The Tinii

It's plural for Tinius, because we said so.


Leave a comment

Jacmel

Ah, Jacmel

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.

DCIM101GOPRO

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.

DCIM101GOPRO

 

2014-05-04_1399222976

 

jacmel2

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.

DCIM101GOPRO

 

 

faitlaforce on Instagram

 

jacmel

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.

2014-05-24_1400972736

2014-06-25 10.42.02 (2)

2014-05-03_1399158654

 

The one thing you absolutely have to do, hands down, is Bassin Bleu.

DCIM101GOPRO

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.

DCIM101GOPRO

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.

DCIM101GOPRO

 

2014-05-27_1401223887

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.

 

 

 

Advertisements


2 Comments

The Citadelle (be prepared for too many pictures) – By:Allison

I’ll be very honest. The first time I came to Haiti I knew very little about its history. I knew there was a slave revolt and voodoo and that’s about it. When we came back for an extended period of time, I really did try to learn about the history and about the historical sites here. It turns out that Haiti is a gold mine for nerdy and somewhat adventurous travelers. The slave revolt is fascinating and the system of forts here is a historical-site-loving person’s dream.

In late January, Josh’s parents and sister, Casey, came for a visit. They decided to treat us to a trip to Cap Haitien. This town is up in the North near Labadee (where Royal Caribbean stops). It’s about a 5 and a half hour drive from where we live in Port-Au-Prince. The roads were great up to Gonaives and after that they were a bit pot-holey, but nothing too bad. The drive was gorgeous so we didn’t mind bumping our way along. One of the cool things about Haiti is how quickly the terrain changes. We passed the beach, dessert-like land with cacti, rice fields, and green mountains.

Rice fields in Haiti

Rice fields in Haiti

Cap Haitien is a really cool town. It’s a lot cleaner and calmer than Port-au-Prince (duh) and the roads are laid out in nice grids. There’s a little boulevard that runs next to the ocean downtown that has several nice looking restaurants. We drove up a hill that overlooks the town to our hotel. We stayed at a nice little boutique place called Habitation Jouissant. I can’t say enough wonderful things about the manager, Florence. She’s a delight. The staff was great and the rooms were nice – small – but nice. We had breath-taking views of Cap Haitien and the ocean.

View of Cap-Haitien

View of Cap-Haitien

More of the view

More of the view

Hotel Restaurant

Hotel Restaurant

We spent the afternoon reading and just enjoying hot water showers and air conditioners. The next morning, we headed to the Citadelle around 9:00am. When you get to the parking lot, there’s a booth to your right where you buy your tickets for $5 per person. If you want a guide you can hire one for $10 per person there as well. We immediately were overwhelmed with ladies wanting to sell us hats and a guy who REALLY wanted us to by a flute…which he played for us quite a bit. Who wants a used flute? Not this girl.

Right past the parking lot is San Souci palace. It was built by a guy named Henri Christophe. Haiti’s slave revolt was the world’s only successful slave army revolution. The first leader was Dessalines, who declared himself Emperor for Life. That didn’t go so well and that life was cut kinda short. After that, Haiti was divided into the North and South. Henri Christophe took over the North and established a sort of feudal system. Though Napoleon had given up on establishing France in the New World, Henri didn’t want to take chances so he built a really impressive system of forts with the Citadelle being the crown jewel. At the base of the mountain that hosts the Citadelle he built San Souci Palace. It was one of NINE palaces built by the guy! After Henri Christophe suffered from a stroke and committed suicide (supposedly with a silver bullet), the place fell into ruin.

We toured these ruins first where we picked up a few uninvited guides. I may not speak a ton of Creole, but they got the point that they weren’t wanted.

Ruins of San Souci

Ruins of San Souci

Statue at San Souci

Statue at San Souci

More of the ruins...

More of the ruins…

After walking around San Souci for awhile, we started up the mountain. Most people drive up to the second parking lot and hike from there. We are not most people. We are Tinii. One of our uninvited guides couldn’t believe we were walking and left us alone. The second guide hiked along with us…and a half dozen horses who WOULD NOT GET OUT OF OUR GRILLS. I mean, really. When you’re hiking straight up a mountain in the heat of a tropical country, the last thing you want is to be surrounded by janky looking horses. Our unofficial guide kept telling them to leave and finally they listened to him. From that moment on, I didn’t care how much money he weaseled out of us…it was worth it.

The hike that wouldn't end

The hike that wouldn’t end

The guide ended up being helpful actually. I got a chance to practice Creole and he was pretty encouraging (he kept telling us we were strong people). He pointed out different fruit trees and was really shocked when I told him the price of avocados in America. I mean…he was flabbergasted.

