Recently I had the fortune of traveling to a tropical paradise called Labadee. Contrary to what you hear in the news, this is a calm and safe place in Haiti. The weather was perfect, turquoise waters, beautiful white sand beaches, and warm welcoming people. If I had to describe paradise, this place would probably be at the top of my list. This is in essence a picture perfect place.
On my quest for fresh coconut water, I asked a local where I could purchase a coconut after having sighted countless palm trees loaded with them. He immediately took care of my need. While sitting on my lounge chair and within minutes this resourceful man made me a clever offer, disappeared in an instant, and quickly showed up again with a freshly cut coconut. My guess is that he climbed one of the trees closeby barefoot, used his hands as tools to get himself to the top, and yanked the precious prize swiftly and quietly. I asked in surprise, how on earth am I going to be able to open this and drink from it? He said without hesitation, “no problem man”, and smacked the coconut against the palm tree trunk behind me and voilà, the coconut was cracked. He then took an empty plastic cup with a straw sitting on my bag and poured as much water as he could fit in it and inverted the coconut above his head and drank the rest! Then, he looked in all directions as if he was being watched and said something like “whatever you can do for me would be okay”. I paid him $3 and he left as happy as a clam.
The resourcefulness of the Haitian people was visible throughout the village from the island greeters to the musicians to the artisans. They are skilled in many ways and their best qualities are hospitality and not seeing obstacles in what otherwise you and I may see them. Economic-challenged-countries have a mentality of survival and resourcefulness is a way of life. In the developed countries we are accustomed to convenience and this can cloud our imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills. On my worldwide travels I have encountered a few resourceless-five star hotel concierges which could take a course in hospitality from the Haitian people.
What is Haitian Cuisine?
Haitian cuisine is simple, flavourful, and tropical in nature created with what is available locally and contains, beans, rice (plus other starches), plantains, pork and goat, seafood, peppers and strong seasonings. In essence, it is a fusion of cultures: native peoples, Spanish, French, African and Taino. La Hispaniola Island (Haiti and the Domininan Republic) was the first place in the Caribbean where Columbus set foot. Haiti’s official languages are French and Creole. Haiti (formerly a French colony on the west) shares the island with the Dominican Republic (independent) a Spanish-speaking Latin country.
As a New Year’s Resolution, I invite you to become more resourceful in your life and business. I also encourage you to be more adventurous and try new healthy foods and discover new flavors and textures. For starters, here is one of the typical dishes from Haiti (left hand column).
¡Happy New Year!