It is a warm afternoon, balmy with an occasional breeze from the coast. The sun is setting behind a tuft of palm trees. The trees’ long shadows cast dark silhouettes on the old Town Hall, whose foundations are outlined with a flat strip of brass. A few families are quietly contemplating the vacant lot and a young boy lays flowers on the now sacred ground.
The cruise-ship has anchored at the port and vacationers are making their way up to the town square. Submerged in the new humid atmosphere, they walk through narrow stepped corridors and under iron-laced balconies. Children precede them and run up the stairs, proudly shaking the colorful cha-cha’s purchased at the harbor’s art galleries.
The town square has been transformed into an open-air auditorium space. The clock of the Cathedral St Phillipe chimes the new hour and the overhead garlands of light are dimmed. Visitors and locals proceed into their seats. We all face south towards Alexandra, but she can barely be seen. The only light emanates from the colorful fanals on the ground.
Suddenly we hear sounds of drumming. Large screens light up to our left and right, and images of energetic folkloric dancers and colorful carnival paper-mâché masks catch our attention. The crowd, unanimously enthralled by the rich images, applauds and whistles when the drum sounds travel from the speakers to the ground, in front of Alexandra. Live drummers end the piece with strong, deep and bold rhythmic sounds. The fast images are slowly replaced by calmer scenes [Does it seem like I should hint my interest for cinema before introducing this part?]. Young kids splash into the deep pools of the Bassin Bleu waterfalls, fishing nets thrown into the sea glitter under the lazy sun, and silence is reestablished as a cheerful coconut vendor convinces his cameraman to put down his lens and to come enjoy a drink of coconut water.
Alexandra takes our attention again, her turquoise window frames popping out from the darkness. On her left, the mayor of Jacmel climbs to a podium. Behind him, images of the daily lives of Jacmelians fade in and out unto the white façade of Alexandra. Her long cracks are still noticeable, but an unprecedented story of resilience and restoration is about to unfold.