The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Special Dispatch: Hotel Montana, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Hotel Montana
Rue Frank Cardozo
6119 Port-au-Prince
(509) 229-40.00
Breakfast served daily 6am – 10.30am

by Nelson Griddle

Port-au-Prince, capital of the tiny Caribbean republic of Haiti, is a rough old town.

It might be a few decades now since Papa Doc terrorized the land with machete-wielding thugs and voodoo curses, but the Foreign Office still advises British Citizens against all but essential travel here, and only the UN troops patrolling the streets with machine-guns stop the place descending into chaos.

Not that you’d know it in Hotel Montana. Here amid the overhead fans, lazily-swaying palms and the trickle of a chi-chi waterfall, there’s a sense of isolated privilege you could cut with a butter knife.

But I know what you’re thinking: never mind the security situation or the sense of grotesque inequality, what are the breakfasts like?

Well, the two words “breakfast buffet” might cause your heart of sink, but the groaning boards at Montana include such tropical delights as mango, pineapple, melon and some top-notch grapefruit juice, plus a phalanx of fragrant croissants.

I order scrambled eggs with bacon – both perfect, albeit pointlessly embellished with a slice of tomato and sprig of parsley. And there’s an unaccustomed sight for those who’ve been breakfasting in England for too long: ashtrays on the tables. Yes, you might not be able to walk the streets in safety in Port-au-Prince, but you can enjoy an after-breakfast cigarette. I’ll leave it to HM Government to advise on which is the more dangerous option.

The drawbacks? Well, the coffee is a bit on the cool side, and, for this hardened caffeine addict at least, in perpetually short supply.

And then there’s the guilt. The bill comes to $8.80 – less than a fiver in these days of the plummeting greenback, but to most of the people trying to scrape a living in Port-au-Prince’s slums, it stacks up to more than a week’s wages.

And there was me feeling hard done by, only getting two cups of coffee with my breakfast.


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