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Heading North

While I was in Port-au-Prince, I stayed at the Best Western in Paiton-Ville (suburb of Port-au-Prince). The hotel was recommended to me by a number of folks who have friends and/or family in Port-au-Prince; so I booked there online using the BestWestern website. Checkin and checkout were a breeze despite the warnings that checkout can be delayed at peak times. The staff are very friendly and yes they do have hot water. It is basically a hotel in a busy city and the majority of the staff in the lobby speak English, there are even some ex-pats working there. The hotel has a shuttle and I highly recommend it.

I spent hours online researching my trip and I never realized that there are two terminals at the PAP airport. There is the Port-au-Prince Toussaint Louverture International Airport and the Guy Malary Airport which is the domestic terminal that is a good five plus minute taxi ride away from the international terminal. It is the same code for international and domestic flights.

Fortunately, I left my hotel at 9 for a noon flight and so I had plenty of time because I didn’t tell the shuttle driver that I was fliying to Cap Haitien, so he dropped me off at the international terminal. For those who are budget conscious, there is a bus service too but I was not up for 8 hour drive and would rather do the 35 minute flight, even if it does cost four times the price. Quite a few of the online articles said they had issues buying the tickets online in advance with a credit card. At the checkin counter, I gave them my record locator and they had no issues finding my reservation. I also had the receipt printed in backpack but didn’t need it.

The international terminal at the airport is pretty hectic and there are folks that will attempt to help you. Some of them don’t ask permission, they will either just take your bag when the taxi or shuttle stops or attempt to take it from your hands. I found the the airport guides to be well worth it and that they will not only will they guide you to the correct checkin counter but they will also by-pass some of the lines, which are looooonnnnggg. For me, getting past some of the lines was worth the $10. Yeah, they ain’t cheap but last time I checked, specialist knowledge never was. Think of it as supporting the local economy. The guides are easy to spot because they all wear similar colored shirts and during my visit a yellow shirt was taxi and blue shirts were the airport guides.

Navigating the Guy Malary  airport, used for flights to Cap Haitien, is much quieter the Sunrise checkin counters are on the left past the the single security check, which you will have to go through because it is just inside the door as you walk in. They will x-ray your bags and you will have to go through a metal detector. I was traveling with a Leatherman and pocket knife and a number of full water bottles that were packed in my backpack and bags; there were no issues. You are allowed one carry-on bag and they will tag it.

When I booked my flight on the Sunrise air website, there were two classes: economy and super economy and I was not able to find out what the differences were. For those that are asking the same question, here is as much as I have been able to garner. There is a private waiting room dedicated to the super-economy class with seats and power receptacles. The airport waiting area was clean with good airflow through the open windows and doors, although I’m sure it could get crowded at busy periods. I believe that super-economy also gets preferred seating but I was one of the first to checkin for a flight and so I don’t know. I was assigned a seat but some of the folks that boarded later on were told to just take an open seat because someone else had taken their seat. There were no separate lines and everyone just lines up to head out to the plane. The Sunrise website says that you are allowed a small carry-on and they do list the dimensions on their website, really small. I checked my duffel and chose to carry on my backpack, which meant I had to keep it on my lap for the 25 minute flight. The plane is super small and it wouldn’t fit under the seat. The plane is a small little turbo prop and when seated my knees barely missed the seat in front of me by a cm. Oh, yes it is hot in the plane when you board and so expect to sweat a bit.

I used AirBnB for a place to stay in Cap. My plan is to visit the Citadel before heading down south again and so I just wanted something that was clean, relatively secure and had hot water. The budget approach definitely worked out for me and the room is outside in the garden.  Everything worked out. 

The biggest surprise for me in Cap Haitien was the traffic. The roads are single dual roads with a liberal supply of potholes, speed bumps and the water drainage ditches. The town had traffic lights, two of them and neither one was operational.

I managed to get a photo of one those water gullies. This one was next to the side of the road and looks similar to lsome of the ones in the road. This photo was taken on the Route Nationale #1, Cap Haitien, Haiti. The gutters next to the road often continue through an intersection and some of these are monsters. I managed to get a closer look at one of the monsters. It was deeper than the length of my shoe (I wear a size 12) and at least two shoe lengths wide with sides that slopped at around a 45 degree angle. They are totally unpredictable and I was not able to predict when they would appear. I saw these monsters at four-way intersections, Y and T junctions. To me, they were designed while they were being built. I have asked the taxi and shuttle drivers and they just laughed.

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  1. Lorraine Mc Murdo
    February 11th, 2017 at 22:57 | #1

    So on your way… thanks for the blog info — interesting — x
    life is different outside the US …..

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