Haiti, Turks & Caicos Islands, Fort Lauderdale!

Submitted by eagle on Sat, 01/18/2020 - 18:51

Struggling to make it.

Wouldn't let me on the plane without an exit ticket.

Had to borrow cash to get a ticket.

Now that I'm here, they won't let me in without a specific address.

Can't log in to paypal.

It's not sending the password reset info.

Back in PayPal.

Not enough $ for room.

We'll see what their "other options" are!

I'm guessing a holding cell.

Maybe they'll let me out on a day pass?!

Seems like detention may be it.

Yep, they took me to detention.

At first I thought I'd be the only one there.

They drove me to a building. It was a comfortable ride, in a minivan.

Boring scenery. Glad I didn't walk.

We got to the detention center. They even assisted me with my luggage.

When we got in, they put all my stuff in a locker. Asked me to take out a change of clothes, for a shower.

I went up to the shower. Refreshing.

There were a bunch of other people in the detention center. I became somewhat apprehensive. They showed me the different cell blocks, showing me where the Haitians, Jamaicans, and Sri Lankans were. Sri Lankans? Weird.

As I was asking myself where they'd put me, they showed me to a smaller cell, just big enough for one person. I had my own cell!

Relieved, I looked around. A mat to sleep on. Not much else.

People paced. That was a constant. I sometimes would tell time (there wasn't a clock) by the pacing of Sri Lankans in the cell opposite mine.

There were a large number of Sri Lankans, sharing a couple of adjoining cells. I didn't find out exactly how they got there, or how they planned to get out. They had been there for three months already!

I began pacing in place later. It makes the place feel bigger.

The place was peaceful. People got along, even among the different populations. Prisoners laughed and joked with guards.

They brought food and drinks, which were delicious. For dinner, we had white rice with stew and salad, and cola. For breakfast, there was a spaghetti dish (a common breakfast in the Caribbean).

I didn't see any female prisoners. Not sure whether they had a different block, or if none were detained.

In the morning after my arrival, they brought me to an immigration officer. She asked me a bunch of questions, not all of which made sense to me. She said that I wouldn't be let on my flight back to the US, because of paperwork. Concerned, I went back to my holding cell.

Later, in the afternoon, they brought me back down to the lobby area, as time was running out. They told me that I would go!

I was driven back to the airport in the same minivan. Guards assisted me to checkout. My ticket didn't include baggage, my bank card still didn't work, and I only had a wad of American ones and a few Haitian bills, not enough to check in my bag. I asked one of the guards for a twenty, and with that I was off!

After landing in Fort Lauderdale, what a day! Woke up in a detention center in a country that most people haven't even heard of (Turks & Caicos), landed in a fancy city in the USA!

Feels funny to be back in the Miami area. I remember much, but I see it differently. I feel like I'm a different person now, after not even a full year away.

Eagle Gamma

Each country seems to have some remarkably beautiful places, kind people, and tasty food, among other features. We may have stereotypes about places we've never been, but so far whenever I go to a country I often fall for it, and have a hard time leaving. I felt sad leaving Haiti, a country that only two weeks before I felt nervous about entering.

Leaving Haiti, I walked to the airport (by the Hugo Chavez park, Venezuela has donated millions to Haiti). Bought a bunch of breakfast and drinks. Many of the drinks and some of my remaining cash I gave to some of the numerous Haitians hanging out in the area. Bank was closed, so I couldn't exchange the rest of my Haitian cash there. A guy nearby was holding an American bill, I asked him and he was fine with exchanging. A group of guys nearby came over and watched. As I was walking away, someone offered to buy my bike. I had been wanting to do that too! We agreed on a price, I took my bags off the bike and walked the rest of the way to the airport!

In the airport, they wouldn't let me board without an exit ticket. With my bank challenges and not much remaining cash, I couldn't afford any of the tickets! At the last minute, ran into a couple of Canadians, who lent me enough!

Buying Freedom!

It's hard, and often risky, to travel at all, let alone through countries like Haiti without enough resources! But it's fun, interesting, and makes for some memories!

Planning to spend a short while in Fort Lauderdale, fixing bank situation. Then, probably go to another Caribbean island!

Back in Florida, long blocks, not much wifi.

Found a shopping cart. Using it to get around the city with all my luggage but without a bike. Homeless touring!

Trying Kava in Ft. Lauderdale. Not sure what it does. Tastes like walnut.

Served cold. In a milky brew. In a metal bowl.

Long days!

I thought I'd go for a quick walk to find wifi. After many hours, just found it!

Now catching up. Computer's having more problems.

It's a big city, built for cars.

Tough to get around by foot.

Looking forward to leaving!

Kava apparently relaxes, not stimulates.

Feels better!

 

Leaving Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 01/13/2020 - 16:18

Yesterday, walked with my bike and all my stuff up the hill to Petionville, a fancier area.

Got a hotel. Not many to choose from. One of my worst stays.

