The curatorial team will be staying at the Leah Gordon suite (room 11) at the Oloffson. Please come to see us if you have any problems
Andre Eugene 37421367
Leah Gordon 4478 5696
Haiti is affected by Mosquito borne diseases like Malaria, Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya. The most effective way to avoid infection is to make sure you do not get bitten. Please bring sufficient supplies of tropical strength insect repellent. Tuberculosis is prevalent in the neighbourhood so check to see that you had your BCG vaccination in the past. If you are worried talk to your doctor concerning health related precautions related to Haiti. Bring sunscreen as you will probably be out working in the sun so you need to protect your skin. A hat is advisable too. The public health service in Haiti is unreliable and the private service expensive and we advise you all to take out travel health insurance before you come.
Shopping and Money
Be aware the supermarkets, hardware stores and pharmacies are far and few and may be limited in downtown Port-au-Prince. But there are a large number of vast informal markets, street vendors and street kitchens. Buying specific things can be complicated, so try to plan ahead and bring the things you really need with you. And be prepared to improvise once in Haiti.
As ATMs are sparse, maybe broken and potentially dangerous (as they can be targeting by muggers) try to bring sufficient US dollars in cash in range of small units. Smaller dollars notes are great for tipping.
You can change US dollars into Haitian Gourdes in the neighbourhood of the Biennale Site in Grand Rue or in several downtown supermarkets. If you run short of cash friends can send via Western Union or MoneyGram.
The official currency in Haiti is the Gourde. Currently you get approx. 84 gourdes to the US dollar. There is a 5-gourde coin, and 25, 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000 gourde notes. Get in the habit of asking for low denomination notes as there is always a shortage of change in circulation.
There is a virtual currency, the Haitian Dollar. When the US invaded Haiti in 1915 they fixed the gourde to the US dollar at the rate of 5 gourdes a dollar. This has led to a 500-gourde bill being referred to as 100 Haitian dollars, a 100-gourde bill referred to as 20 Haitian dollars...and so on. This can be very confusing and lead you to be vulnerable to hustles by money changers in the first week. So, concentrate, count your money carefully and make sure that when asking a price to clarify if they mean Haitian or US dollars when discussing prices in dollars.
Arrival in Haiti
At the airport, when you filling out your landing cards, you will have to pay 10 US cash upon arrival. They also accept euros but be sure to have the cash ready.
When filling in your reason of travel, we recommend putting leisure/tourist as otherwise you may get all your bags checked and may be charged an import tax.
PAP airport is a very hectic place. Try to stay calm and ignore anyone who approaches you to help. Do not give your bag to anyone to carry for you as they will possibly charge heavily once you are outside. Go straight through to the main exit doors and look out for Evel Romain who will be holding up a sign with your name. He will drive you to the hotel but if there are several participants arriving at similar times he might ask you to wait there, so he can collect someone else. The trip costs $25 US per person.
Every artist (Haitian and visiting) participating in the Ghetto Biennale will receiving an official badge. Only team up or collaborate with someone who can produce this badge. If in doubt talk to a member of the curatorial team. For your own safety and comfort, we suggest not to go alone when venturing away from the site, at first at least, and recommend that walk with another participating artist until you feel more confident of your route.
We have organised a local cook, Rosemary, who will prepare delicious daily lunches for all the participants. She is located in the main site of the Ghetto Biennale at Lakou Cherie at Eugene. Please buy your cooked food from her when at the site. We are hoping that the food will have a vegan alternative too.
The site is approx. 25 minutes’ walk from the Oloffson Hotel and Fredy’s Guesthouse. Daytime it is fine to walk there. You can also take a publique. Look out for a car with a red ribbon attached to the front mirror. Usually hissing a sharp psssssst will be sufficient to stop one. To get to the Ghetto Biennale tell the driver to take you to Gran Rue - Rue Chareron.
Site address: 622, Blvd Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Port-au-Prince, HAITI
Near that street corner look out for the huge metal Atis Rezistans sign. Welcome!
Publiques function as collective taxis, so don’t be surprised if the driver accepts other passengers on the way and also changes the route to get there. But you will always get there. The standard fare from the Oloffson to the Site is 30 gourdes – have the right change! The publiques will not take large notes.
On the Streets
When walking through the city, be mindful of the poorly paved roads, holes and gravel everywhere. Especially at night.
Please be aware that this is a country of great poverty and inequalities and don’t offend people by insensitive behaviour as in waving your possessions around. Parading your phones, photographic equipment or laptops publicly could be dangerous. Be discreet about it and never film or record anything anywhere without prior permission. To get permission you are likely to have to pay a little cash. We always recommend teaming up with one of the local artists to collaborate on the organisation/realization of your project but be aware they will often require payment.
In the Ghetto Biennale neighbourhood is a total lens ban, and this includes mobile phones. The only people allowed to photograph, for documentation, are local Haitian artists and members of the curatorial team, Leah, Liz and Cat.
Walking around on foot during the night is something we do not recommend. Especially alone and unaccompanied without a local artist. We recommend meeting at the Biennale Site and wait for a ride organised with Evel to bring you back to the hotel or take a moto or publique.
Probably best advice is to bring an old mobile and buy a Haitian sim card such as Digicel.