Haiti from the other side

From the north to the south, from the drought to the green, from the poor to the rich and to even more dense population

We are tied to the mooring and cook a big pot of spaghetti. We are listening loud terrible tuc-tuc music from the shore (two different from neighbouring bars). After the meal we go to Papy Jovial boat, where are some more people: Max, Babeth, Lee and his girlfriend. We drink beer, Bernard (captain of Papy Jovial) speaks about The brotherhood of the coast, his journeys and experiences. For a while a German journalist is on the board who interviews some of us in 5 minutes and we cannot imagine what outcome can be from this chaotic questions. Then we move to Richards house (we park the boat in front of it) – he became a new member of the brotherhood today.

Brotherhood of the coast – is a worldwide organisation with approx 3000 members. It’s like a couchsurfing with boats and limited amount of people which help each other like a family. Once a year they have a worldwide meeting somewhere what is a good reason to travel.
Bernard explanation of BotC: Brotherhood of the coast is a highly disorganised group of people who are interested in seafaring, don’t have any rules and who are connected by the love to the sea.

There is a nice smell of grilled fish, octopus and goat. We are speaking with interesting guys from Italy and Germany who work for German government organisation supporting the development of Haiti. They’ve travel a lot but they are rather disappointed here – the cooperation with locals is ineffective, the qualification of educated people is low and nobody is on time. We stayed as the latest awake and discuss with Richard.

The next day we make humans of us again – I cut Jan’s hair, we have a shower, wash clothes… In this new body and after a good lunch we go with Richard to Port-au-Prince to get the Cuban visa. Richard is a great driver but we are not very calm seeing him drinking beer while driving :). As we approach the capital there are more and more cars on the road. Roads here are mainly for cars – which one is bigger, horns more or who has stronger nerves has the right of way. Motorcycles and walking people have to clear a road to the side path which is often narrow and with many holes. Horning, high traffic, thousands of people, people selling something everywhere, tons of trash and everything moving – a real human jungle.

At the travel agency is not possible to get the visa, because we don’t have flight tickets from them and we need to go to the embassy (which is now – 12:30 – already closed). After we tell the lady that we are on our honeymoon we need to listen next 5minutes how nice are the romantic hotels in Jacmel where we definitely should go! Our hotel Dove is the best – alarm every morning (in cold weather it is dropping water, in hot weather it is sauna), greenish walls and small bed where we need to love each other even more… :)

We continue to Richards house in the hill. Last 50meters of steep road could be advertised as a adrenaline off-road ride. The house itself is not finished, but there are many nice painting on the walls and the view from the terrace is great – whole Port-au-Prince under us…

BTW: Who is Richard? Sympathetic, educated and rich Haitian from a good family (his grandfather was president of Haiti). It is unbelievable, that we met somebody from the top society and who is so friendly, helpful and a great guy :)

Most of the way back is in the dark. Every car uses high beam lights and don’t switch if there is anybody coming. In PaP we avoid the traffic jam through side roads. Richard is a very good driver and he is able to multitask better than women: he is driving, smoking, drinking beer, talking with Joe and to the phone :)

The next morning we go to discover the surrounding. We walk on the beach and then through the fields around cows to a fishing village. The road ends at a wide dry river basin with a lot of trash. On the way back we see small like three years old girl carrying a big water bottle – there is difference in activities of children here and in our country.

In the evening we visit Max and Babeth in their big house on big property with lot of bananas and five dogs. Joe is telling he can drive in Haiti and becomes the driver for Babeth to PaP the next day. With Richard we go to PaP this evening (to go to Cuban embassy tomorrow) – everybody with a beer in hand. Everybody is already sleeping in his house. There are no towels or toilet paper in the bathroom but we find like 10 condoms under the pillow. We sleep well till some kind of chicken in the backyard starts to make loud and continuous noises and we cannot understand why it is still alive :). Besides that there are many mosquitoes around us and in the morning I count 34 bites just on my right arm (generally if I’m not protected by repellent and wearing long sleeves covering all body I’m like a repellent for Jan because all the mosquitoes bite just me).

The Cuban embassy is located in a rich district in Petit ville. Next to it on a steep slope grows a slum from many houses – all the people from downtown which was destroyed during the earthquake moved here, because they think it is safer here, because the houses here were not so damaged (but probably just because they were build better). The government tried to stop building these thousands of houses built on each other but the grow was faster than the demolition.