Tons of noises, smells, mosquitoes, dirty, no wifi, not much electricity. They tried to charge me extra, and they charged me to buy a lock for the door!

Today, found a B&B.

Much better!

Beautiful place. Things work -- wifi, electricity, even hot water!

I'm getting ready to leave Haiti/Ayiti.

It's a beautiful country, I'm somewhat sad to go.

I'm also excited to get to other islands!

Unsure where I'll go next, or how. Depends on what's available.

I'm mainly considering Turks & Caicos, or US Virgin Islands.

Either way would be fine with me, or another destination!

I like Haitian culture -- the food, music, markets.

People here are way nicer than I expected.

I would say that Haiti is a semi-functional society. It somewhat works, and somewhat doesn't.

I was thinking of bussing back to Republica Dominicana to fly out to another island.

Instead, I may just go directly from Haiti.

We'll see where I can go, for how much, if anyone can take my bike.

Things I look forward to: floss, sunblock.

I wrote too soon! Power went out.

We're back!

Just a five minute outage.

Now that I'm traveling in the Caribbean, figuring out which island to get to, and how to get there, has become a semi-regular challenge/opportunity!

Looks like there aren't many affordable flights off this island.

I may bus to RD, then go to Turks & Caicos.

Booked a flight for Turks & Caicos!

Don't know much about the place, we'll find out when we get there!

Somewhat scary to book a place not knowing what it's like, if you're prepared, etc.

There was a decent ticket at a decent time.

We'll figure it out!

The places here look extremely expensive.

Due to my recent bank adventures, it looks like I can't get a hotel or airbnb in T&C on arrival.

Therefore, I'm planning to camp!

Looks like Turks & Caicos is mainly just a resort place.

Probably only stay briefly, then head elsewhere!

So, I'm thinking something like a week and a half of camping in T&C. Then head to another island!

We'll see how things go!

What happens if an island country denies you entry?

They probably put you in some holding cell until you get sent to your country of citizenship.

Anyways, the show must go on!

Petionville, Haiti!

Further in Port-au-Prince, Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Fri, 01/10/2020 - 15:34

Went for another long walk.

Came across two white people, and an Asian guy!

Haitian drivers annoy me. They drive aggressively, even pushing or tapping against people. They yell and honk incessantly. Instead of being courteous, they are angry.

Went for another lengthy walk yesterday.

I'm getting to like Haiti more!

Now thinking of staying longer, maybe another week.

Unsure whether to go to a different part of town, as I had planned, or stay another day or more at this hotel.

I like this area, and the hotel's comfortable. However, it's loud, I've seen much of the area, and I'm feeling somewhat ready for action.

Leaning towards going, as planned, but we'll see.

I like the plants of Haiti, many of which I don't think I've ever seen before. Some plants I recognize from other Caribbean areas.

There are numerous fancy neighborhoods in the hills.

Haiti is one of the more fun cities to get around.

Walking or running through the streets, which are lined with vendors.

Following from one part of the city into another.

People everywhere, often packed not too densely.

Surprises around each corner.

I still find it funny to see so many women (and occasionally others) carrying around large loads on their heads.

Haitian art is sold on numerous corners.

Fried food is popular. I like it here more than much of the deep-fried food I've had in other places.

I'm getting used to being in Haiti. I can now go for longer without the calls of "blanc!", but maybe that has more to do with being in a fancier area.

The Haitian way of saying water ("d'leau!") sounds like white ("blanc!"). So when the vendors who sell packaged water walk around behind me, I often feel like someone's following me!

I'm getting to know my way around somewhat, but it's difficult in the winding streets. I've often been walking without much reference to maps.

Haitian money has a small rate compared to US money. I went to the bank yesterday to take out some cash. Now I have a thick wad of two-hundred and fifty gourde bills!

I feel like a drug dealer.

Still unsure about whether to go to another area now or later.

There appears to be hot water in this hotel, the first such that I've noticed in Haiti. However, so far it's only worked for around one minute of the time I've been here. Also, hot water isn't that necessary in the tropics.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti!

Staying on in Port-au-Prince, Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Wed, 01/08/2020 - 12:30

Caribbean accents are difficult for me to understand, in Spanish or French or English.

Found another hotel.

This one has AC!

(Often not functioning.)

Still faily wifi.

Food and drink in Haiti are less expensive and more tasty than in many other places.

Rent is more expensive and less effective than in many other places.

I probably would never have guessed that one day I would be so upset at the Haitian banks!

Payment from work came later than usual. I was already asleep.

Woke up in the night, noticed it. Computer was dead.

Revived!

Going to see about rent, work!

Saying "hi" in French ("bonjour") is like giving a kiss, because of the mouth shapes.

Whenever I see a white person in Haiti, it turns out to be a mannequin.

Because of how late the money came in, the bank still having issues, and various other problems, I'm still without enough cash for the hotel room for tonight. The manager let me stay.

