I had my first excursion to the beach last week which took a little convincing to go. Sleeping under a tent is not something that you willingly choose to do in Haiti. I went with a friend, Becca, who is also volunteering in Haiti, and her group of volunteers, who had made this trip before. The beach was probably as remote as you can get well besides the mysterious Frenchman who lives in his yacht. I took my first Haitian transportation, a tap tap, which is a pickup truck, with seating in the back. The nicer ones, have a covering, some cushioning, and are brightly painted. The more rustic have wooden planks set up in the bed of the truck. The question of the day is How many Haitians can you squeeze into one tap tap. I’ve seen twenty. Another game is what’s the most important part of a Haitian car and try to figure out how many your car has- is it the brakes, mirror, the horn. For me, it’s the horn because it’s Haitian car communication. You might not be able to brake but you can give people a beep in advance especially important if you’re driving in the mountains. Before we left, we went to a grocery store, which is weird to go into an American style grocery store in Haiti with actual store aisles with marked prices and a cash register. Im used to going to the street markets with the sisters with piles of fish here, women sellling limes, on the top of their heads and where prices can change and be bargained. I did find a bottle Aunt Jemima syrup which I bought for the Sisters. The drive from Cap Haitian to Labadie is a dirt paved road zigzagging through the mountains with breathtaking views of mountains, cliffs, and blue sea. I just made sure my eyes were on the vista and not the road. As we went down the last descent to the beach near Labadie, I noticed guard rails with a marked improvement in the road and not near so much trash. Also there was a strange wire, not electric, going down the mountain. Well as I soon discover that is part of the zipline for the Royal Carribean beach in Labadie, which feels like a faraway Neverland from the world outside its chain-linked fences. Through the eight-foot high fence, you can see lounge chairs, jetskis, boats, huge inflatable toys. We were on the other side and took a Haitian water taxi, which are rickety wooden boats covered with tin. On each post of the covering was painted an inspiring word, wisdom, hope, love except for the last one in the back which was painted, boat driver, designating his seat. After a twenty minute boat ride, we landed into a little beach cover, which also is obviously used by Royal Carribean including the Bamboo Bar and a Haitian cultural stroll. A mysterious frenchman lives on his yacht there for about three months of the year and a group of Haitians stay and take care of the beach. The beach was absolutely stunning with crystal blue water, cliffs and mountains in the background, and coral reefs. It’s like a tropical Italy. After soaking in some tropical sun and lounging on the beach for two days, I felt refreshed and ready to return to my kids on Sunday.
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