At the end of November last year, my family and I took a cruise, and our first stop was Haiti.
The first thing I remember is how incredibly hot Haiti was as I stepped off the ship. The second thing I remember is how extraordinary the people were. The locals were all friendly and helpful, but the level of poverty that they lived in was astonishing.
We got off the ship in an area set up for tourists: a beautiful beach with palm trees, comfy chairs and hammocks, and buildings brightly painted in shades of peach, green and beige.
When we walked to the area where the locals lived, we saw nothing bright except the souvenirs the Haitians tried to sell us. Shelters were concrete blocks or sheets of metal or wood. Most people were not wearing shoes. Despite the conditions, the Haitians were all smiling.
My son John, being a huge music fan, began a conversation with a man selling Bob Marley T-shirts. After they compared favorite Marley songs, the man handed John a shirt. He said he had no money, but the man said a Marley fan deserved a T-shirt, no matter what.
My son came and found me, asked for some money to give the man for the shirt and went back to pay. The man was surprised and smiled.
When we found out about the earthquake in Haiti, we remembered that man and the other people in Haiti who had been so friendly. I hope they are all OK, but I worry that their country will never recover.
Black History Month programs in Cornelius
The Cornelius PARC Department will offer many different programs for Black History Month starting this month and continuing through February. Go to www.corneliuspr.org for all the available activities and for more information. You can also call 704-892-6031 ext. 160.
Art by Gordon C. James will be on display at the Cornelius Arts Center until Feb. 26. James' work is inspired by the impressionists and John Singer Sargent. You can meet James at an opening reception 7-9 p.m. Friday.
C.A.R.S. (Cultural Arts Reaching Seniors) will visit Torrence Chapel Church Wednesday and Feb. 24. Activities, led by Community Arts Project instructor Cathy Templeton, will focus on African-American artists such as Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold and Jacob Lawrence. For more information contact Mindi Stoner at 704-892-6031 ext. 162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Feb. 20, take a trip to Bishopville, S.C., to view Pearl Fryar's topiary garden and meet the topiary artist himself. The bus will leave Town Hall at 8 a.m. and return about 4 p.m. On the trip there, view the award-winning documentary "A Man Named Pearl," about the process Fryar used to transform his garden. The cost for the trip is $10 per person; that covers transportation only. Participants will be responsible for their own lunches. As space is limited, you must register by Feb. 12 at the PARC Department or online ( www.corneliuspr.org).