26 By Martin Fils Barthold We 8ew kites in the Easter season, but that often meant for as much as two months prior to Easter. Since I was in the city of Port au Prince, where there was little open space, we 8ew from our rooftops; most houses are one- or two-story and 8at-roofed. Whole families 8ew kites from 6 a.m.
to 6 p.m. There may well have been 25,000 people 8ying kites at once. The kites looked innocent: hexagonal in shape with a simple three-stick, crossed frame, with a bowed stick across the top.
Paper for the kite sail was the yellow paper used in Haiti for packaging sugar. Otherwise, old dry cleaning plastic was a second-place substi- tute. Children used the white sap from the candelabra plant for glue, while adults favored homemade paste made from wheat 8our, with secret ingredients from family to family.
For the small children 9s kites, the spars could be made with the center vein of a coconut tree leaf. These were kites that measured about .4 by .4 m (ca. 20 by 20 inches) and larger kites with wooden spars 8own by adults were almost twice that size.
Creative kites in all shapes were common as ... more. less.
well, but the hexagon was most popular and could be made in very large sizes. Behind the cross-stick was a hummer made of paper, folded and pasted over the bow string. Of course, the kite had a long tail made from old clothing, and it was on the tail that these kites car- ried their lethal secret.<br><br> You see, these kites were for 7ghting, and on their tails was an array of razor blades (don 9t try this at home, folks) for cutting the line or tearing the sail of neighbors 9 kites. Often the blades were stuck into a small piece of wood to make a V-shaped barb, or the tail could simply be played through the middle of a double-edged blade. As any 8ier who has lost an aerial battle can tell you though, the joy of kite7ghting becomes a complete sadness when your line is cut and your kite lost.<br><br> Essay and poem translated from French for the Drachen Foundation by Rebekah Pape. Memories of Kite8ying In Port au Prince The Kites of Haiti A sky of a matron Clothed in a thousand colors Yellow, red, and blue Grey, green, and white Good fortune and joy scolded the kites. On the rhythm of the wind The enchantment of the air The fresh morning breeze Dance the most beautiful kites.<br><br> As on an enchanted path The wondrous wings A form of a fairy The kites of Haiti Are always radiant Entranced and full of life. In spite of the misery that runs through our veins The war that brings us so many sorrows At this time of the year all our woes are deposited At the strong-box of the past And as usual Small and large Rich and poor Brothers and sisters Participate in the embellishment of the heavens. <br><br>