It’s a question we are asked quite often. Right up there with, “Where’s Burundi?”
There’s your answer to the first question. It’s a small country that not everyone has heard about. “Why Burundi,” will require a longer answer.
We’ve worked with other cultures, kids with PTSD, “orphans” and true orphans, organizations that assist with adoption, and organizations that try to prevent the need for it. All of those experiences have led to this decision.
We knew we wanted to find a country and agency that was Hague certified and that had some framework that allowed for ethical adoptions. Burundi is a country that’s new to international adoption and set out with some of this framework. While no country is perfect when it comes to adoption (the US included), we truly believe there’s still a place for it when done well. Adoption ethics is not something we take lightly and it’s something that I continually stress about if I’m honest.
We also knew that we wanted to pick a country to which we had a connection. It’s really important to us that our child(ren) stay connected to their culture.
Josh can speak some conversational French and I’m (very slowly and poorly) attempting to learn Kirundi which I continually mix up with the little Spanish, Swahili, and Haitian Creole that I know.
We also have a lot of friends in Nashville from Burundi and surrounding countries in the region. I mentor a little girl whose mom is from Burundi and she is teaching me to cook regional food. There are churches nearby with Burundian/Congolese/Rwandan congregations too! All in all, we have the ability to maintain a connection to this culture and country which is so important to us.
In a nutshell, adoption is complex and loaded with trauma. Our hope and goal is to honor that as much as possible.
Long story short, we are still at Joyce Lane Farms, alive and well.
We are still in a neighborhood of friends, milking Margot, collecting eggs, traveling, and doing life. JLF has an AirBnb now since Casey & Savannah found a new, amazing place thanks to realtor- extroadinairre, Josh.
I logged into this blog the other day (after stalking some other blogs) and realized people are still coming across it strangely enough. I’m sure it’s people who are either doing the hike in Haiti or googled a random boat question.
As annoying as blogs can be, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. Not always the fancy-pants, bougie blogs, but the ones that show you step-by-step photos of how to clean an Atomic 4 carb. When we bought the sailboat, I lived and breathed those blogs. Real life stories that showed the sunset cocktails on the water, but also the flipside of the same coin. They were a lifeline.
We aren’t buying another boat, but I’ve been living and breathing another kind of blog for years as well now. Even before the boat, I was wrapping myself up in the lives of adoptive families knowing that would be a road we walked down at some point. Well, some point has become right now.
We spent much longer than necessary filling out mounds of forms, learning to fold fitted sheets for our homestudy (which was completely unnecessary), and fighting with Williamson County, Tennessee over paperwork. Now (no thanks to Williamson Co.) all of that paperwork is halfway around the world in Burundi. We are approved for 2 kids between the ages of 0-5 and have NO IDEA who they are or when we will bring them home. It could be 6 months, it could be 5 years. It could be one kid, it could be two. It could be twins or boys or girls or both. We are living in a world of unknowns but we’re excited about this next adventure.
Thus, this blog is getting a bit of a new lease on life. I’ve taken a lot of information and advice from the blog world, and while The Tinii are neither bougie nor fancy, hopefully, if the right person happens to land here, we can give back a tiny bit of insight. If not, may you at least be entertained.
Once upon a time, we moved into a little house on Joyce Lane. We were happy there but a bit lonely. One day, being my nosy curious self, I noticed the coroner’s van pulling in the driveway across the street (didn’t see that coming did you). It turns out that our neighbor had passed away. We’d never met him because he was sort of paranoid (more about that in a minute). The house went up for sale and not long after came new neighbors. Again, I was so nosy kind that I thought we should go over and meet our new neighbors.
I actually didn’t get to meet the neighbors that night, but I did met their mom who was helping them move in. Her name was Jeana and she got my phone number in case her boys (who were moving in) needed anything. The next day, I did meet “the boys.” Klint and Kyle were brothers from Texas and if there’s such a thing as neighbor soul mates – the Stallons Brothers were that for us.
