Domino Effect

During one of my series of farewell happy hours, a good friend took my hands, and in one of those we-are-intoxicated-and-therefore-will-speak-dramatically-epic-truths-moments, made me promise to document my year in Haiti.  I haven’t posted again because I’ve been too busy living each moment and just breathing in the air in Port-au-Prince, getting more settled and comfortable day by day.  I keep having that experience when you look at the date and are completely astonished that so much time has passed.  Tonight, I’m listening to the same friend’s playlist from last year, dancing around my kitchen to disco-tastic electronic beats while cutting up watermelon and trying to focus on one cohesive moment, one complete and transferable thought, that I can put on paper.  Which moment can I use from the past few weeks that can give a snapshot of my new life in Haiti.  My 26th birthday? The night I moved into my first apartment by myself? The first two weeks staying at my boss’s house, moving into the desk in our office, getting used to my new role?  The next two weeks when she was on leave and I had to make it up as I went along? Or yesterday , when she got back and realized all hell broke loose in her absence?  Or today, when she thanked me for moving things forward despite the train wreck?

And that’s when it hit me.  The past month has been stuffed to the gills with decisions.  It’s been like a domino effect, once you make one a series of others start happening, from the large life altering decisions like signing my contract and deciding to move to the Caribbean, to the smallest decisions about lifestyle–more decisions than I usually make in a year. I’ve redefined myself over and over each day.  Each day, making decisions on whether I should get the sea-foam green sheets or the sunny colored ones; whether I want to live on a mountainside overlooking the city or downtown in the thick of things, or in the suburbs by my office; whether I should sign up for membership at the gym or at the yoga studio; whether I should go out with new friends and get a drink tonight or prioritize that work project I’ve been itching to finish; whether I want to try live by myself and test my independence or surround myself with fun and exciting roommates and fill my home life with friends; whether I’d feel more at home in the bedroom with wall-to-wall-windows or the one with the full length mirror and the shoe rack installed in the closet.  And that is the beauty of moving to an entirely new place–the possibilities for reinventing yourself are infinite and exhilarating.

There is one common sentiment that has persisted over the past few weeks.  That feeling when you feel a smile start in your bones and work its way slowly outward, and before you know it you’re grinning at the Haitian band that is playing music at the airport as you exit the plane and get in line at customs.  The first weekend, at 11am on Saturday morning, not actually meditating, instead watching the light come in from the windows, lying on the ground listening to the sounds of Petionville traffic at the end of a yoga class, feeling centered and like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.   Sitting in the backseat of the car on Sunday on the way to the ocean with my colleague, remembering how the last time we went on a beach road trip and I watched the countryside roll by that I’d imagined what my life would be like if I moved here–and realizing it really did actually happen.

Tonight–going through sun salutations almost by accident after a thoroughly exhausting, demanding, pressure-filled, negative and simultaneously rewarding and overwhelmingly positive 48 hours at work, relaxing into the stretch and feeling that sense of calm.

And Right Now–dancing to the last song on the playlist around the kitchen, my favorite room in my new home, feeling tired after a long day at work, but happy with most of the decisions I’ve made, and able to sleep tonight without wondering what decisions will come tomorrow.


Haiti Bucketlist:

This is my brand spanking new bucketlist for my new life in Haiti.  In no particular order and without much link to reality:


  • Become tan for the first time in my life
  • Post on this blog more than once (CHECK)
  • Learn to at least swear fluently in Creole, if not also general sayings
  • Read Mountains Beyond Mountains
  • CLIMB MOUNTAINS! I’ve heard there is a climb peak-to-peak and stop in spiritual huts along the way where you drink tea!
  • Test out this living by yourself idea; also the living with a pool nearby;
  • Convince all friends and family to come visit!
  • Get to know the art community Sans Soleil in PAP (Port-au-Prince) and pick up some amazing pieces
  • Learn absolutely everything about Haiti’s history, especially politically, and the ins-and-outs of US Foreign Policy, and how the Haitian parliament works (or doesn’t)
  • Keep going to at least two yoga classes per week–especially the ones at 6AM (I’m not sure why this is a goal, I must be out of my mind to want to get up this early more than three weeks in a row)
  • Have as many of these weekends as possible:  Yoga/shopping/errands/dancing the night away Saturday and Day of Rest/hungover/junk food/lazy/watch a whole season of {fill in the blank} tvshow Sunday
  • Kick ass at my job, take on management roles, get involved with grants and technical aspects of the industry–actually become involved with the meat of our industry and have my hand on the pulse of our project
  • Spend as much time on the beach as possible
  • Explore the music scene
  • Decide whether this expat lifestyle fits–and what my next steps might be…
  • Stay safe and call my parents often
  • Scubadiving and snorkeling and see this
  • Save enough money for grad school
  • CARNIVALE 2014 in Jacmel!!!
  • Find a MMA (mixed martial arts) instructor and become strong enough to be a super hero with a secret identity
  • Salsa lessons!
  • Actually take pictures with my SLR
  • Take a French class that really improves my grammar and makes me able to qualify as a B1 or B2 level of fluency
  • Fall in love at least once
  • Legally evade taxes
  • Build a solid support group but also branch out from my expat social circle and make quality relationships with folks here
  • Eat as many mangos as possible
  • Visit at least half of these cities/countries: Dominican Republic, Cuba, Equador, Galapagos Islands, Peru, Brazil, Panama, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Belize, Nicaragua, Mexico, Miami, Fort Myers, Disney Land
  • I think that’s enough for now…. 🙂

Hello from Haiti!

Welcome to my new blog!  I arrived here on May 1st, 2013 and for the next eleven months I’ll be working with a USG funded legislative strengthening program based in Port-au-Prince.  I’m hoping to use this blog to stay in contact with my friends and family, to create a window into my day-to-day life, to document my time here,  to invite you to come visit (shameless plug), and to keep track of my bucketlist goals which will be in my next post. I can’t guarantee any sort of frequency so one easy way to follow my adventures here is to subscribe and receive an email update for whenever I post.

A number of folks expressed interest in visiting.  I went ahead and created a doodle MeetMe calendar where you can see where I am busy over the next several months.  Take a look if you’re considering it to get an idea of when other folks are coming and coordinating schedules.  We can also use it to schedule catch-up skype calls.  Also, did I mention that Haiti is an island in the carribbean and less than a two hour flight from Miami? Just saying.

Click on this link to learn more:

Until next time!!~Alex

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