Once we got to the second parking lot, the guide helped out again. We didn’t have our tickets with us and he talked the ticket booth into letting it slide. There are restrooms again, people selling drinks and souvenirs, and a little cafe at this parking lot. Our guide told us, “Soon you’ll see the Citadelle.” We asked him if that meant we were close. The answer was no.

At this point we were all pretty exhausted. All of us are strong hikers but that trek was legit. My butt and calves were on fire. Unless you are in good shape, drive up to the second parking lot FOR SURE and hike from there. This last part was the hardest but had some amazing views.

First glimpses..

First glimpses..

This felt surreal.

This felt surreal.

Once we finally made it to the Citadelle I was shocked by just how large it is. It’s over 100,000 square feet!

Because Haiti was never attacked all of the cannonballs are still lying in wait for Napoleon.

Just waiting for Napoleon.

Just waiting for Napoleon.

Still waiting.

Still waiting.

Our guide told us a lot of stories including one about the tomb on site. It’s apparently Henri Christophe’s brother-in-law who made the mistake of smoking in the gunpowder room. What was left of him ended up in the tomb. We also learned that Christophe is buried somewhere on the property but no one knows where and that Wyclef filmed a music video here.

Wyclef Wuz Here. We begged the guide not to take this picture.

Wyclef Wuz Here. We begged the guide not to take this picture.

Words can’t really do this place justice. It’s incredible and even if you don’t happen to find yourself in Haiti, it’s worth going to see. Cap-Haitien would be a really great vacation spot if you like this kind of thing and are a bit adventurous! One of the things I love about traveling in Haiti is that it really feels like a travel adventure! You have to be flexible and fly by the seat of your pants a lot. Plus, contributing to tourism here really does make a difference.

Breathtaking views!

Breathtaking views!

DSC_0504

DSC_0506

DSC_0532

DSC_0483

DSC_0440

DCIM101GOPRO

After the trip back down the mountain via moto (Which cost $10 and was totally worth it), we headed back to the hotel to recover. In fact, we spent the next day recovering at Cormier Plage – a hotel on a really pretty beach about 10 minutes from out hotel. The beach was in a little cove and we could see people para-sailing from the cruise ship at Labadee around the corner.

All in all, Cap Haitien was a breath of fresh air. Being there certainly makes you have a lot of hope for Haiti.


1 Comment

Asshole Husbands and How to Kill Them- By an Asshole Husband

I was just looking at the site stats for our blog and noticed that people have been finding our blog by searching “Asshole husbands and how to kill them”.

My Stats   WordPress.com

I was wondering if maybe Allison was writing some blog posts that I didn’t know about so I decided to google it myself. I mean if Allison is writing blogs about how to murder husbands I should probably read them. I was expecting to find our blog several pages deep in the internet jungle, however, when I looked it up we were the first thing that popped up online!

asshole husbands and how to kill them   Google Search

I should probably take this opportunity to encourage people against slaughtering their spouse.  Not only is homicide illegal, it is also unkind.

Also, if you do plan on offing your husband, you really shouldn’t google it.  Anyone who has ever watched the ID Channel knows that!  


Leave a comment

Saut d’eau Waterfall aka Boobie Falls – By:Allison

Let me start by saying the last story about the passports has a few fallacies but I won’t go there…

Josh and I really do enjoy being in Haiti.

We feel like the country has a lot more to offer than making Americans feel good about themselves by helping Haitians. When we came in 2010, we got to visit Jacmel. This time around, we’ve done a few trips around the Port-Au-Prince area. Even so, there’s so much more to see and do than we’ve seen or done. We decided to be proactive and create a Haiti Bucket List to keep us from being lazy and never experiencing all this place has to offer. So, we got together with our friend Kelsey and our friends Josh and Chandler, sat down with a few drinks, a notepad, and a guidebook, and got to work.

And let me just tell you – our bucket list is amazing. It involves owning a donkey, camping on beaches, and sailing to Tortuga to look for pirate treasure. Yes. Pirate treasure. You are all welcome to be jealous and/or come join us.

Right after we wrote the bucket list, Josh and I had a day off. Kelsey had a free day as well – lucky for us because she also has a car named Stuart and a complete mastery of the Creole language. So Kelsey, Josh, Joseus (her boyfriend), and myself hopped in Stuart the not-so-trusty truck. I say not-so-trusty because he has a bad habit of catching on fire and his starter is going bad, but that’s neither here nor there.

