This past summer, I spent two beautiful weeks in Deschappelles, Haiti. The heat was intense, the people were very relaxed (as is common with islanders), and art was incorporated into mostly everywhere one could look. From the sides of buildings to the sounds of street musicians, I relished in the aestheticism of this country.
This country of Haiti, although severely impoverished, was rich with creativity. I experienced this fierce and natural creative spirit most when I met Pasky.
I had met this young man, 24 years of age, at the local tennis court. Being an avid tennis player myself, I would stop at the tennis courts at least once a day to play the town’s best hitters. It was titillating to barely be able to communicate with many villagers, but nonetheless exchange forehand, backhands, and serving strokes.
Pasky and I shared a match, and a few days later, he saw me walking around town with my big camera taking pictures of the area’s tree reforestation program (my reason for traveling to Haiti).
Pasky walked on over to me and said, in broken English, “Mark, will you please take a music video of me?”
I responded, “Pasky, you’re a rapper?”
He said “Oui, oui.” (meaning yes, yes).
It was natural that I accepted the challenge, even though I had not used video editing software since high school. I traveled to the country to help Haitians and this was my opportunity, one which could not have been more directly offered to me.
So, we set to record the next day. Pasky showed up wearing quirky and colorful rural costume of sorts, and had brought his friends from the tennis courts as his personal hype-men. So, we set forth, me recording, Pasky singing, and his friends joking and suggesting different dance moves to their rapper-friend. I was very grateful to be able to record what I think of as a pure manifestation of Haitian culture that developed before me.
We had a blast hitting up different spots around town and having random members of the community get involved, all while having good fun.
My personal favorite part of the video is the last minute, where the music fades out and you can only hear the raw noises of the excited Haitians. The country has an amazing culture, represented by this final part of the film clip.
The day before I left, Pasky gave me a nice present. It turns out, he’s an excellent pencil artist as well! Here is the portrait he created with myself as his inspiration to show thanks for me agreeing to give him his hour or so of fame… he even depicted me showing peace!
Indeed, I loved the country, and now, looking back, I love the simple and pure memory of the video-recording experience. I look forward to going back to Haiti and meeting Pasky, my friend, at the cement tennis court in the heart of Deschappelles.