Within the week, we had an awesome party that involved lots of coming and going between our houses to see the multiple panic rooms and storm shelters installed by the previous owner (remember the paranoia) and we ended the night street luging down Joyce Lane.
It was neighbor-love at first party and has been that way ever since. Until Klint decided to move back to Texas AND take my his dog Dale and break all of our hearts. Kyle is still with us so….whatever KLINT. We still consider him a founding JLF member though so here it goes…
Everything You Need To Know About the Stallons Brothers
What You Need To Know About Kyle:
Kyle was unequivocally the cutest child ever. He grew up to be pretty cute too…
Before he kills me, let me post a real picture…
Kyle is a great neighbor to have – the kind that tells you where his spare key is and doesn’t get mad when you use that knowledge to have dance parties in his basement. He hosts the poultry division of Joyce Lane Farms and runs Joyce Lane Farms Studios because he is a musician and songwriter (betcha didn’t know there was a STUDIO on Joyce Lane Farms). He is a really, really good musician and you should check him out. He and Klint used to play downtown on Sundays before Klint killed our JLF happiness by moving.
Kyle is also a really great whistler and dancer. Seriously, you NEVER knew a good ‘ol former high school football MVP from Texas could dance like this. Also, Captain refers to him as Uncle Kyle.
What you need to know about Klint:
Klint moved back to Texas and took Dale and I’ll never forgive him for it.
He sort of looks like American Jesus in that picture. Right?
Klint is was an integral part of the poultry division of JLF. When we wanted chickens, Klint was pretty easily convinced this was a good idea and let us use his yard. He was also a really valuable tomato farmer. Last year, he grew approximately 5billion tomatoes with little to no effort while our side of Joyce Lane grew like three. We burned with jealous rage but didn’t hesitate to eat all the tomatoes while he was on tour. Speaking of touring, Klint plays the fiddle (which also makes me jealous). Hearing Klint play “Calling Baton Rouge” at Second Fiddle was a weekly highlight of mine but that joy is dead…..Thanks, Klint.
So that’s the Stallons Brothers in a nutshell.
Tune in next time for information on the Saunders Satellite Ranch.
So, you know us. We are The Tinii – Josh and Allison. Obviously we are a part of JLF.
However, there are quite a few other “farmers” on our little slice of country life in the city. It all started when we were moving to Haiti and two of our best friends, Casey and Savannah, decided to rent the upstairs of our house. When they did, they also decided to get chickens with the guys across the street (you’ll meet them later). Chickens obviously mean you live on a farm. Thus, the first use of “Joyce Lane Farms.”
When we knew we were coming back from Haiti, Josh and I decided that we would move into the basement apartment to save money and do some repairs that needed to be finished. The girls were fine with that too. We knew Casey and Savannah from church and also knew that we had a shared desire to live communally with other people. Not in a creepy hippie commune kind of way, but just in an intentional hey-let’s-do-life-together way.
So, it happened.
Casey and Savannah are a blast. They run a blog/brand called Hey Wanderer. Casey is a nurse and Savannah works on Hey Wanderer full time. They’re both big dreamers and we get a long really well. Plus we all think brinner is the most important meal of the day. It’s like our Breakfast At Tiffany’s…it’s that one thing we have if everything falls apart.
What you need to know about Casey:
Casey loves waffles more than almost anything. She loves Jesus and her dogs more than waffles but waffles are up there. If you need someone to convince you to do something you really want to do RIGHT THIS SECOND, Casey will be that person. When we talked about wanting chickens she had looked up a Craigslist ad and called the lady and told her we were on our way faster than you can say, “Casey loves waffles.” She is a good person to get advice from because she’s super honest. She wishes she could be Stevie Nicks and tried to have a puppy party for her last birthday. She hates going to the grocery store almost as much as she hates Monsanto – and that’s a lot. If Casey had a spectrum of love-hate, it would look like this…. Jesus – Whitt and Winston – waffles – all the stuff in between – going to the store – Monsanto – Satan himself.
