Posts Tagged ‘Pinotage’


I usually don’t like to post twice in one day, but this was just too good not to share.  I got an email from my friend Elizabeth today with a link to a new website called “Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like”.  Always interested in a good laugh, I clicked on the link and found that the most recent post has pretty much nailed me (and some of our close friends here) right on the head.  What do Expat Aid workers like today?  Motorcycles!:

Expat Aid Workers love motorcycles.*

Riding motorcycles underscores an Expat Aid Worker’s “freedom” and simultaneous (not to mention ironic) “connectedness” to the local geography and people.  Nothing says “I am in solidarity with the attainable aspirations of the poor majority” quite like weaving through traffic on a Honda Dream II or Soviet-era Minsk.  At the same time, an Expat Aid Worker astride a motorcycle declares both a risk-embracing approach to life and sexual availability to potential partners (expat and locals.)

While I may not be sexually available, this is spot on for about a trillion reasons, first and foremost because I JUST wrote the post about how “when Duvalier moves, the only way to keep up is by motorcycle.” (It’s just below, or here)  There is no doubt that this is about the funniest thing I have read in a long time, but it’s kind of weird how at the same time I feel slightly embarrassed.  I have definitely told multiple people that one of the reasons why having a motorcycle is awesome here is because the people seem to connect with you better.  There’s also this gem:

A motorcycle can also help distinguish Expat Aid Workers from non-EAWs (normally foreign extractive industry professionals, diplomats, or private security contractors) who exclusively rely on white SUVs (preferably Landcruisers) for transportation.

I SAY THAT TOO!!!  “Riding a motorcycle keeps you from being in the box that the big SUVs put you in,” I tell passengers on Pinotage who have no option but to listen to me talk, “Driving a motorcycle allows you to connect with your surroundings.”

So there, now that I’ve been pegged I don’t know what to do, as I’m about to jump on the moto to pick up Jillian, but will now be incredibly self-conscious when driving by, well, practically anyone.  But it’s cool, my whole life here can’t be a cliche, right?  I just hope they don’t write one about having dogs and cats….oh wait, they already did.


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When Duvalier moves, the only way to keep up is by motorcycle.  That’s why our trusty chariot, Pinotage, has been working overtime to make sure that we get the best images to cover the story.  The photo above was taken by photographer Andrés Martínez Casares while we were traveling with Duvalier’s motorcade from the courthouse back to the hotel where he was staying. That’s Duvalier’s car right behind my head, and what you can’t see is that there are about 25 motorcycles all weaving in and out of the motorcade taking pictures and shooting video.  What you can see in the photo is some perfect motorcycle-driving-form, and the use of the proper safety equipment.  Bottom line, the photo is awesome.

You can see more of Andres’ work at his website here: www.martinezcasares.com

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UN Troops Love Pinotage


No, UN forces in Haiti weren’t drinking on the job, they were simply enjoying a delicious goblet of our trusty chariot, Pinotage, yesterday while I was shooting video for a Smithsonian Channel documentary.  The shoot was of UN engineers using some heavy machinery to excavate art from a gallery that had collapsed during the earthquake, and because the UN always rolls deep, they had enough troops to make sure that Pinotage was safe and sound all day.  Needless to say, she’s never been in better hands.

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SETTING: Just after coming back from a walk where he peed AND pooped. (He’s such a good boy!)

Olie: Yo! Can I take Pinotage for a spin?
Me: I don’t know, have you ever driven a motorcycle before?
Olie: No…
Me: Then you can’t drive Pinotage.
Olie: Bummer.

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Well, we did it.  Last week we went to the motorcycle shop just down the street from where we are staying and took the plunge.  Our new chariot is a Chinese-made, 2010 Linkgen 125cc motorcycle that rides like a dream.

There are about 10 million reasons why this motorcycle is awesome.  First off, when we (as blancs) ride around the streets of Port-au-Prince on a motorcycle that only Haitian moto-taxi drivers drive, it’s like being a celebrity.  They look at the bike, they look at us, and just start laughing (with us I assume…).

The second thing that’s awesome about this bike is what’s written on the side of the fuel tank:  “Pursue Outstanding, Enjoy the Life.”  Jillian and I “pursue outstanding” everyday, so this is the perfect bike for us.

When I went to actually purchase the bike I was by myself, so to be honest I know very little about its mechanics because everyone who helped set it up did not speak a lick of English.  I have read the 15 page manual which has been poorly translated from Chinese to English, so I get the general gist.  But I’ll be honest, I’m learning as I go.   When I drove this baby home from the shop (after stalling 3 or 4 times), it was the second time I had driven a motorcycle.  EVER.

We decided to go with the “red wine” color because the only other option was silver and we wanted to keep things interesting.  Because of the name of the color, we’ve decided to name our chariot “Pinotage” after the varietal of wine produced in Stellenbosch, South Africa where Jillian and I studied abroad. I don’t know about you, but the one thing that I feel is synonymous with riding a motorcycle in exhaust-filled streets of Haiti is the intense dark cherry, oak barrel, and pencil shaving after-tones of a nicely aged pinotage.

I understand that I’m no master of the motorcycle, so don’t think I’m going to be rushing out to drive the mean streets of PAP traffic anytime soon.  I’m practicing everyday, and making sure to keep my speeds safe (even though it says “High Speed” on the side of the bike).  But there’s a certain liberating feeling now that we can go anywhere we want when we want to, and not have to worry about having enough Goudes to pay the moto-taxi driver to wait outside while we run into the bank.  It’s kinda weird though, all of a sudden I have an intense hatred for men walking across the street holding coolers…I’ll get one of them, one of these days.

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