After taking back the passport and customs form, and redoing the assignment (I felt like I was in elementary school, being graded for an assignment done poorly), I handed it back to the official dude at the counter. With little to no smile, he took the items from me, put them up to the light and placed it back on the table.
“Now what?” I asked him in poor, choppy, disgusting creole “sac pasee.”
“Ayien” he said and then looked at the other officer standing beside him. He showed the officer my passport. Both took turns pointing at me, and then looking back at the picture. They were both giggling. Something must have been terribly funny looking.
Then, they called over a police guard clear across the waiting room. The police guard waded through the crowd. I started to feel a bit nervous. Not only are they giggling when they look at my passport, but they are also beckoning a police person to come “see this.”
The guard did not even have the decency to say excuse me. As he came across the way, he looked at what the officer was showing everyone else. They were looking at my passport picture.
See, in Haiti and its neighbor, taking a passport pictures is a very serious thing. One does not smile, one does not wear any accessories, and one does not even hint at being “happy.” So my passport picture, understandably, was extremely unsexy, unpretty…to be honest, quite ugly.
I looked like a tall, slightly overweight, short-haired African male. And to top it all off, I had a slight squint which was a lot more apparent since one is not allowed to wear glasses when taking passport photos. So I did not feel pretty at all. I felt hideous.
So as everyone around the officer was looking at my photo, giggling at me, laughing at the photo, looking back at me, I just felt this overwhelming desire to throw up. I felt that I was actually being visually molested. I was helpless. If I grabbed the passport, would they remember me and not let me in the next time? Would they arrest me? Would they not stamp my damn passport????
Haiti is not a lawless country, it is a country where people don’t know how, nor choose, to follow the law. So one never knows when they will spend a few hours in a jail cell. So I really had to choose my battles.
My friend who was with me asked to have the passport. They kindly gave it to him and yelled during the transaction “ce’st un monsier”.
Sometimes I just want to be sexy. It is hard to feel wanted or even sexy when you live with a disability that you really can’t change unless you have tons of money.
When I was a baby, I was extremely mal-nourished. When I eventually was put into an orphanage, the food, nor care was enough to keep me from getting a squint. I was also locked in a closet for days at a time which I am sure did not help with my health. By the time I got to my adoptive parents (4 years later), my eyesight had already been cut by a large percentage and one eye decided that it would make decisions for itself.
So it is something I live with on a daily basis. Things could of course be worse. I am healthy now, and loved by my partner but it is sometimes hard to feel “sexy” in an unsexy body. And in this country, and in Haiti, beauty is even more subjective because these countries are so male dominated.
My passport was stamped eventually but now the issues were about to get that much worse…….