What you need to know about Savannah:
Savannah is half Mexican and she introduced me to something called migas and I love her for it, but she doesn’t speak Spanish so there’s that. Savannah’s head is Pinterest-famous. She has this one hair tutorial that I’ve seen no less than 50 bagillion times. You’ve probably seen it too.
Savannah gets s*** done. For real – she’s a boss and I’m convinced she can do anything. She can sew kimonos, dye hair, build chicken coops, and make migas. She doesn’t mind going to the store which means she’s always going to the store because Casey hates it. Savannah has never, ever affectionately touched Casey’s dog Whitt (can’t blame her). Not even a pat on the head. She’s from Texas and writes music as well as makes clothes for a living which is amazing. She has the best hair in all the world and I’m super jealous of it. Josh probably is too if we’re honest.
For awhile after Haiti, life didn’t seem exciting enough to blog about. Let’s be honest – just buying groceries in Port-au-Prince is an adventure. It was a strange time in life because we didn’t have a plan.
But not having a plan worked out.
As you know, we moved back to Joyce Lane Farms. Josh has gotten his real estate license because it’s something he’s always been interested in and ….why not? I got a job working for a company called Eventbrite. I work in customer service and I love it! It’s a fantastic company and I get to work from home. Win, win.
So, we have these flexible, awesome job situations and we’re living with some of our best friends. The four of us have this dream of living communally and it sort of just happened. As you may know, we share chickens with our friend across the street, Kyle (dang you Klint for moving back to Texas). Then, some of our other closest friends moved down the road. It started getting more and more “communal.”
And Joyce Lane Farms became for farmlike.
We have a pretty decent garden, a few chickens, and this summer we had bees (they since died but we’re trying again in the Spring). Then came Margot.
For Christmas, Josh got me a pet goat named Margot (yes, they’re legal but require a permit…which we are getting). She is a dairy goat so we’ll probably milk her late summer/early fall. So now, what started as a joke became legit. We have all of the beginnings of an urban farm, y’all. Not to mention the girls make a clothing line called Hey Wanderer and we help some friends with selling artisan goods from Haiti. Maybe someone called us Wal-Mart for hipsters once. Come get your goat cheese, kimonos, and fair trade artisan goods here, guys.
So somehow we fell into this big dream of living communally and with less assistance from “the man.” Not having a plan turned out to be pretty sweet. Next up….meet the members of Joyce Lane Farms.
In May we finished up our time with New Hope Haiti Mission. After quite a few teary goodbyes, we hopped on a plane back to the land of hot showers and overpriced cocktails. The days of $2 Rum Punches, beaches, and sitting in traffic for hours on end are behind us. It’s bittersweet.
“So what now?” you might ask. Well, we’re asking the same thing. We aren’t coming back to any solid plans or jobs. The primary reason for moving back is to save up money to adopt in the near future. The one thing we know for sure we’re coming back to is Joyce Lane Farms.
Before we left, some very close friends of ours rented the upstairs of our house (there is the main living area along with a basement apartment). About a week before the move, these friends convinced our other friends across the street, Klint and Kyle, that we should all get chickens and put them in their backyard because Josh is vehemently against chickens in ours. They were duped graciously agreed and from that moment on the two houses were called Joyce Lane Farms because apparently you only need a few chickens to constitute being called a farm.
Fast forward to now. So, the girls are actually staying in the house and we are moving into the basement apartment. Some more friends of ours moved in down the street increasing the population to eight. We also now have bees and a pretty legit gardening situation going on. It’s starting to feel like a hippie commune/farm which is basically my dream in life.
In short, we don’t have jobs or concrete plans – but we have friends and chickens and bees and lots of dogs (Whitt, Winston, Captain, Dale, Wanda, and Dave to be exact). If you’re in Nashville, stop by and say hello!
When people think of Haiti, they think of Port-Au-Prince during the earthquake. Port-Au-Prince is one giant mess. The traffic is indescribable, it smells horrific, and there is a lot of poverty everywhere. The good news is that Port is one city in the whole, entire country. We already blogged about the magical city of Cap-Haitien, but there is another city that is just as magical. Way back in 2010, we first laid eyes on Haiti. It was only three months after the earthquake and things were still crazy sad. Even then, however, Jacmel felt special. Fast forward four years and up the special level by at least a hundred and you’ve got Jacmel today. Side note: If you don’t want my whole “why Jacmel is magical” thing then skip to the summary at the end.