The guy in embassy is very nice, but we realize we don’t understand much from what he is talking about (17 lessons of our Spanish audio book wasn’t probably enough:)). We get the visa in 15minutes and pay just 15usd.

The next is embassy of Dominican republic where Richard needs to wait almost 1 hour and pays 120usd (that’s why so many Haitians live in DR unofficially).

Richard drives us to the bus station, he finds the bus, gives the instructions to the driver and arranges everything – even the places in the front of the bus (we really don’t feel now like independent travellers). It is more than 20minutes till we move. In this time there are plenty of people knocking on the windows trying to sell something. First we think that it is very annoying, but then we realize that this is the normal way of shopping. The driver puts the radio loud, but the playlist consist of 3songs is switching Celine Dion and Whitney Houston during all way. We are nicely surprised, that couple of times he stops to let people to cross the road and gives way to the motorbikes. Despite the instructions we need to stop the driver at the turn to our “home” (at least we are able to arrange a little of the travelling by ourselves).

Next morning we go to Leogane. This town was one the most damaged after the earthquake. We stop first tap-tap (the name comes from the way how you announce that you want to stop – you tap twice: tap tap:)). These buses are mostly brightly painted with religious themes and with really affordable price. In Leogane bus station is a crowd of moto taxi offering us a ride – we refuse all of them and walk. There is a big reconstruction going on the streets. We are able to see some houses with still visible damage (the whole town probably looked like that and worse after the catastrophe). The streets are full of people and many sell something. Our tries to buy something must look funny because we don’t know the creole number very well… but we are able to finally buy the mangoes! (Joe talks about them since October). We talk with one guy who has been here for more than 2 years and helps to keep the churches running. He lives with his wife and 2 children in one orphanage. He gives us a tip where to buy some food – nice guy.

After some time we find a restaurant with 2 tables and some food. We order one meal and get two (we can understand that with our ability to speak creole:)). The soup is great, but rice is dry and the meat not very good. And the price – 550gourdes! Normally one meal is 100, but that is our fault that we didn’t ask at the beginning how much it is…

On the way back there are 22 other people squeezed in the tap-tap plus 3 at the driver. This is really economical travelling. In the afternoon we take a ride on the motorboat with Lee (we still cannot believe we are in such a society) and talk a little at Max place.

In the next days we write articles, walk many times to the market, buy local food, contact the Slovaks in Jacmel, we loose towel in a rainy and windy storm, we dive for the towel next day, pack our stuff, I make a fireshow for Richard’s son Allan and we go hunting birds…

The hunting group consists of Richard, two other friends in camouflage outfits, other helping guys in flip-flops and us in shiny color T-shirts and big boots. We drive to the mountains in the back of a pick-up truck – with the wind in our hair – a little dangerous but great! The hunting is just a pleasant walk in the nice nature at the beginning. The gun carrier guy throws stones to the bushes awaiting something to fly out of there. First shoot hits the bird. I have a feather in my hair and Jan carries the victim. Next one adds in 15minutes… we are wet from sweating from running the slopes up and down. We get also one living trophy – they just tear the feathers so it cannot fly away and during this they broke the wing of this poor bird. I don’t understand why they don’t kill it and let it suffer like this, but the answer is: it cannot be more fresh like this… Now I don’t like the hunting anymore! Yes, we eat meat and we know that the animals need to die but NO, they shouldn’t suffer! I ask one of local kid to kill it. He turns 3times its neck and after a 10second shaking it’s head hangs without a movement. I’m not sure if I can talk about humanity here, but I feel a little better after this. This walking in mountains ends at the dark – this 3 hours exercise was really exhausting! We meet the rest of the group with 5 kills and with the wind in the hair we go back.

Late that evening the Slovaks from Jacmel come and we discuss the tomorrow trip to the west…


3 Replies to “Haiti from the other side”

  1. … sranda ze v Nepale sa ich “tap-tapy” pohynaju na 2 buchy a na jeden prave zastavuju. Vidno ze je to na opacnej strane zeme.

  2. Caute; konecne sa dostavam na net. Vyuzivam chvilu, kedy konecne maju po 5 hodinach a litru a pol tekutin zmohla potreba ist na koniec vagona. Cita totiz vas blog cely od zaciatku. A ked sa jej spytam, o com prave cita, ma len zrusi, ze teraz nemoze, lebo je to napinave. :)

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