rarely seen anywhere in a capital city in the western world. Feeling very uncomfortable about taking photos (for safety and ethical reasons), I do snap a few covert pictures from inside the mini-van.

large_Backstreet..au_Prince_1.jpg

large_Backstreet..au_Prince_2.jpg

large_Backstreet..au_Prince_3.jpg

Le Plaza Hotel

Arriving back here is like coming home; and the receptionist, remembering us from last week, greets us like long lost friends.

large_Le_Plaza_Hotel_1.jpg

Samantha, our gorgeous waitress this evening, gives us a French lesson as she takes our order. Just afterwards, a heavy peal of thunder is followed by a power cut. Just as I have found the torch in my bag, the lights come back on again.

My Tassot de Boeuf (fried beef in spicy sauce) is very tasty, and I have forgotten how delicious their piclis (spicy coleslaw) is!

large_Tassot_de_..d_plantains.jpg

David takes two bites from his Poulet Pays au Noix (Haitian chicken with nuts) and immediately feels nauseous again.

large_Poulet_Pay.._with_nuts_.jpg

I order a cappuccino after dinner, but when Samantha comes back to tell me they have run out, I am 'forced' to have a piña colada. It's a hard life.

large_70485ECE060ECC276A06E10D0CAD74AE.jpg

We speak to Jacqui from Voyages Lumiere (who kindly arranged our trip to Haiti) to confirm the details of our itinerary for the next couple of days, before retiring for the night.

large_707BF623DD11C51B795DFECA34B32D39.jpg

Posted by Grete Howard 01:45 Archived in Haiti Tagged travel hotel holiday caribbean sick trucks haiti mack nausea port_au_prince voyages_lumiere le_plaza montrois le_plaza_hotel nauseous upset_tummy Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]