Port-Au-Prince can get you down for sure. Then you go to Jacmel and you swell with hope for what Haiti could be. There’s a lot of development going on, including this artsy little boardwalk.
Jacmel is an extremely artsy town. If Haiti had hipsters, they’d live in Jacmel. It’s is famous for it’s paper mache art. Our good friends Josh & Chandler run an artisan coop called Haiti Design Coop. They work with a paper mache artisan from Jacmel who makes cow skulls. There’s a lot of talent going on in this town.
It’d definitely a town where you can spend the afternoon walking the streets, visiting artisans, and hanging on the beach. The downtown beach is what you would expect. The boardwalk is lovely, but it’s a little trashy. If you want a good, clean beach – head east about 15 minutes. There are some hotels and public beaches down that direction that are excellent. We used the beach just past Hotel L’Amitie where there are a few bungalows and some tables. The bungalows are available for rent. We were told $50/night for 4 people. They are simple, but clean and have fans. The restaurant and beach there is great so I’d recommend it as a hang out spot for sure.
The one thing you absolutely have to do, hands down, is Bassin Bleu.
I mean, this is real life, ya’ll. Getting there is a big adventure. These are – honest to God – the best directions I can give you. Head west from downtown any way you can toward the river bed. Cross said riverbed. If you aren’t sure about crossing puddles/the ACTUAL river just wait and watch motos go through or ask if your car will make it. People are helpful. Once you get through the river, ask where Bassin Bleu is. There are a million small roadways through the river bed. People will have to just point you in the right direction. Once you reach the tree line there is a sign. Follow the road up and there are signs the whole way! There is a little building once you get there and you’ll have to pay 100 gourdes per person to visit. You’ll also have to pick out a guide that you’ll need to tip at the end.
You pass a few small pools and waterfalls on the way. The guides are helpful and informative and will point everything out and help you get across.
The final trek requires half climbing down a boulder with assistance from a rope and the guides. Once you get down, though, you get some breathtaking views of the basin.
The water is freezing and suuuuuper deep. Haitains will tell you all about the zombies and mermaids that live at the bottom. It’s deep enough to do some serious cliff jumping.
Funny story – in 2010 I tried jump from the top. I got up there and froze. NOTHING could have made me jump off that cliff and the more I waited the worse it got. Finally, Josh climbed up and shoved me off the cliff rescued me.
Summary: Here’s a brief overview of what we loved about Jacmel. I’m only including what I’ve experienced, where I’ve stayed, etc. but there is plenty more!
Where to Stay:
Hotel L’Amitie – We stayed here for $57/night including breakfast. It’s right on the beach. The rooms are super simple but clean. There wasn’t a working phone at the time so we had to stop by and ask about rooms and pricing.
Hotel Cyvadier – This place rocked. We stayed here for $67/night including breakfast. It’s back in a cool little cove with a small beach area. The grounds are fantastic and the rooms were nice.
Hotel Florita – We didn’t stay here but we did hang out a bit. It’s amazing. You have to stop by just to grab a drink. It’s in an old historic building downtown and it feels like the sort of place Hemmingway would get drunk at and write.
Hotel Kabic Beach Club – We tried to stay here for $110/night but our reservation got mixed up. It’s nice, right across from the beach, and the owner is super sweet.
Where to Eat:
Jacmel Pizzeria – This place is downtown within walking distance of Florita and the boardwalk. They have pizza, Mexican, and a good breakfast.
Madame Barbeque – this place is very Haitian. Right at the entrance to Hotel Cyvadier there is a small building that says “Cyvadier Market”. Madame BBQ is there. It is delicious! Don’t be intimidated or nervous. She grills barbeque chicken and a plate comes with fries and a salad for $5. You can run in the little market and grab a drink.
