Jillian, Karen and I decided to take a break from the busy streets of Port-au-Prince and trekked out to Jacmel for two days to stay at our friend’s beach house. Jacmel is on the southern coast, a three hour drive snaking through the mountains of Haiti, a tough feat considering you are avoiding roadblocks created by fresh landslides along the way.
We were also driving an old Nissan Sentra, which is by far the WORST car to drive in Haiti, ever. Let’s just say it’s a good thing they don’t inspect the bottom of the cars at AVIS when you return them, as Haiti now has little pieces of our rental car scattered all over it. And while many of the buildings in Jacmel were affected by the earthquake too, it was nice to stay somewhere where there was no rubble, no traffic, and just total relaxation.
We spent almost all our time at the beach. The water was the perfect temperature, the sun wasn’t too hot, and the sand felt great between your toes. As you can see above, we set up a table on the sand in the shade of the coconut trees, and had breakfast delivered to us from a nearby restaurant. It was close to perfection.
There are actually two houses on the property, each with two bedrooms. They both sit about 50 yards from the beach, and you open the windows of each room to a view of the ocean. It even came with a dog, which we named Samantha, who protected us from all Haitian by barking at them, which was actually slightly awkward.
And as you all know already, you can’t travel anywhere in Haiti without throngs of children surrounding you. At the beach, there is a group of about 5 kids that just hang out on the property, and right when you are walking from the house to the beach with a hand full of snacks and beer, they ask you for food because they’re hungry. At this point you can’t tell them you don’t have anything, because that would be a blatant lie, and if you don’t give them food you kinda look like a jerk as you’re having a luxurious beach vacation.
I think they know this, and it works. They got food, and then came back for more, and more, and more… But it was actually really frustrating, as I personally had hoped that going to the beach would be an escape from these situations. I actually didn’t need a break from the rubble, I wanted a break from the begging, and apparently there is no avoiding it.
But the children did actually come in handy, as they have the skill and agility to climb up these huge coconut trees to get you coconuts. I guess you can’t hate them for that (except they charge you for it…).
Other than that, the trip was perfect. We ate a dinner of lobster and fresh fish with plantains, and played pinochle under the stars on the beach. But most importantly we got to spend some much needed time with Karen, and it was really wonderful having her here. Jillian finds solace in Karen in a way that is unmatchable, so it’s been nice to have this slice of home here in Haiti. Cheers, Karen!!!