Quick entry today – we are headed to Haiti’s once glorious Club Med, now called Club Indigo – although these days it should probably be renamed Club UNdigo. More on this later. Meantime, the tale of Jean and his shotgun develops.
Wednesday night I meandered outside at 11 pm with my gin and tonic… and here, permit me a brief ode to the true glory of this most excellent of drinks. A gin and tonic in a bar in London or New York is a pleasant tipple, but in Haiti – ah, what can one not say of its marvellous restorative powers? It is a merciful angel, floating down from on high upon gossamer wings. A ministering Teresa.
The suffocating afternoon heat mounts to an angry irritated crescendo, crying babies, and electricity blackouts. A sputtering fan makes decreasing impact upon the cloying haze, but then – oh joy – sunset finally brings its climactic release, the temperature drops, and it’s gin and tonic time.
I quaff its dulcet tones with reverence, and world peace is restored. The universe is in harmony. Gawd bless the G&T.
Anyhow, such alcoholic ramblings aside, Wednesday night I meandered outside at 11pm with my gin and tonic and there was Jean, fast asleep on the steps. Foolishly I ventured a soft “bonsoir” and was faced with instant consequence to my actions – as he swung, bleary-eyed, towards me, shotgun in hand. I pictured myself standing there gripping my wounded stomach.
Still, I stood my ground, and decided since I was still alive that the moment had passed, as he blurted out an incomprehensible explanation in creole – which I suspect would have been no less incomprehensible in the Queen’s English. I nodded. Then gave him a diet Coke, told him to stay awake, and retreated inside.
I promised to be more shotgun savvy in the future.
Thursday night, all was well, 6.30pm (It gets dark at 5.30 here), and I was reading the children bedtime stories when BLAMMO a dramatic blast rang out outside the window. “What’s that noise Daddy?” asked Dorian. “I don’t like it.”
“I don’t like it either,” I replied…. upon which another. BLAMMO!
I peeked outside gingerly. There was Jean, shotgun in hand, muzzle smoking, pointing it at the wall. “Qu’est-ce qui se passe?” I shouted down. Something about the wall, a head peeking over, then flapping hand signals to get back inside.
I rushed in, grabbed the kids and shoved them in the back room. “What’s that noise, Daddy? I don’t like it,” said Dorian. “I don’t like it either,” I replied.
I called Anna, who didn’t answer her cellphone. (She was on the way home). I left an angry message to pick up the f-ing phone. I called again, still no reply.
I had visions of Anna driving into a firefight.
The phone rang. “Hi?” she said. “Jean is firing his shotgun!” I said. “Oh. But he’s letting me in.” And sure enough, Anna had arrived in her big UN car and there was Jean letting her in, without a care in the world.
I walked down. “What on earth is going on?” I asked. Convouted explanations and the answer revealed itself.
It had been a snake. Sneaking down over the wall towards his favourite sleeping chair. “A snake?” I asked, incredulous.
“Yes Monsieur Mark. A snake. A poisonous one.” He acted out the scene. Sneaky snake. He is startled, swings round, spies the predatory beast and boom!
He reflects a moment, then adds, all serious now: “Ils sont tres dangereux.”