Hotel Florita – The food here was fine. Limited menu though. Go for the atmosphere.
Bungalows on the Beach – These bungalows are right down the beach from Hotel L’Amitie. DELICIOUS food and drinks. This is the place to go for fresh seafood.
The Vatican – This is hands down one of the coolest bars I have ever been to ANYWHERE. Here is the problem. I don’t know how to tell you to find it. Maybe that adds to the awesomeness. It’s downtown near a park and close to the Jacmel market. It’s stuck between two buildings so have fun trying to locate it.
Recently, we did something we’ve been wanting to do for a good long while. We spent two days hiking up and down a 6500 foot mountain in a third world country (and with two teenagers in tow to boot). After perusing the internet and blog-o-sphere for information, Josh and I (along with the Salvants and their two oldest) decided to go for it – the somewhat-famous-among-expats hike from Furcy to Jacmel.
The 27 mile trail is one of the most breathtaking hikes in the Caribbean. The hike starts at an elevation of 3,000ft and over the next few miles reaches a peak of 6,500 ft. While Haiti is not normally seen as a tourist destination, the opportunity to walk the remote ridge-lines of some of the tallest mountains in the Caribbean make the journey well worth it. The hike is strenuous enough that even well versed hikers will feel quite a bit of pain in their feet, but not so hard that one needs to be sponsored by Redbull to have a chance of finishing.
To reach the hike you basically drive up the mountains over Port-au-Prince past the Baptist Mission up to Kenscoff where you’ll continue onto Furcy. You’ll come to a T in the road with two Digicel signs. One sign on the right points to Furcy, the other on the left points to Seguin. Here, you’ll bear left towards Seguin until you come to a place where there is cliff on one side and a huge drop off on the other. The hike starts either when you are too scared to drive any further on the road, or when the Haitians start yelling at you to stop because the road is not good. We opted for the latter. From the start of day one, it is nine miles to the village of Seguin and Kay Winnie (creole for Winnie’s house) where you will stay the night.
It felt a little anti-climactic when we just hopped out of the car and started walking, but at 8am that’s just what we did.
There is an old Haitian proverb “Dye mon, gen mon”. It means, “Beyond the mountains, more mountains.”
And mountains past the mountains are exactly what we found.
One of the most difficult parts of the hike is how rocky the roads are. The rocks are larger than normal gravel and it is easy to roll your ankle. If you are prone to knee or ankle problems I would bring a brace or wrap along. There were a lot of motos on this stretch and Haitians walking. It’s very up and down and just when we’d get to a big up section, a barefoot lady with a huge basket of chickens on her head would barrel past us. Hard to stop and take a break knowing that she does this weekly while I do it for fun. However, calling it a big up section feels like an understatement. You’re climbing a massive mountain. Looking back, we could have taken a few more breaks even but we weren’t sure how we were doing with timing so we pushed ourselves a bit.
We were all sitting at the bottom of the biggest climb yet and thought about taking a break for lunch. “Let’s just make it to the top of this,” someone suggested. Once we made it to the top (which took a good long while) we realized we were to the edge of La Visite National Park or what most people call The Pine Forest or we we called “Thank God The Worst Is Behind Us Today”. From here on, the trail has topped out so you’re done with climbing and there are side trails in the woods you can take to avoid the rocky roads and have a better cushioned walk. We stopped and ate right at the entrance to the park around 12:30.
This place was other worldly. We kept saying that we felt as if we were in a Dr.Seuss book. Probably titled something like Hiking Haiti With Packs and Ladies.
Huge agave plants grow in the pine forest. I mean HUGE! They were as tall as me.
That “sinkhole” is called Marassa (creole for twins). It’s a massive hole separated by a natural bridge complete with stalactites. Keep a lookout for it on your left. You’ll be able to see it from the path.
