Walking up the steps of the Hotel Oloffson is walking into another time and place.  I’d been hear before, to dance for hours to RAM, the house band, though I hadn’t really taken in the building itself back then.

I’d heard Graham Greene’s The Comedians had been set here, and I could certainly see why.  The building was a personality, a presence.  I could well imagine relocating my long-stalled novel here instead, taking up the challenge of describing its arches, and corners, and staircases.

After checking in, I was shown to the Charles Addams room.  All the rooms had the names of famous people who had stayed in them.  Addams was the cartoonist who created the Addams family in the New Yorker.  Apparently he based their home on this very hotel.  I secretly hoped there’d be a wooden box with a hand that appeared to shake my hand.  The room was bigger than expected, with balcony over the pool.  I no longer felt like I was in Haiti, or at least the current Haiti.

Wandering a bit, I found that the room next to mine was the Mick Jagger room.  They seemed twins in all things save their patron’s personalities.  My room spoke of morbid non-conformism and the other … well, I guess Mick isn’t morbid.  An interesting juxtaposition to ponder on my balcony… what these two men thought of Haiti as they returned to their rooms, how it influenced their art, their life.

After settling in, we went to AMSAI to meet Sarita.  I had a wonderful talk with her about “leading, not teaching”.  She’s in complete agreement:  it’s more important for a tone of guided discovery to be set than to cover the material.  She’s going to think of some improv theatre type group bonding stuff to do on Friday with the mentors.

Back at the Oloffson, I had a wonderful dinner and spoke with several people.  Seems many come to the Oloffson just to meet interesting people.  I can see why.  Towards the end of the night I had a long talk with Richard Morse himself, leader of RAM and owner of the hotel.  We talked about his mother’s school and his cousin, Mr. Martelly.  Just after he told me about a visit by Ben Stiller, he got a text from Ben, which he showed me.  “He wants me to come to New York for a benefit with Eddie Murphy.”

All just names, all shared experiences.  The trick is to connect the dots so that more and more children are helped.

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