Welcome to Villarosa

Excerpt from The Spirit of Villarosa
Marc “Butch” Ashton
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
April 5, 2001

Roosters crow incessantly, and the pleasant aroma of strong coffee cooking over the charcoal fires of my shantytown neighbors teases the warm, moist breeze. I walk out among the bright splashes of crimson and tangerine bougainvillea growing in ceramic pots on my second-story terrace, looking over the city as I do every morning to assess the conditions in the streets below and, thus, my chances of getting to and from work.

Surveying the city, I spot barricades of burning tires in the streets. The thick, black, acrid smoke punctuated by slashes of orange flame is an all-too-common sign of trouble in Port-au-Prince these days.

I look down upon the mile-long road built in 1953, when my father purchased and rebuilt Villarosa, our family home since I was fourteen years old. In the early days, our tranquil view was magnificent as we meandered up this lonely road. Perched atop a foothill that has a spectacular view of Port-au-Prince and its bay and surrounded by dense forest, our paradisiacal home had been well outside the borders of Port-au-Prince. Until the mid-eighties, the rose-colored villa was a private tropical oasis where three generations of the Ashton family lived.

In the new millennium, Myriam and I live here alone, but our children and grandchildren gather here often. Today they will all be here for lunch as the family is gathered for the baptism tomorrow of our first grandson.

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