Haitian Border and Market (a photo/video essay)

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On my recent trip to the Dominican Republic, I visited the Haitian border and its market, Mercado Fronterizo, in a town called Perdernales. While there, I saw people crossing the border and selling a variety of items, from food to toys and even old shoes. The UN also passed through at one point.

Haitian mother and daughter

The Haitian vendors, workers and families, I was told, are allowed to cross the border and sell at the market for the day, but then they must re-cross the border return later on–unless they happen to be living in the DR.

Here is a photo essay and tour of the border and the market–and two video clips I shot to make it even more real. I hope you enjoy it. I’m glad I went since I wasn’t able to travel to Haiti itself as I’d hoped.

The Border

Haitian border immigrations and Customs Official

Haiti through the border fence

Haitian girl crossing border her own way

The Market and Its People

Haitian Border market2

Haitiains interacting at market

Haitian market workers taking break

Working at Haitian market

Haitians resting at market

 

Haitian boy

Food

Chocolate at Haitian market

Sizzling platanos

Meal at Haitian market

Haitian corn meal for sale

Stuff for Sale

Stuff for sale at Haitian market

Toys at Haitian market

The UN Bringing Aid

UN at Haitian border

Videos of the Market and the Border

The Border

The Market

Which border was this? And how’d I get there?

The market is in Perdernales, in the remote southwestern corner of the DR, near one of the country’s best beaches: Bahía de los Águilas. It’s a town that feels like it’s on the other side of the planet. Some guidebooks refer to it as the “end of the world” because of its location and limited transportation options. There’s one way in–and one way out.

To get there, you have to travel to Barahona (about 3 hours or so from Santo Domingo) and then travel on Rt. 44 for a couple more hours to the town and the border. At a certain point, around Las Cuevas, the roads get rough and it’s easy to get lost. My friend and I did.

When we finally saw this sign, we were happy. We knew we’d finally arrived–in Perdernales. The border was just a few minutes away–less than 10, from what I remember.

Perdernales welcome sign, DR

Haitian boys near car


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Your experiences/thoughts/reactions?

Have you visited Haiti or its border? What did you think? Have you visited the country or volunteered there? If so, what was it like? Feel free to share a link to one of your posts.

Also wondering–what sort of vibe do you get from the photos in this essay?

Here’s a post re: why I didn’t travel to Haiti during this trip.

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All photos and video in this post are (c) L Egle, 2012. If you’d like to use anything, especially for volunteer education or training, please contact me for permission via this form.

10 Responses to Haitian Border and Market (a photo/video essay)
  1. Wendy L. Conger
    February 20, 2012 | 9:33 am

    It’s so pitiful to look at those pictures. Some of those third world countries. God bless them, especially those children..
    Wendy L. Conger recently posted..Translate PDFMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      February 20, 2012 | 11:12 am

      Hi, Wendy. I hear you. Some of what I saw made me sad–but not all of it. I was glad that people were allowed to cross the border to earn some money. Without that opportunity, things would be much worse.

  2. Gray
    February 20, 2012 | 5:57 pm

    My reaction….is that I find the photos rather depressing. But they also pique my curiosity about the lives these people are leading. It looks like a very hard life. I wonder where they get the items they’re selling, how much they make doing so, how much (or if) it really helps?

    • CB Driver
      February 21, 2012 | 12:21 am

      Hi, Gray. I wonder about their lives, too. Some seemed somewhat OK re: being there, but many were just sort of there. I noticed many Haitian immigrants up north working in the fields, and that looked much worse. They cross the border at the crack of dawn and toil all day in the sun, then return.

      I hope that whatever these people earn from the market makes a difference. And at least, the families appeared to be together. When my friend Ely and I stayed in Perdernales, we say a few boys sleeping under a car, who later begged us for food. Someone told us that they cross the border to try to get something and then return to their parents every once in a while. That was really sad.

  3. Gray
    February 21, 2012 | 7:04 am

    That IS sad, Lisa. There’s nothing worse than seeing kids torn from their parents due to poverty. I can’t imagine doing anything like that at their age, I’d have been scared out of my mind to be out there on my own.
    Gray recently posted..Why I Love Visiting Tourist AttractionsMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      February 21, 2012 | 7:39 am

      It was sad. I remember the little boys hopping up on the hotel’s roof, trying to get to me and Ely because we were eating dinner on the balcony. We could see that they were hungry, so we gave them food at some point–later on, downstairs. We then saw them the next morning sleeping under some cars.

  4. eToro
    February 23, 2012 | 10:58 pm

    There are still places in which a high percentage of people are living in poverty. One main reason for this problem is a lack of jobs for people.

    • CB Driver
      February 25, 2012 | 12:21 pm

      Very true. I hope Haiti’s economy improves in the future.

  5. Laura
    February 28, 2012 | 3:42 pm

    Haiti was actually my first trip out of the country (well that’s if you don’t count Canada). I went for an alternative spring break trip in college and had a great time. The poverty is extreme, but the water surrounding it is absolutely beautiful!
    Laura recently posted..Montage Monday: Istanbul’s Basilica CisternMy Profile

    • CB Driver
      February 29, 2012 | 8:23 pm

      Hi, Laura. Glad to hear that you went and had a great time. Cool. Hopefully, I’ll get another opportunity in the future. I would love to see those beaches, for sure.

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