Since the terrain had flattened out, we were moving along at a good pace. We saw some hikers coming from the opposite direction taking a break at a small stone bridge that crosses a creek. Josh talked to them for awhile and they said they stayed at Winnie’s the night before which was about 5 miles away. We were all trying to put on a brave face but found it hard to believe we had five miles left! As we walked, the forest became less dense and we had clearly made our way out of the national park. Just about that time (maybe 45 minutes from seeing the other hikers) an older man working in his garden shouted, “Kay Winnie?” We looked up and sure enough there was the tattered sign we knew to be looking for telling us we’d made it to Seguin. There’s also a large sign that says something about a project being aided by Taiwan. I didn’t get a picture but it’s large, on the right, and I’m pretty sure it’s the only sign that says “Taiwan” on it nearby. If I’m wrong and you end up lost in the backwoods of Seguin….sorry. Thank goodness (for us) that the other hikers were really bad at judging distances. We were here by 2:30.
You couldn’t possibly miss this sign…
We veered to the right at this sign and followed the road around to the left. We started noticing gorgeous Calalilies everywhere.
Once we saw a neat row of three tents we knew we were at the right place. Upon arriving, we were given several rounds of hot mint tea and an absolutely delicious meal. Our super fresh salad was straight from a 5star restaurant topped with edible flowers. Most if not all of the food was grown either grown in his garden or one of the neighbors. It really wouldn’t be a bad place to spend the apocalypse.
After that, we all crashed! For $55 a person you get 3 meals and a tent. The tents are nice and come with a mattress and sleeping bag. We all kept using the word magical to describe this place. You’re literally in a cloud, in a lily garden, on the top of a mountain.
It was such a nice place to sit and read. We drank copious amounts of hot tea which was much needed because it was COLD on the top of that mountain. Around 8pm everyone was done napping and cleaning up and we were given some amazing hot chocolate and homemade bread for dinner.
The next morning, we again had another great meal – omelettes drenched in fresh herbs and cheese with more homemade bread – along with tea and coffee before heading out. We got started at 8am again.
One of the workers showed us the shortcut to the market and we headed out. We had moved from feeling as if we were in a Dr.Seuss novel, to feeling like we were in The Shire.
There were these crazy rocks sticking out of the ground everywhere. Goes to show what deforestation and erosion can do.
Once you pass through the market in Seguin you really start to trek downhill. This is where I started wishing I had a knee brace. We were still at an elevation of about 6,000 feet, so when they clouds rolled in they seemed to swallow us up.
It didn’t take too long for us to have our first real view of the ocean, and our first moment of Oh My Gosh That Is Really Far Away.
That’s the ocean waaaaay in the background.
At this point, the kids with their awesome, child-like knees kept finding “shortcuts” for us to take and avoid the winding switchbacks.
These were no joke. We were all walking like Grandma’s at this point because our knees were aching and blisters popping. Around noon we stopped for lunch and kept pushing forward.
Around this point a few of us started getting delirious and Josh’s knee basically gave out. We could see the small town of Perado, our destination, below but it never felt like it was getting closer. Suffice it to say this is the hardest part. You’re tired, you’re achy, and mentally it’s difficult. If you think you can’t go on there were plenty of motos going by and PLENTY of Haitians encouraging you to take one (lot’s of “you look bad” and “you’re red” and “you’re crazy”). I’m really proud that we powered on.
We finally crossed the riverbed around 5:00 and were ready to hop on a moto to Jacmel by 5:30. We had made it! For 500 gourdes per moto we took the short drive over to Jacmel. Be sure to learn enough creole to tell your driver to drive slowly (DOUSMAN!). Ours did not and actually veered too close to the edge of the road and hit a guy. We were fine, but he didn’t stop and it infuriated Josh.
After that 500 gourdes moto ride from H-E-double hockey sticks we made it safe and sound to the oh so gorgeous Jacmel.
