Shopping is typically done on the street in large markets or by buying from roving vendors. Clothing is imported from abroad by the bushel so expect to see American fashions ten or twenty years out of style. Haiti doesn't have high en…Open the full description
Shopping is typically done on the street in large markets or by buying from roving vendors. Clothing is imported from abroad by the bushel so expect to see American fashions ten or twenty years out of style. Haiti doesn't have high end stores, though it is possible to visit a tailor and have dresses or shirts handmade or altered at an affordable rate.
Things you may want to buy include:
1) Rum - Barbancourt three and five star rum is the flagship product though there are some less brands which are okay. You can also purchase this at the airport for prices slightly higher than in the supermarket and it makes a great gift when you get home.
2) Peanut butter, vanilla (the real stuff), and coffee - produced in Haiti and better than the stuff at home. They make great gifts. If you can find someone roasting fresh peanuts on the street a bag of these make a good gift as well, though they smell so good you might not be able to resist eating them on the way home.
3) Leather goods - Haitian sandals (make sure they fit), jewelry and masks are common.
4) Traditional Haitian clothing - Made of a blue cloth and usually embroidered, you can get shirts for men and dresses, skirts, and jumpers for women.
5) Straw products - Baskets and woven mats are inexpensive (and authentic) souvenirs. Straw hats and bags are sometimes sold on the street or in the iron market; these are used by peasants in the rural areas.
6) Paintings - You can find these on the roadside, at the iron market, at Place St. Pierre in Petionville, or outside of the United Nations LogBase at the airport. Unless you are buying in a gallery, small paintings cost 500 gourdes while larger paintings (2"x3" or bigger) go for upwards of 1500 gourdes. The more paintings you buy the more the vendor should negotiate. The paintings can be removed from the wooden frame and rolled if you request it.
7) Iron work - Metal sculpture was pionneered by the aristans of Croix-des-Bouquet and this is the best and least expensive place to buy the art. A metal drum is burned to remove the residue, cut open, pounded flat, and then, using stencils, shapes are cut from the now-flat piece of metal. This is shaped using hammers and awls, filed and sanded to remove the rough edges and create texture, and then painted and shellac'ed (though it's also beautiful, and more authentic, without the paint).