We’d decided to check out a place which had been growing in infamy since living with the Salvants – Boobie Falls. Now, the real name for this place is not – afterall – Boobie Falls. It’s actually called Saut d-eau (pronounced Sodo) – a hotspot for Voodoo activities and bathing. The Salvant kids have not-so-affectionately nicknamed it, however, because the bathing leads to seeing “lots of big Haitian boobies.” Yes, that’s a direct quote. And if you google Saut d’eau you will, in fact see lots of big Haitian boobies.

After praying over Stuart multiple times and making sure we had a butcher knife to use in lieu of a starter and a few gallons of water to put out fires – we set out. Along the way we gained another adventurer. Kelsey and Joseus’ friend, Serita, who is a very sassy lady around 50 years old. I can only hope that I am such a great adventurer in my 50’s that if I was standing in the market in a nice dress on a Monday and saw some 20-somethings I knew, I would also hop in the car without much thought.

On the way up the mountain, Stuart struggled. We were being passed by semi’s while all praying out loud. Not being passed by semi’s in a dangerous way, but in more of an embarrassing way. The best part of the whole trip might have been the drive.

Where we live down in Santo, all the houses are surrounded by walls. It’s extremely dusty and usually hot. For a bunch of people who love the outdoors – it’s not an ideal situation. As you go up in the mountains, walls disappear and you start to see gardens, fields, and green GRASS! It’s utterly refreshing.

Once we got to the town of Saut d’eau we were all enamored. The roads were not only free of potholes but they were painted with yellow lines AND HAD REFLECTORS. There were even signs to let you know there was a dip in the road. We were ready to move.

Once we got to the entrance of the falls we did a little haggling on the entrance fee (non-Haitians were 200 gourdes which we talked down to 100) and headed down. The whole place was surprisingly park like. imageThere are steps that lead right down to the little pools at the base of the falls. Before you reach the falls, there are little changing rooms and benches. We spent the afternoon freezing in the water and having a picnic.

IMAG2264

image

IMAG2256

image

Josh was clearly excited about the waterfall – thus all the pictures of him looking excited.

Craziest of all…there were no boobies. We must have gone on a slow day. There’s a lot of superstition and religious activity surrounding the falls. There’s a yearly pilgrimage laced with Catholic and Voodoo themes because the Virgin Mary appeared in a long-ago cut down palm tree. The waters supposedly have healing powers as well, though I didn’t feel anything but cold when I was there.

After Serita hired someone to give her a massage, cut her tea leaves, and bring her water (girl supported the Saut d’eau economy for sure) we took a lovely group picture and headed back.

Of course we said even more for prayers for Stuart though we felt pretty confident in his abilities by now. Although we took one small wrong turn, we coasted down the mountain right as the sun was setting.image

IMAG2282

I feel pretty good about crossing Boobie Falls off the list. If you come to Haiti I’d definitely recommend the trip as long as you don’t mind an hour and a half drive out of PaP and the possibility of the falls living up to their name.


1 Comment

Fun with Passports- Josh

passportAllison and I had a great time visiting friends and family in the States over Christmas.  Since my family lives in Nashville and Allison’s in Alabama we split time between the two states.  I actually flew back a week earlier than Allison to replace the main drain line on our house in Nashville.  My first day back it snowed.  It was quite a contrast to the heat of Haiti and Living on a boat.  I sat outside in the snow in some gym shorts and a t-shirt for about 30 minutes.  It literally felt like the heat was steaming off my body.  I like to imagine that I looked something like Hans Solo being brought out of his frozen carbonite chamber.

After a few weeks of catching up with friends and family it was time to pack up and head back to Haiti.  We were in South Alabama flying out of Talahassee Florida.  Our flight was supposed to leave at 7:00am which meant leaving Alabama by 3:00am.

We started packing our bags about 8:30pm.  Around 9:00pm Allison’s Dad says “Don’t forget your passports”.  We looked everywhere.At 9:08 we call my parents in Nashville and asked him to check in the suitcase that we left stored in their garage.  At 9:10 my dad calls back and informs us that he has found our passports 400 miles away in Nashville.  Thankfully my sister and brother were at my parents house and offered to meet us halfway.  We arrived in Birmingham at midnight and booked it back to Allison’s parents house to arrive at 2:58am.  Since we were planning on leaving her parents house at 3:00am there was just enough time to take a pee break and load the car with our stuff.  We arrived at the Talahassee  airport just in time for our flight to be delayed 4 hours.

Just in time!!

Just in time!!

