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Heading South

Today was a day of travel and I had to be at the wharf in Les Ceyes to meet the water taxi for the trip to Ile-a-Vache. Basically, from the north of the country to the south. The airport runways in Les Ceyes were destroyed by the earthquake and so the only option is by road.  OK,, for those with heavily lined pockets, there are helicopters. I was originally planning on taking a bus from Port-au-Prince but the majority of them leave earlier than my flight lands or later in the afternoon. So my options were to spend a night in Port-au-Prince or take the transport that the hotel arranged. An option that I didn’t think of was to spend a night in Les Ceyes and in retrospect, this would have been a good one because the town looks very colorful and Caribbean.

So, an early morning rise to head to the airport. My AirBnB room was approximately 35 minutes from the airport but just over 15 minutes without traffic. The town looks a lot different without so many people around.I was fortunate enough to encounter a phenomenal taxi driver when I arrived and he was there to pick me up at 6:30 AM. So he picked my up right in the middle of his church service which started at 6. Super nice of him. For those looking for a great driver in Cap Haitien, here are his details: Jean Charles +509 3443 6249.

We arrived at the airport terminal early and I had to wait for them to open. Again the airport guide took me straight through for a $ tip. I was the only person in the terminal at one stage because of his help.
The airport layout is more along the lines of what I’m used to with with the checkin counters up front and then the security check. This terminal supports both domestic and international flights. I set the metal detector off because I had forgotten to take my Fitbit off but the staff were super friendly and just had me go through again.
There is a single waiting area and again it was clean with a couple of mosquitoes that paid the ultimate price in their search for protein. They should’ve stayed vegetarian like their males counterparts.

I was chatting with a lady from Cuba and she knew one of the pilots and they had a conversation in Spanish and I assume they are from Cuba too. It seems this is the primary airline  between Haiti and Cuba. On this flight, I was not assigned a seat but it is pretty easy to see when they’re going to board and everyone is friendly, with one loud exception, yes he was American. The Cuban lady had some great choice words in Spanish, when he pushed in, called him a donkey preceded with some rather non-complementary, yet descriptive terms. We both started started chuckling when she realized that I had heard what she had mumbled.

This time when I boarded, the ground crew said I can put my backpack in the luggage area at the back of the plane. The funny piece is that should I have done that, it would have been on top of my duffel bag. The flight from Cap Haitien to Port-au-Prince was 32 minutes and for the majority of the flight we were flying over clouds which cleared up when we came in on approach to Port-au-Prince.
I almost forgot to share that you need to present the baggage checkin slip you received when you you checkin your bag. They will keep both tags it and give you your bag. I had this happen on both legs of the domestic flight but not the international leg and so I assume it is to prevent bag theft.

I used the hotel transport from the airport in Port-au-Prince to the the wharf in Les Ceyes. The driver, Fritz, is very proud that he can make the drive in three hours instead of the normal four. I am typing up this blog post as the little Suzuki Grand Vitara

Tap-tap @80hm/h

hurtles down the road at over 140 km/h. Then he’s hard on the brakes to avoid pot holes, water ditches, pedestrians, oncoming traffic  or tap-taps.

It’ll be taking the bus back to Port-au-Prince!

The further we get out from the bigger cities, the tap-taps change. They are less colorful and almost exclusively motorcycle or pickup based. Some of the pickups also don’t have canopies on them, just a metal railing system to help support the folks standing in the back. As we whipped past one I managed to count 12 people and I think I was only through half done counting.

I was met by one of the hotel staff at the wharf and we jumped into the water taxi. I was pretty excited by this because I had seen these boats being used by the fisherman in Cap Haitien. The Caribbean is beautiful. The irony for me is that the water color is very similar to water runoff from the Alps, just with an approximate 30 degree Celcius temperature difference. When I read the reviews for the hotel, there were many complaints about the boat and I can see that it can be a challenge for those with injuries, physical handicaps or the elderly. I enjoyed the experience, even as the guy behind me bailing water out of the boat because at times the water was a little choppy and so there Spray coming over the gunwales.

The resort is sooooooo worth it!!! I looked at quite a few places to stay on the island and contacted them. It helps that I got a good deal because it was a quiet period, which made it affordable. Ketura responded to all of my questions with the patience of Mother Theresa. She was very diligent and followed up with me numerous times to ensure that I was still on schedule and arranged all my transport to the hotel. She was waiting for me on the wharf and the staff call her “The Boss”, even in front her. I really didn’t know what to expect. I had seen the photos on the website but I’ve learned never to believe travel photos. As the water taxi rounded the horn, there was a gorgeous bay and then they started heading into the bay, I realized it was the resort. Wow!! Picturesque.

Jean met us at the boat jetty of the hotel, welcomed me and then gave me tour around before taking me to my room. There is a swamp at the back of the hotel and so the

Lunch

mosquitoes are around when there isn’t a breeze to control them. I’m glad that I brought a monster supply a anti-bug stuff. He was initially very surprised when I switched off the air conditioner and opened the doors and windows with bug screens so that I could hear the waves.

They had prepared a late lunch that was awesome!! And then there was the view from the table on the beach. I decided to come to Ile-a-Vache based on all of the recommendations from my Haitien friends and I’m glad that I did!

 

 

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