Nathalie Joachim: Travel Diary to Haiti, Part III / by Liquid Music

Nathalie Joachim describes her family home and gives a first-hand account of a bus ride in Haiti in the third installment of her Fanm d'Ayiti travelogue.

Nathalie X_IMG_1226 Arthur Moeller.jpg

Today was a travel day, which after several days of excitement, I was happy for. It gave me some great time to reflect on all of the wonderful conversation I’d had while in Port-au-Prince, and allowed me to appreciate just how much more connected I felt to this project. The music has never been the real struggle of developing this work, but how to work in the storytelling aspect has been a challenge for me. I wasn’t sure what I would get out of these interviews I’ve had over the past few days, or if they would even happen. Now that they have, I’ve decided to allow the stories to be told by those who they belong to. Fanm d’Ayiti will be an evening length experience, so my plan now is to interweave the musical tales with the audio I’ve been collecting on this trip. I’m hoping that it will allow me to share my process in creating this work, and the stories of these phenomenal women as intimately as I’ve experienced them. I’m so excited to get to editing!

Anyway, funny story about my travel from Port-au-Prince to my next destination: my family’s small town of Dantan, Haiti. This drive is usually a part of all of my trips to Haiti – about 4 hours beautiful riding through the mountains and often on the coast. My dad and/or cousin will pick me up from the airport, and the ride will be filled with great conversation, lots of laughter short naps, and music – always music, with a touch of talk radio. You know... balance! This time, because of my Port-au-Prince adventures, Yolaine (stepmom/Fanm d’Ayiti assistant extraordinaire) and I took a bus. A BUS. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love a good bus. I’m a city girl! I take buses all the time, and I not ashamed to say that I have rocked a Greyhound ride or two in my day. But a bus in Haiti?!!! To actually call it a bus is to submit to a very loose understanding of the word. When I saw my luggage ascend to the top of this vehicle to be tied down with some rope, I think I actually swallowed a squeal and internally thanked every item in my suitcase for its service, Marie Kondo style. No part of this experience brought me joy. There weren’t any live animals on the bus... but it was so bad, that the ride would not have been worse if there actually were live animals onboard. I texted my siblings a minute to minute update of the entire experience for good humor, and also so there would be a record of all of my final thoughts in the event of my passing to be read at my funeral.

Group family text screenshot

Group family text screenshot

I planned to work on this blog entry during my ride, but mostly I held on for dear life and hoped for the best. That will likely be my first and last bus ride in Haiti, but I’m thinking about getting a t-shirt that says “I survived the wild Haitian bus ride 2017,” LOL!

Arriving in Dantan always feels amazing. The drive to my dad’s from the city of Les Cayes is just gorgeous, and every moment of it – the rice fields, the farmers, the cows and goats on the side of the road, the blue skies and sunshine, the friendly waves and curious stares – it all feels like home. This trip was slightly more somber because much of the vegetation was torn up by Hurricane Matthew. In fact, when we turned into our driveway, I almost didn’t recognize the place! But the love of generations of my family  was there to greet me as always.

Our family home is still a functioning farm, and I was happy to see that as the farming community are piecing their lives back together, there is plenty of new life to be celebrated. The trees are baring their first fruits since the storm, and signs of a productive spring were fully evident in the farm animals. All in all, there were 3 kittens, 5 puppies, 8 baby chicks, a whole load of ducklings and piglets too! 

After greeting these new additions, and sharing many warm hugs and kisses with family, I ate a great plate of home cooked Haitian food grown on the very land I sat on, and relaxed with my dad. It certainly does feel good to be home.

See the World Premiere of Fanm d'Ayiti
Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 7:30pm (purchase tickets)
Amsterdam Bar and Hall, Saint Paul

Fanm d’Ayiti Related Event:
On Being with Nathalie Joachim and Krista Tippett

Monday, January 15, 2018 (reserve tickets
Doors at 7:00pm | Conversation at 7:30pm
On Being Studios, Minneapolis

Keep up with Fanm d'Ayiti on the Liquid Music Blog:
Travel to Haiti Part II
Travel to Haiti Part l
Liquid Music Connects: Students Visit Virtually with Nathalie Joachim, Part II
Liquid Music Connects: Students Visit Virtually with Nathalie Joachim
Introducing Nathalie Joachim

Follow Nathalie Joachim:
Twitter: @flutronix (
Instagram: @njoachim (

Twitter: @LiquidMusicSPCO (
Instagram: @LiquidMusicSeries (
Podcast: Liquid Music Playlist