Honestly, this hike is really hard over crazy terrain in a third world country. We hike a lot and exercise regularly and we were definitely struggling. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. However, it is absolutely the best hiking I’ve ever experienced. We’ve hiked all over the Southeast, in Costa Rica, Malawi, and Utah to name a few and this blew it all out of the park. At one point an elderly Haitian lady sang us a hymn to encourage us (after she chastised me for not speaking enough creole). Another lady invited us to her house for coffee and gave us directions. On this hike, you truly get a glimpse of all that Haiti has to offer and all the hope for tourism that lies within this tattered country. Plane tickets are inexpensive and flights are short. If you already live here are will be here (even short term) I highly recommend trying to do it. You can always message us if you have any questions. While most people only ever come to this country for mission work, you should certainly consider coming to truly experience it in a different way. Help change it’s image into one that’s more truthful.
Here’s a short snippet of what we took and our timeline…
8am: Headed out from a small market area after Haitains were yelling at us to stop
12noon: Reached the pine forest and broke for lunch
2pm: Made it to Kay Winnie
8am: Headed down the shortcut from Kay Winnie
12noon: Broke for lunch. While walking you’ll see a small lake in the distance, we broke for lunch at about the level of this lake. For reference, we took this picture around 11:00am
5pm: Made it to Perado
The only real information you need for the actual hike is Winnie’s email – email@example.com. Email a few days ahead and let them know if you want a tent or a room. If you wanted to stay up in the mountains pre-hike you could check out The Lodge or Rustik. We’ll post some information about Jacmel in a later blog and link to it here.
The trail is also great for experienced mountain bikers. We are friends with some people who did it several months ago. They did the entire trail in a day and they said “Make sure you have good breaks, and extra inner tubes!”
What we Brought
Water: At least 3 liters of water per person (you can refill at Winnies)
Food: at least 2 lunches and snacks. I’ll post my granola and granola bar recipe soon.
Toiletries: Deodorant (a must) and any other toiletries you will want for an overnight hike/ your stay in Jacmel
Bandanna: To keep the sun of your neck
First Aid Kit: We used wrap bandages, ibuprofen (a lot), waterproof bandages, gauze, medical tape, hand sanitizer, alcohol wipes, toenail clippers, and tweezers. Of course there are other things you’ll want too. Keep in mind there isn’t readily available medical help in the middle of nowhere Haiti. Take anything you might need to get you out of a serious bind (cipro, good pain meds, splints, etc.)
Extra pair of sandals: I wore my tennis shoes, but ended up switching back and forth with my hiking sandals. The ankle support was lax of course but I took it easy and gave my blisters some breathing room occasionally.
Clothes: warm ones for the mountains and whatever you need for Jacmel
Rain jacket or poncho
Tarp: we didn’t use it but Scott brought one in case it rained or to sit on
Money: Winnie’s is $55/night for a tent and $85/night for a room in the house. You’ll want small bills for the moto ride in Perado and any treats you might want along the way from vendors.
Since we will be moving back to Nashville soon (back to Joyce Lane Farms to be exact), it’s time to start updating the old resume. It’s weird looking for jobs because I feel like I’ve developed a lot of skills and I’m not sure what kind of job they’d apply to or how to put them in a resume. Prior to this year I’ve worked retail, been a radio DJ, babysat, done summer orientation at Belmont, and ran afterschool programs for refugees. Those jobs alone gave me a strange skill set (I can talk a lot – esp. to humans between the ages of 0-18, can curse in many languages, and problem solve LIKE A CHAMP). This year has only added to the uniqueness of my experiences. After working non-profit, living on a sailboat, and teaching in Haiti I sort of want to just work in the garden department at Home Depot. There’s something appealing about being surrounded by flowers and being able to leave work at work. However, Josh and I want to start the adoption process at some point before we’re fifty which means we need to make some money!
So, back to the resume….since I don’t really have a dream job in mind, I’m asking YOU guys what I should be looking for and if you know of anything. Here’s my updated skill set:
Understands the inner workings of an Atomic 4 Engine
Good at creating imitation American food with limited resources (particularly good at making fast-food-like chicken patties)
Familiar with the slaughtering of chickens
Really good at walking the fine line of wearing as little clothing as possible in order to remain cool and wearing as much clothing as possible to avoid mosquitoes
In depth knowledge of tides, moon phases, and currents.
