On Saturday, I attended a Haitian birthday party for 5-year old Laura in Maryland. My four children (ages 5 to 9), whom I took with me, couldn't wait to get to Laura's house. "When will we get there?" was the refrain, as we made our way from the ATM to Toys-R-Us for the gift to the gas station. Finally, we made it to the family's house in Prince Georges County 90 minutes after the published start time.
Things were just getting started, and when we left four hours later, I had to pry my children away, since the children were just getting started with the pinata and they hadn't sung Happy Birthday yet to Laura. My son was particularly irate, but it was after 8:30 p.m. and time to go. Welcome to Haitian parties, kids!
My wife is Haitian-American, and I learned a lot about Haiti when I first got to know her and her family 15 years ago while in graduate school.
But I have to say I learned a great deal on Saturday night talking with my newfound Haitian buddies. I learned that it was Haitians who had kicked the Spanish out of what is now the Dominican Republic (courtesy of Yuri). I learned that the Haitian government didn't intercede to protect sugarcane workers and other Haitians who were slaughtered in the 1930s in the Dominican Republic because the Haitian government wasn't very stable, and it needed the Dominicans' help in rooting out Haitian dissidents who would use the Dominican side of the border to launch invasions.
I learned from Mario some of the attributes from the French that Haitians and other former French colonies have inherited. But I won't get into that, since it's not at all very politically correct!
By the end of the party, I declared to the hostess, Dominique, that "Haitians know how to throw a party." The kids had facepaint, I had a margarita and three Mike's Hard Lemonade in me, and I had eaten some delicious Haitian food (why don't we have a Haitian restaurant in the Washington area?).
I couldn't wait until the Flag Day party and our upcoming soccer pickup games (thanks Felix).