It still isn’t quite agreed upon who was responsible for the lost passports.  I think that it was more of a joint effort and Allison blames it completely on me.  We had two suitcases while we were in the states.  One had our winter clothes in it, and the other had Christmas presents and other random things. When we were in Tennessee someone set our passports on the nightstand. I had a horrible vision of us driving to Alabama and leaving them there.  So I thought “I’ll set them in the suitcase, that way we know for absolute certain that they will get to Alabama.” Before leaving we decided that we didn’t really need to bring a whole suitcase of winter clothes.  Allison went through the suitcase and got everything we needed to take to Alabama out of the suitcase and packed it in the one we were taking with us.  I knew there was something important in the suitcase, but I couldn’t quite remember what it was.  I probably asked Allison three or four times “You went through the suitcase and got everything we need??”  After a few times she got annoyed that I was asking the same question repeatedly and I shut up and forgot about it.  I guess you can take that information and place blame where you feel most appropriate.  Feel free to leave a comment letting us know what you think.  I’m sure Allison will have some interesting words that she will be writing in the comments as well.


1 Comment

Mountain Biking Haiti- Josh

Here in Haiti, we live way down in the valley in a neighborhood called Santo. The house looks out over a pretty awesome Mountain Range.  My first thought when we arrived was, “I have to mountain bike that”( even though I’ve never really mountain biked).

Mountain

I planned on just buying a bike off the street, but our Haitian friend, Robinson, said he knew of a good place to buy a bike. So, he took me to the “bike store” where I could get a mountain bike. This place is downtown in a big market.

bike store

Bike Store

The number of bikes in this picture really does not do justice to the experience.  There must have been ten times that many bicycles at that place! I actually found a newer one for only $80. It’s nothing fancy, but I was glad to have found it in that awesome mess.

My friend, Brian (who actually mountain bikes), wanted to join in so we looked up a few places and took some suggestions. We woke up before sunrise to beat the heat. Not really knowing where to go, my friend Brian and I took the suggestion of a friend who described this road near Titanyen as “rolling hills” that have some really great views. I figured rolling hills = beginner mountain biking. So, we loaded up and came to these “rolling hills”…

IMAG2131 (2)

mountain biking tytt

Clearly this was more than rolling hills.

My Stats - WordPress.com(1)

We mostly were riding on the gravel road.  But once we got to the top we found some goat trails that also made great single track riding.

Screen Capture Options

The ride back down was filled with obstacles.

Screen Capture Options(1)

And more obstacles.

My Stats - WordPress.com(4)

All in all it was a great time.  But luckily I met somebody the other day who knows where there are some trails much more conducive for riding.  I know there is a 30 something mile trail that goes from PaP to Jacmel on the south coast. Once I master “rolling hills” and dodging goats, maybe I’ll give it a shot.


1 Comment >

We finally sold Willy!  We definitely have mixed emotions about it selling.  It is really disappointing that the guy who delivered our boat from TN was a month later than he said he would be.  It also sucks that our rudder broke and pushed us back another three weeks.  It also sucks that we cant afford to keep it stored over the winter while we are in Haiti and keep going next summer.  At the same time, I am really glad that we don’t have to worry anymore about trying to sell the boat from another country.  Its nice to have money in our account and to know that it is no longer going to be slowly disappearing in slip fees.   Thanks to Jaqui and Captain Crunch (see earlier blog post) and Allison’s parents it all went down without a hitch.

DSCF5659

We have been living in Haiti for about a month now.  We came here a few years ago right after the earth quake so we knew already that we really like it here.  We have been getting along great with the family that we are living with/ working for.  We really dodged a bullet with that one…

1377705090598

View of Haiti from the roof.

Last week we took a trip down to the Irish Embassy for Scott’s birthday.  I was really confused at first, the way they talked about it, I thought that we were going to an Irish restaurant in the Irish Embassy in Haiti…  Turns out they just call the local Irish pub the embassy as a joke.

After enjoying our delicious fish and chips, and bangers and mash (we actually ate burgers) we were approached buy this German guy named Stefan.  “Hello” he said “I have a proposal.  If none of you have any moral, ethical, religious, or political objections I would like very much to buy you a drink.”  None of us had any objections, but we did have to go pick up Scott and Aprils kids from work (the kids work for some friends at their pizza restaurant) so we really didn’t have time.  However, before we could even respond the waitress brought out 6 beers and 6 gin and tonics…  My first inclination was that he had slipped something in the drinks and was was planning on taking advantage of us all monetarily (and lets be honest probably sexually too).

He said that he just wanted to have a conversation about economics.  When we asked him what he did for a living he slapped himself in the face repeatedly and then sniffed his armpits.  When we asked him how long he has been in Haiti, he slapped himself in the face and sniffed his armpits.  We decided pretty quickly that unless we wanted to wake up on the side of the road in Port Au Prince we should probably head out quickly.

Image