It is 12 am someone knocked on my door, “Hey Deibi (David), queremos ir a beber prestige (Haitian Beer), quieres venir con nosotros?” we would like to go out and get a few more prestiges, would you like to join? Why not, I kindly replied. I asked for a few minutes to change, and finally, I was ready to go. Juan Carlos, his wife and his friend all Dominicans, we got into the car and drove to the famous “Boulevard” where plenty of businesses are located. At some point, I asked how do you guys feel walking on the street at this time? Juan Carlos turned and replied this Haiti is very different from the one we have learned about in school; “We feel very safe and welcomed here”.
After this experience, I keep asking myself the following question: what if more Dominicans visit Haiti. While both countries have developed trade relationship, and other agreements, many Dominicans like the rest of the world still think the worst about Haiti, no real exchange programs to allow the youth of both countries understand the reality of both countries. In the Dominican Republic, where I lived for several years, the majority of the people still don’t know the real deal about Haiti, and what it is truly represented in the history of humanity, on the other hands Haitians don’t know much about this country either.
I know a change is slowly happening with the efforts of groups like Atlas Travelers the company that brought Yaritza Reyes, former DR Miss Universe and Siempre Viajero DR tour, which recently took a group of 50 people to Haiti. Cap-Haitien is launching its first Tourism Innovation event in November. We hope by then we see more Dominicans visit Haiti and that fellow Haitians start to learn more about the DR. We have a lot to gain learning about each other and working together to develop our respective country. Take some times and Imagine for a moment two great countries on the same island, and picture the kind of examples we can set for the rest of the Caribbean and the world.