The Tinii

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


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Backpacking from Furcy to Jacmel

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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.

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There is an old Haitian proverb “Dye mon, gen mon”.  It means, “Beyond the mountains, more mountains.”

 

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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.

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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.

 

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Huge agave plants grow in the pine forest. I mean HUGE! They were as tall as me.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

 

Our Timeline

Day One

  • 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

Day Two

  • 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
  • IMAG27225pm: Made it to Perado

Information

The only real information you need for the actual hike is Winnie’s email – winthropattie@gmail.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.
  • Flashlight
  • 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
  • Sunscreen
  • Toilet paper
  • Bug spray
  • 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.

 


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Updating My Resume – By:Allison

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
  • Can successfully lose and recover a really expensive anchor without killing husband in the process
  • Good bathing in rivers with alligators (aka quickly)
  • Proficient in SeaClear, NOAA charts, and Haiti Neighborhood Navigation (aka following your gut)
  • Excellent at using coconuts and mangoes in recipes
  • Champion Nertz, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride player
  • Immune to horrid smells (i.e. rotting meat, dead fish, sulfur, mounds of rotting fruit, and dead bodies)
  • Proficient in fiber glass repair, solar panel set up, spaghetti-like boat wiring, boat upholstery, fixing fans while in a state of desperation and perspiration, and all manner of odd jobs.

So there you have it. Feel free to pass this resume along and contact me with any questions 🙂

 


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Chris Columbus Wuz Here – By Josh

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

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.

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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

Alcázar de Colón

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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.



 

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Panteón Nacional- Originally a Jesuit Church it now serves as a national mausoleum for honored leaders and citizens of the Dominican Republic.

 

 

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Painted Obelisk to honor the Mirabal Sisters who were assassinated because of their opposition to the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in 1960.

Painted Obelisk to honor the Mirabal Sisters who were assassinated in 1960 because of their opposition to the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.

 

 

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Cigar shop with hand rolled cigars.

 

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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.

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A statue of Fray Antón de Montesinos- A priest who protested Spanish treatment of the natives

A statue of Fray Antón de Montesinos- A priest who protested Spanish treatment of the natives.

 

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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.

 


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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!

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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.


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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”.

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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!  


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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.

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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

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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.


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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.