Immune to waking due to five million neighborhood roosters crowing
EXCELLENT at avoiding 2 foot deep “potholes”, goats, cows, pigs and all manner of animal life while driving
Last week we bused over to the east side of the island where they speak Spanish and play baseball. It was a great trip although a little awkward at times. I kept responding to people in French or Creole the whole time we were there. Then I would try to correct myself in Spanish, which I don’t speak except for what I remember from Sesame Street. Other than that we had a great time!
We took a bus through Capital Coach Lines. The bus was great. They handed out sandwiches, water, and juice and played a wildly inappropriate movie (if you take this bus with kids bring some headphones and a blindfold). The border crossing was pretty quick. We just hopped out to get our passports stamped and bags checked. Once we got to the bus station we got a taxi to our hotel for $10. All in all, getting there took around 8 hours from leaving to lounging by the hotel pool.
Speaking of the hotel, Allison got a deal on the Renaissance hotel that’s about a 20 minute walk from the Colonial Zone. Apparently, Marriott has a Best Rate Guarantee and if you book through them but find a better price elsewhere on the same room, they’ll match the low rate and give you a 25% discount. Our hotel ended up being $55/night!
Santo Domingo is a nice city that is filled with interesting history. There are museums about the history of the island, art, the Taino people who originally inhabited the island and more. Many of the expeditions discovering and colonizing the New World were launched from Sano Domingo. It is also where Christopher Colombus is buried… Or was buried?? Or is possibly still buried???
There are also amazing natural wonders- like Los Tres Ojos. We went there our first day there and it was amazing. Los Tres Ojos (the three eyes in English) is a series of cave lakes created by earthquakes hundreds of year ago. The caves were originally inhabited by the Taino Indians.
Los Tres Ojos
For 100 Pesos I would absolutely recommend that anyone who is going to be in Santo Domingo visit this place. It is cheap and a short cab ride away from town! I think the round trip cab ride cost us $20 from our hotel, but our taxi driver took us by some other sights too.
Another cool place that we visited was the Alcázar de Colón. It was built by Chrisopher Colombus’ son Diego Colombus. Now it is a museum with artifacts from the Colombus family. It was a really cool museum, and for another 200 Pesos you really cant go wrong.
Alcázar de Colón
Also if history isn’t your thing there are plenty of other things to do, including the chocolate museum. I am really not into going places where people are going to try and pressure me into buying something, therefore I was hesitant to go into the chocolate museum/factory, but once we got inside there was a guy who just basically wanted to give us free samples of everything including their chocolate liquors. While we were standing there the guy behind the counter actually told us that his plan was to get us drunk on samples so that we would walk through the store and buy one of everything. It definitely beats the- I’m going to stand here and pester you until you buy something or leave approach. The factory isn’t too big but there was definitely a lot to look at and see.
Other than that the Colonial District is filled with monuments, statues, street cafes and cigar shops.
Panteón Nacional- Originally a Jesuit Church it now serves as a national mausoleum for honored leaders and citizens of the Dominican Republic.
Painted Obelisk to honor the Mirabal Sisters who were assassinated in 1960 because of their opposition to the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.
Cigar shop with hand rolled cigars.
Cathedral of Santa María la Menor- The oldest cathedral in the New World. In front of that is the Colombus Statue pointing to where Colombus first spotted land.
A statue of Fray Antón de Montesinos- A priest who protested Spanish treatment of the natives.
We also hit up one of the nice malls and ate at a Chili’s just to feel like we were in America, but after about 10 minutes in the mall we were like, “Oh yeah, we hate malls and don’t miss this part of America at all” and left.
The bus ride back took a lot longer. Once we got through the DR border, we were stopped so they could search the bus. Then we went to Haitian immigration where a bunch of guys kept trying to tell us that we’d filled our paperwork out incorrectly and they could help us (which I didn’t fall for and therefore kept the few bucks they wanted for their “help”). THEN we got stopped about 20 minutes down the road for them to search bags. It was annoying, but nothing terrible.
All in all, we had a great time in Santo Domingo. It felt nice to be “traveling” again and we definitely enjoyed the town.