- Czechoslovakia on Haiti-
- unexpected beauty and relax
- interesting meetings and experiences
Alarm is set on 6am so we can hide all electronics or valuable things and be able to prepare for crowds of Haitians and policemen. We turn it off and continue sleeping :) Around 7:30 we finally get out of our cabin because the sun is too strong and is too hot inside.
In the bay are lots of fishermen (nobody is bothering us, they are fishing), beautiful mountains around us, ruins of some fortress and couple of houses. A small boat with “blanc” on board is approaching. Young symphatetic franchman Julian is on board – he is our contact person from Papy Joviav (we’ve imaged him much older. After small talk we move to mooring in front of his beach bar and get ashore (this is Haiti, normally only captain could go ashore before we are officially checked in by police).
We meet another frenchman Fred. The policemen come in half an hour – two young, casually dressed guys. They write our data from passports on a blank letter. They are kind and there is no search on the boat.
Before arriving to Haiti we read a book where the author describes Haiti very negatively. On this spot – Mole Saint Nicolas – he didn’t even stop because he was afraid of police bereaucracy and that people here are paranoid because of attack or invasion from Cuba. The only paranoid person is the author!
After a while we get breakfast – our normal Slovak thin pancakes with marmelade and chocolate, coffee, and a fresh juice… The view to the sea and two nice hosts – definitely the best place we’ve been during our travelling so far.
Julien shows us the bungalows and surroundings. Boukan Guingette was founded by 6 partners to support the employment in this 3000-people-town. 13 people are employed here (3rd biggest employer in the town after school and hospital:)), they buy only local products and sell only Haitian beer (for very good price) and also paintings of local artists. Simply a business for helping people not for gaining wealth.
In the afternoon we photograph it here, discover a 3 feet iguano, communicate with our parents, try fresh coco milk directly from the palm tree and enjoy this oasis of peace. They tell us that in the medical centre is one Slovak guy and a Czech girl. We drink soon a beer together. Michaela is a doctor from Prague – nice and cheerful girl who left husband and a son home and came here for 3 months to help (before she was in Uganda on a project like this). Rado is a logistic person on the project – his goal is to make Michaela happy :) and that the project runs smoothly. He studied the international developement and experienced India in similar project … nice, skillfull and great guy.
The medical center project here is supported by Slovak St. Elisabeth (sv. Alžbeta) University in Bratislava. It provides medical care which was missing here. We were loughing because on walls are pictures from Slovak magazine with texts in our language.
On the 3rd day we walk to the town which opens the unknown side of Haiti – dusty and rocky roads, animals on the streets (goats, donkeys, cows, roosters, chicken, … ) a lot of giant cactuses, crowds of children in different uniforms and special architecture of houses (small, curvy, colorful and charming). We greet everybody and most of them greet back. The children takes pictures on their mobile phone and laugh on our sandals. Everybody is nice and nobody is bothering us or begging. In the whole town are maybe 10 cars, much more motorcycles and a couple of bicycles. We are invited for lunch by the Czechoslovaks – Maki (their cook) pepared a real Haitian feast – platans, rice, salad, fish and conch (lanbi – monster from the shell) in sauce, coffee, bananas, maracuja, mango… great change after months of beans, rice or spaghetti on the boat :) Rado drives us back to our beach.
After sunset there are no much Haitians on the streets. The believe in Voodou and deamons, but there are also no street lights and in the last time there were couple of robberies in night. Police arrested four suspects yesterday and the locals took justice in their own hands and the crowd stoned two of them. According to last information is not sure if they were really the robbers, but who knows? Anyway we don’t need to walk on the streets during the night.
In the morning we meet IV and Wes. They are from organisation GOAdventure which organises adventure trips in developing 3rd world countries. The half of the fee goes to the organisation to support local projects. They visit orphanages, churches and meet locals during bicycling, hiking or running. They invite us to a trip to mountains in two days which we happily accept!. They don’t have spare bicycle but we can ride with them on a support truck.
In the meantime we snorkel around the boat and a wrack nearby where we discover rich underwater life full of colorful fishes and different corals. The blue fishes with yellow head are the most courageous and the flat ones with stripes hyperactive. We see also a snake. When returning to boat we see that our anchor chain rubs the corals and we are destroying this beauty. We dive and move it to more acceptable position. When we tell this to Joe he is more worried about the anchor line than about destroying the nature. For next visit of town we take more courage and also the camera but we don’t take many pictures because we don’t want to bother the people much. We walk the narrow side streets and we are a great attraction for the kids. We visit a ruine of a fortress with canons from 1850 and view to the whole bay. Back we walk on beach and through a national park full of different cactus trees (here they really need the spikes – not much grows in this dusty soil and the goats and other animals eat everything they can reach). For dinner we try a shark which was caught today morning. We get a big grilled piece of meat. It tastes great, juicy, exotic and there are no bones :)
In the morning we are wating ready for the cyclist in front of their hotel. We enter the back of a truck and enjoy the view to the bay which is getting better with the altitude. Approximately after an hour of pedaling uphill with a strong sun and heat two of the cyclist give up and we enthusiastically take their bikes. 10minutes uphill reminds us that we were doing nothing last months. I have feeling that my lungs must be much smaller – the beginning ouf our bicycle trip will be hard. On the flat road it becomes much more fun. We stop at a church (a tent-like construction from curvy wooden sticks with some cloth). After a short prayer IV explains what is going to happen: one guy from our group is an eye doctor and offered a surgery to the people for just 2 dollars. This is the first examination which determines the people which have the disease he can repair. In the meantime we speak with others from the group which are really in perfect shape (one girl ran 27 marathons, one guy finished more ironmans, other some 100km trail runs). After the examination the doctor sadly concludes that he made more people cry than happy. From 30 patients are only 3 who can go to surgery. On the way back we have to stop because the differential on the truck is broken – good reason for lunch :). The cyclist then continue and we wait for other truck. After return we go directly to Czechoslovaks, we drink Daiquiri and sleep at their place (the bed is so big that I don’t feel Jan is with me – really big difference to our small cabin on the boat).
