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They run this town: Two Haitian women in Regau


It shouldn't come as a surprise that my first blogpost about my road trip in Europe is about the two lively Haitian women I hung out with in Regau, Austria (70 km southeast of Salzburg).

Jacqueline, the oldest, moved to Austria 40 years ago. She was in her 20s. She sent for her sister, Marie-Zette, a few years later; Marie-Zette was 17. They are now both grandmothers, having married Austrian men and raised their families. Jacqueline is retired; Marie-Zette helps manage the family business. I met Marie-Zette 3 years ago in Haiti. She had hosted us for a day at her beach house in Montruis. We had a gem of a time with her. She invited us to visit her in Austria whenever we travelled there. And we did!

The two women are warm and talkative. They are content and proud of the lives they've built. They treated us to lunch in a local restaurant. Jacqueline owns the building and rents it out to a few businesses. She also owns land and apartment buildings that she rents out. To say that they are well adjusted in their adopted country is an understatement.

In the same village, a third Haitian woman lives with her husband. We've only met the husband. Of all the places in the world, they ended up in a small town in Austria! Regau is small and quiet with roughly 7,000 inhabitants. They are well loved in town. As we made our way from Marie-Zette's house to the restaurant, they introduced us to a few neighbours. People often stop at Marie-Zette's for coffee and cake. She's an excellent baker.

We talked about life in Austria and compared it to life in North America. They really had a hard time grasping how materialistic our societies are comapred to theirs. And, like it always happens when Haitians get together, we talked about our homeland. The two ladies go back home every year. They are able to spend a few months at a time each trip. Marie-Zette has a secret garden where she grows plants and vegetables from home.

We rushed through Vienna just so that we could spend an afternoon with them. And it was worth it!


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