When I open my eyes in the grey light that filters through my window slats just before dawn, I usually hear a few hummingbirds buzzing past my shutters. The noise of their tiny wings is surprisingly loud, a rich hum that sounds mechanical in its loopy whirring. These birds — the “Hispaniolan emerald,” or wanga nègès mòn — are tiny, the smallest hummingbirds I have ever seen, and they are drawn to the small yellow flowers outside my window. Like everything on MPP’s campus, they are mostly green. Often I confuse them with the “Antillean mango,” or wanga nègès fran, a sapsucker with appetites akin to those of the Hispaniolan emerald. The similar nomenclature suggests that I’m not the only one to do so.
This is the creole pig, or kochon kreyol, a small, hardy, long-snouted animal introduced to the island of Hispaniola in the Columbian exchange, and now prevalent across Haiti. Between 1984 and 1987, however, the species did not exist in the country.