an infant. Her laundry pile suggested she had a large family, with children of various ages.
“Eske ou vle mwen benyen ou, mesye?” (“Do you want me to bathe you, sir?”)
The sense of flattery caused by this come-on was rapidly negated by the knowledge that I was middle-aged and, as a blan, ludicrously ugly. She must be from the village tourists pass through on the way to Bassin Bleu, I thought. I had found out about Bassin Blue several trips before this one, from Michel, a “gid blan” who was always hanging around the hotel. As likable as he was, there was something about the way he would ask, “Dr. Fournier, is there anything you want me to show you? Anything you want? Anything?” that made me wonder if he was strictly in just the guide business. Since the United Nations intervention, Jacmel had become a popular destination for army troops on weekend leave and there were lots of gid blan like Michel willing to show the soldiers the sights and more. So the thought of sexual tourism in Jacmel in general, and Bassin Blue in particular, had crossed my mind in the abstract already. But this was real and obviously not her first attempt. I was being seduced and propositioned. My principles were being put to the test. There was no one else around. No one would ever know.
“Pa pa lage kò-w bay touris pou lajan. Se blan yo ki pote SIDA ak lòt maladi yo. Genyen fyète aysisyen-w. Pa mande!” (“Don’t give yourself to tourists for money! Strangers have AIDS and other maladies! Take pride that you’re Haitian and don’t beg!”), I said.
She was stunned to hear this mini sermon. “Ou fou, blan” (“You are a crazy foreigner”), she said as she laughed.
“Pa fou, men kontan fè konesans avèk ou. Ou vle danse?” (“Not crazy, but happy to meet you. Would you like to dance?”), I came back, as I shuffled my hips and feet in a poor imitation of compa. At this she pulled up her dress, gathered her laundry, and quickly descended down the path convinced, I’m sure, that I was crazy.