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28034: Labrom: (comment) re 28026 Jacmel Carnival (fwd)

From Jacqui Labrom

I took a group again to Jacmel carnival, although that almost got scuppered
because MINUSTAH gave the order on the Wednesday before the Friday we were
going that NO MINUSTAH employees could go to Jacmel Carnival!!! Considering
I had 15 MINUSTAH out of 20 of the group it was a bit of a blow. But being
an optimist I decided to hold my breath and pray hard that they would change
their mind, and sure enough at 11am on Friday (we were due to leave at 3pm
that same day!) they allowed them to go. Phew, talk about stress!

WE had a good time. But we noticed that arrangements like stands etc were
not very advanced when we got there on the Friday evening. But by Saturday
things were well and truly underway.

My group enjoyed themselves, but myself, having taken groups 5 years
following, there were two main problems which we had not encountered before.

One was that the parade did not start officially until 2pm - in other words
the Head of the Tourist Assn. and the main tourist lady - Michelle Craan,
did not walk up Ave Baranquilla formally to the tourism stand until 2pm.
Normally (and unusually in Haiti) they start 12 midday pil !! But this time
the officials didn't go until 2pm and then the parade was only just really
starting at 4pm - which was when my group (who have to be back to work early
Monday am) was leaving at 4.30pm it was only then that the parade was really
starting. (I found out afterwards that it was because the Mayor's Dept. had
not yet paid them and so the acts refused to go on the parade!! I in my
naivete didn't even know they got paid!!) OK there were some groups and
there was a great ambiance and lots and lots of people and my group enjoyed
themselves. But I noticed the difference in the lack of the parade.

The second thing which was much more negative was that there was a REAL
problem with pickpockets. I had 2 people in my group who had things stolen
out of their pockets as we walked through the crowd. One guy lost his
passport and both lost money. Another had her bag cut but fortunately it
didn't get right through. Then a woman I know from OAS had her bag cut and
lost all her money, another had her bag cut and lost all her identity stuff,
electoral card included as well as car keys!! So it was a major problem this
year. When I complained to one of the officials of the Tourism assn. she
said oh it happens every year - a band of vagabonds come down from PauP and
do this!! Well it had never happened to my group before, so now I will have
to make sure we warn people. A Haitian guy told a friend of mine what the
guys can do is put shorts or swimming shorts on with your money and
valuables in the pockets and then put your ordinary trousers on on top - so
the pickpockets can't get right into your valuable stuff - I guess for the
women, it will be stuffing your money in your bra!!!

Having said that, the acts that we did see were lovely - always there are
new ones and there were some beautiful girls with multicolored dresses who
were dancing. They were really colorful. Plus some Chinese looking outfits!!

I have to give a big pat on the back to Patrick Boucard -man, that guy does
wonders for Jacmel tourism and the Jacmeliennes!  He put on an Art
Exhibition and then organized for my group plus other friends a special
evening's entertainment with a Rhum punch plus a parade and dance of Masked
animals and all kinds of other things and then he put on a wonderful BBQ
dinner - he got it catered - which is incredible as this is difficult to do
in Jacmel. Everyone who came had a wonderful time - he had 2 different
musical groups too, so it was a great evening and made the Carnival weekend
all the more impressive.

Jacqui Labrom
email: voyageslumiere@haitelonline.com

Tel.(00 509) 249-6177/557-0753 (cell)
website: www.voyagelumierehaiti.com