Pedernales Haitian Market

Head east at Santo Domingo and after a few hours drive you’ll end up in the south. Down here you’ll see all the things you’d expect in the deep south: deserts, swamps, gators…. Wait, wrong deep south.

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But actually not that far off. This is indeed desert area, and while there are no gators, there are crocodiles… But we’ll talk about them in another video.

Because of the desert the area is sparsely populated and most communities center around specific areas of geographic or industrial importance. Still, there are a lot of interesting locations far off the beaten tracks worth a visit.

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But today we wanted to visit one thing that doesn’t usually count as a tourist attraction, and for remote places down south i turned to a local expert and one of the foremost guides to the area: Mike. He also happens to be my little-big brother… Or big-little brother. You decide which is which. We like to keep people guessing.

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It’s called a Haitian market since it sells Haitian products. Except they’re mostly not Haitian products. I mean, you’ll find some local produce and products of course, but for the most part it’s actually a secondhand market, or flea market if you will.

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You see, for over 50 years the world has been pumping aid into Haiti, which has not just served as a moral placebo for the world, but does actually do something: it’s created a whole economy of its own, that of the used clothes and items market. You know what they say: one man’s trash is another nation’s economy. Or something like that.

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Donated and used clothes that end up in collections in the more, shall we say wealthy nations, are packed and shipped to developing countries worldwide: Haiti for example. And here they are resold for dirt cheap. Seriously, you can get used clothes for a fraction of a fraction of what you would pay for them new.

But they’re not just resold within Haiti: a large amount is taken outside the Haitian border and resold to Dominicans — in the case of the Pedernales Haitian market literally just a few feet from the border. Here anyone can then rifle through these, buy a few or a whole bunch and then resell them again somewhere else on the island.

If you thought your free donations are given for free to someone somewhere, you’ve been sadly misled. For the most part all donated things are at some point sold and resold, even if it’s just for a few cents on the pound. Even so, the point was for them to help someone, right? Well, by creating this economy, someone got a job and was able to make some money and feed their family. And that was the whole point, right?

While I don’t need a broom, I heard of something very elusive – Haitian rum. It is rumored to be one of the best rums in the world, and I want to know if that is true. It’s not available in the DR, but you can find the odd bottle here on the market. You just have to look.

My verdict: it really is the best rum I’ve ever had. Not sure the best in the world since I haven’t tried them all yet, but it seriously is delicious. Especially Bakara Kanel, with its hint of cinnamon flavor. If you can get it, try it. But you may have to go to Haiti to find it or at least to the border…

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