Monday, August 23, 1999


Reading Henry Louis Gates, Jr. with my shirt off and picking at my peeling sunburns the day before I leave. Struck for the first time at the poetry of Benisoit showing me his birth certificate—he did this twice—once in the back room at the Centre where he sleeps, and it was yellowed and crumbling, and his whole identity was dissolving; once at the office, proudly, with a crisp photocopy. Ah, Lordy. I’ve been having good dreams now that I’m going home: three-wheeling with Anna and Ivaan, together with Jen. I am after all a weak silly little fuck.

I asked Robbie to write and draw something for me when I found him, and he grudgingly gave me my trophy. See above. He is in paradise. The truck driving up to his village from San José de Ocoa just climbed and climbed, through thick hanging jungles and the contours of mountain pastures, all of which reminded me of nothing so much as Mount Aso. The froth of vegetation is the same as Japan, and everywhere in it are butterflies or meandering cows. I was in the bed of the truck with 40 bags of cement and another Dominican Rafael and we could talk a bit. By the end of it we were tracing a ridge as high as the horizon, and every bush on the slopes had red teardrops, and every vine had trumpets the colour that our passports turn under the light.

Robbie didn’t even recognize me at first … he had no idea I was even on the island. Relieved when he broke into a grin an introduced me to his teammates as “one of my best friends from Canada.” So it really seems like it’s all forgiven.

Iris saved my ass on the trip back to P-au-P. The Haitian in charge of the bus kept doubling what he thought was necessary for customs, so I decided to face em myself and ended up making everyone wait like an extra 15 minutes. Apparently that Haitian got furious and started stirring up the other passengers against the white that didn’t trust him, and they probably would’ve left without me if Iris hadn’ta stood up to him.

Last few days in Pétionville breezing through pizzas and some last-minute translations. Men here hiss at taxis and women to get their attention. Spent the morning combing galleries for souvenirs that weren’t vodou. It’s all good. Glad to be headin home.

Irony of identity: slaves nearly always changed their names when they were freed. How about Inch’s name game?


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