We wake up with a loud goat baa, drink cofee for breakfast and Gimi – Rado’s and Miska’s fisherman – takes us for a trip to caves with his small sailing boat which can be changed to row boat in a short time. Boat crew is made from four of us, Gimi and his two sons and a translator who we didn’t ask for and who is not helping much to communicate. Me and Jan are amazed of the sail made from different clothes/blankets and blue jib made from unicef bag. There are no straight lines on the boat and nothing is modern – but this makes it nice and interesting. First we stop in a fishermen village. There are no houses made from bricks, just shelters from palm leaves. There is no fresh water here but a lot of fishermen with families live here seasonly. We make a short walk to a ruins of a fortress and a lighthouse which we were happy to see couple days ago. We try to explain to Gimi, that we want to see caves but the translator makes even more chaos and and we go fishing – Gimi is spearfishing and diving to 50feet for conchs. Me and Michaela jump to water to cool down and we are swiming for 20minutes around the boat. The way back is fast and the water sometimes pours to the boat above the edge (firts time is our translator useful – he pours the water out with a cup :)). Maki makes a great dinner for us from what Gimi caught.
The next days are relaxing – with Julian we drink different rums with fruits, cyclist are leaving, we successfully shop tomatoes at the market, Michaela and Rado visit Dove and we prepare them boatfood – risotto, we tear the mooring line (luckily there was also an anchor), we meet another people helping in Haiti, watch the movie Across the Universe (we recommend!), finally buy flight tickets – 15.2. to Cuba and 16.3. to Mexico and my parents announce us that they will not go to Cuba! This totally changes our only plan which looked like it will work – we learn that it is better to not plan and if plan then await a change in plans. Whole day we spend looking for ways how to get the bicycles from home. It is not sure if we get them when we send them to Cuba and if they will not ask for more money (taxes). Send them to Haiti could be easier but there is no way how to get them to Cuba afterwards. Send them to Mexico is the best solution but we don’t know anybody and don’t have any address there and we want to bicycle on Cuba…
Our mood is bad and we decide to support our creativity with some rum (it may look we are alcoholics, but that is not true:)). We don’t even open the bottle and we find a great solution: we will buy bicycles on Cuba – some local ones, old but working!
The next day we make a trip to the caves. Julien books us a moto taxi (for three:)) and we go on this dusty offroads to 45 minutes distant village. We meet the guide and also with some kids we go to the first cave. There are two entrances. First is only a dark small hole under a rock where is needed to crawl (I choose this option – at the end it is not so much fun because the space around is getting smaller and there are lots of warms at the ground next to my face). The second entrance is normal (Jan chooses this one – at least somebody is smart). Inside of this cave is really roomy, there is slippery mud on the ground and there are onnly a couple of stalagnites and stalagnates. We are really happy we brought our headlamps, because with their small lights on phones we couldn’t even see the ground under our feet (we think that this is maybe the first time for some local kids to really see what is in the cave). We meet there many children with water jars who barefoot without lights continue to a smaller hole at one side of the cave. There is a good drinkable water spring inside. We need to walk approx 30 minutes to the second cave. It is much smaller but there is much more decoration inside (all english commentary from our guide was: this is stalagnite, this is stalactite) and there are many bats flying around our heads (in french: bold mouse). Interesting is one stalagnate with nice sound if you tap it. We thank to our guide and locals and go back. I have the most dirty clothes from all the people :)
Early in the morning we pack our backpack and go to the mountains. We successfully find the right turns on the trail and enjoy the number of different gigantic cactus trees and the perfect view down. Without any complications we get to the top of first hill – a flat – but looks impossible to find a way to the another. We walk more than hour on different trails but all of them end at some shed or somebody’s garden. All honor to those who are able to grow anything on this dry dusty rocky soil. We start to be hungry and tired so we return back with the same steep trails.
Back in the bar we meet the guys from Papy Jovial. Joe wants to join them on the way to further south and they want to go tonight. This information is surprising but we are glad to move again and to see other parts of Haiti. We say goodbye to Czechoslovaks, French, print the flighttickets and at 9pm we pull the anchor.
Good bye Mole Saint Nicolas, these 12 days here were great and it was suprisingly nice welcoming to the country. We recommend this part of Haiti to everybody who wants to experience something new, exotic and real but still safe!
Moon and stars are shining. Very often we get caughts in fishermans’ traps lines and we need even to cut one of them. Papy Jovial passes us and with the sunrise is behind the horizon. We catch him next day when we take a shortcut around a coral reef (with our shallow draft it is not dangerous). The land along the coast is full of mountains – the saying that “Behind mountains are more mountains” is really true here. We meet just couple of small fishing boats and one bigger freighter but mostly we are alone in the see. We tie to mooring at 3pm. We are tired but looking forward for new experiences…