Hundreds of papier-mache creatures wait for their debut in the streets. A half-dozen enormous crickets lay on their sides. Pharaohs and presidents are upside-down on the rubble. Diabolical masks, with faces as big as cars, sleep peacefully. In a shady town square, a dragon, 45 feet long, is covered under sheets.
Jacmel is the heart of Haiti's weeks-long Carnival celebration. Artists took a hit when last year's festivities were canceled just after the Jan. 12 earthquake. This year, the recovering city has a modest budget of $250,000 to support dozens of groups and hundreds of artisans. But most papier-mache artists, including many father-son teams, do it for love.
Though Haiti's tourism industry still is struggling, the country's cultural identity and heritage is considered a key to reconstruction. This week, the residents of Jacmel focused on constructing intricate paper masks and creatures -- often scary, but mostly beautiful icons of the imagination. Click through the gallery below to see some highlights.