Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bits and Pieces - The Dave Clark 5

Had intended 'posting' this compilation as my 
final farewell to Haiti,
but forgot.
On departing HAITI, with reluctance I have to add, there are a few items that have been 'left over' from the days spent here. The tentative plan had been to book 3 nights at the Eucalyptus Guest House, as a 'suck it and see', but after 2 days I went for the complete week then extended further for a total of 13 days. Agreed, Haiti is broken but I would strongly recommend a visit even if only as a 'walk on the wild side'. If indeed you do decide to come simply make a bee-line for the accommodation noted above, leaving Ernso, wife Gina and their team to do the rest. A late addition to the list, along with Black-crowned Night Heron and House Sparrow, was
 The Birds of the West Indies refer to this 'introduced species',
 from Tropical Asia, as NUTMEG MANNIKIN as do the
 Pet Trade but also knowing it as Spice Finch.
 Other authorities, including the Haitian Ornithological Society,
describe it as SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA with an
alternative to that being Spotted Munia.
Confused? - I know the feeling!
However, for all that it is a nifty little bird.
and how could you leave Haiti without at least touching on VOODOO?
The saying here goes, “Haitians are 70 percent Catholic, 30 percent Protestant, and 100 percent Voodoo”, but there is little sign of it around everyday life.Here is an extract of some of the reading I have been enjoying of late:-
The ceremony begins with a Roman Catholic prayer. Then three drummers begin to play syncopated rhythms, the attendees begin to dance around a tree in the center of the yard, moving faster and harder with the rising pulse of the beat. The priest draws sacred symbols in the dust with cornmeal, and rum is poured on the ground to honour the spirits. One woman falls to the ground, convulsing for a moment before she is helped back to her feet to resume the dance, moving differently now, and continues dancing for hours. It is perhaps no longer she who is dancing: She is in a trance, apparently possessed by Erzuli, the Great Mother Spirit. It is an honour to be entered and "ridden" by a Loa, or spirit. In Haiti these rituals are commonplace: Voodoo is the dominant religion. In April 2003 an executive decree by then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide sanctioned voodoo as an officially recognized religion. "It is a religion in the same way Judaism or Christianity is, Voodoo doesn't have a sacred text, a church, or a hierarchical structure of leaders, but it is very similar culturally."
These trees are held so sacred that no one ever even touches them, even when they are blown down or struck by the quake. An excellent source of firewood, but the faithful would rather go cold!
My own brush with Voodoo, while traveling in the United States with my youngest daughter Lisa, was documented in this Blog on Thursday 13th September 2012, which can be reached via the Search Engine (Search This Blog) next to the Headline.
with my very own Voodoo Doll
which I keep 'close at hand' just in case!
they may be the last!
MOURNING DOVE bathing in the sun.
Fly-over 'Chopper
The view south towards Eucalyptus and
the hills behind Port-au-Prince holding
many of the cities 'shanties'.

seem to be the main avian food supply around here,
the trees and bushes are full of them.
Green 'horseshoe' pods ripen to red then burst
under pressure of the swelling black seed within which
has a white 'skin' coating.
 The HISPANIOLAN PALM CROWs ventured ever close,
into the garden in fact,
 while an obliging WHITE-WINGED DOVE
was another Country Tick.
and yesterday's CHARCOAL PILE now burning away.
finally, I was rather taken by this article sent to me by my good friend Andrew Lindsay - Brave Men Indeed!
 The Great Escape
Untouched for almost seven decades, the tunnel used in the Great Escape has finally been unearthed. The 111-yard passage nicknamed ‘Harry’ by Allied prisoners was sealed by the Germans after the audacious break-out from the POW camp Stalag Luft III in western Poland. Despite huge interest in the subject, encouraged by the film starring Steve McQueen, the tunnel remained undisturbed over the decades because it was behind the Iron Curtain and the Soviet authorities had no interest in its significance.
However, at last British archaeologists have excavated it, and discovered its remarkable secrets. Many of the bed boards which had been joined together to stop it collapsing were still in position. The ventilation shaft, ingeniously crafted from used powdered milk containers known as Klim Tins, remained in working order. Scattered throughout the tunnel, which is 30ft below ground, were bits of old metal buckets, hammers and crowbars which were used to hollow out the route. A total of 600 prisoners worked on three tunnels at the same time. They were nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry and were just 2 ft square for most of their length. It was on the night of March 24 and 25, 1944, that 76 Allied airmen escaped through Harry. Barely a third of the 200 prisoners – many in fake German uniforms and civilian outfits and carrying false identity papers – who were meant to slip away managed to leave before the alarm was raised when escapee number 77 was spotted.
Only three made it back to Britain. Another 50 were executed by firing squad on the orders of Adolf Hitler, who was furious after learning of the breach of security. In all, 90 boards from bunk beds, 62 tables, 34 chairs and 76 benches, as well as thousands of items including knives, spoons, forks, towels and blankets, were squirrelled away by the Allied prisoners to aid the escape plan under the noses of their captors. Although the Hollywood movie suggested otherwise, NO Americans were involved in the operation. Most were British, and the others were from Canada, (all the tunnellers were Canadian personnel with backgrounds in mining) Poland, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.
Tunnel vision: 
A tunnel reconstruction showing the trolley system.
The latest dig, over three weeks in August, located the entrance to Harry, which was originally concealed under a stove in Hut 104. The team also found another tunnel, called George, whose exact position had not been charted. It was never used as the 2,000 prisoners were forced to march to other camps as the Red Army approached in January 1945.
Watching the excavation was Gordie King, 91, an RAF radio operator, who was 140th in line to use Harry and therefore missed out. "This brings back such bitter-sweet memories," he said as he wiped away tears. "I’m amazed by what they’ve found."

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