Not far from where I've stayed in Fond Verrettes on past visits, in the quartier of Bois Neuf, a trail runs along the top of a ravine. Most everyone in Bois Neuf lives on the high terrace above the ravine, but there is one house on the other side of the trail, part way down into the ravine. I'd half assumed this house was abandonded until this past week when one of my interviews turned out to be at this house. Its occupant is an elderly woman, just widowed not more than a few days past. Perhaps I should have left her in peace, but it wasn't at first clear to me how recently she'd been widowed and I went ahead with the interview. As soon as I'd gone down the steep path leading to her house on a small ledge overlooking the ravine she began talking quickly. It became clear that one problem she had, among many, was that her house was currently occupied by zombies. Zombies? I questioned. Yes, she said. After someone dies there will be zombies around the house. Of course I'd heard of zombies but I didn't realize they were a consideration in a "normal" death. Or perhaps her husband's death wasn't normal, but I assume he also was elderly and died of age. She explained that people can be called upon to come to the house and, through prayer, exhort the zombies to leave. Her problem was that she hadn't been able to get anyone to come pray. Well, I asked, Why can't you yourself pray that the zombies leave? Ah, she said, I am an Evengelical. We can't exhort zombies. So far as I can understand, she was an Evangelic Protestant with a Catholic (or Voudun) problem on her hands. She couldn't deny there were zombies inhabiting the house, but as a good Evangelical Christian she also couldn't exhort that which her church didn't believe in.
In the interview, one of the questions is How many people live in your house? She shook her head and sadly said that she alone lived there. (Living alone in Haiti is rare and often considered almost tragic, a sort of poverty of spirit or community and something no one would ever desire.) With a gleam in my eye I followed up the question with another: And just how many zombies live here with you? She laughed good-naturedly and gave me a sly, knowing look.