Instead of seeing the area, I feel like I'm dealing with bank frustrations. Maybe that IS seeing the area.

I'm now planning more seriously to leave Haiti this upcoming week.

It's an interesting country. So far I consider it worth visiting.

However, I feel like I've seen about as much as I want of the culture and geography.

Also, it's quite difficult to get around. It's difficult even to stay still.

So, I'm thinking of leaving around Monday.

We'll see!

Port-au-Prince, Haiti!

More Action in Port-au-Prince, Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 15:20

It's a funny feeling to be the only white person in an entire country. I feel like a representative for the race.

If I act rude, probably some Haitians will think that white people are rude. If I act considerately, probably some Haitians will think that white people are considerate.

Sunblock, sweat, humidity/rain, and other substances can (frustratingly) prevent smartphone touchscreens from working.

In just a few days, I've become comfortable with the money. There are gourdes. People also refer to Haitian dollars, which no longer are in use. It's confusing when people say prices, since it's not obvious in which. It's even more confusing when they say prices in Haitian dollars, since there's an unspoken multiplication/division by five.

While walking by the coast, I ran into one of the other passengers from the bus!

Maybe leave Haiti when I run out of sunblock, which I haven't seen for sale here.

Went for a walk.

Found another hotel.

Went to the ATM. The ATM failed. Went to another ATM. That ATM also failed. Charged my account anyways.

Outside the first ATM, someone (homeless?) threw a rock at me.

Now going to try to fix the bank situation.

Probably leaving Haiti soon.

ATMs not working. Internet not working. No phone service.

Feels like Cuba!

Some of the power went out!

I'm aiming for next Monday to leave. Maybe before or after.

I just want to get to a functional society right now.

Bank credited me the last attempted withdrawal.

Went to a different ATM. Out of service. Went to several ATMs, five or six. Out of service, or not open.

Found another ATM (next to another out of service ATM). Attempted to take out the cash again. Failed again, charging my card again.

Haiti isn't famous for its effective banking.

Ouch.

I've now attempted to take out around $500 US.

ATMs keep falling, yet charging my card.

Port-au-Prince feels like a safer city than I would've thought.

Haiti is a beautiful country, but it's full of frustrations.

Things often do not work in Haiti.

I may have to leave the country earlier than I wanted.

OK!

Went back to the bank.

(The following day.)

Long line.

A piece of travel advice: don't go to Haiti for the banks!

At least I could withdraw a hundred US dollars, which I'd downloaded from PayPal into my bank account.

Probably still a while to fix the ATM problems.

Things often go wrong.

It's our job to make them right!

Eagle Gamma in Port-au-Prince, Haiti!

Port-au-Prince, Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 15:19

First (brief) power outage at this place!

I'm thinking of staying in P au P for a while, maybe a few weeks.

I'm guessing that this city is big enough that I may, at least in some areas, be able to go out without the constant "blanc!"

So far, from the border to the opposite coast, I haven't seen another white person.

I want to go out, but there's no lock on the door!

P au P looks like a big city!

Another action-packed day!

Woke up.

No wifi, no GPS within the hotel. Went out, found the approximate address of the place, so that I could get back later.

Walked down the street. Garbage fires!

Kept walking. Hot coffee out of a giant metal pot, served in a large plastic measuring cup. Also, bread.

Kept walking. Porsche Haiti building!

Drank some fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Went for a run.

Walked through some areas of the city. Port-au-Prince is large, sprawling, somewhat confusing yet easy enough to get around, quite beautiful.

Tons of hills to climb.

Met a few locals. Got lost a few times.

Still haven't seen any other white people in Haiti, and I've now covered both sides of the country, including a solid chunk of the capital and largest city.

Bought tons more tasty food & drink, including stews, cake, sodas, energy drinks. Haitians seem to make energy drinks out of anything: fruit punch, malt beverage, chocolate milkshake, you name it.

After a lengthy walk through the western areas outside of the city itself, which contain somewhat nicer parts of town, turned around to go back to the hotel.

A somewhat scary area, near the giant garbage dump.

Got back into populated areas!

As I made my way back, it got dark. I was later than expected.

Still over an hour away walking, and through difficult to navigate areas, I decided to take a motorcycle taxi.

The driver's taxi didn't start. So I found another nearby motorcycle taxi. This one worked, and the driver offered me a lower price than the first driver had too!

Went on a scary yet fun ride. Over hills, through winding streets.

Arrived nearby!

I went back to the bus station. "L'onm blan" (the white guy), said a guard, indicating a storage room. Another worker went and brought back my bike!

I walked the rest of the way to the hotel by memory, without looking at the map!

Ate and drank some more, then went to sleep.

Woke up super tired.

So far, Haiti has often seemed better than the better end of my expectation range before arriving.

The hotel here just told me that they charge per day or night, so that if I want to stay until the morning it costs double what I thought (twenty US dollars instead of ten).

A staff woman washing laundry by hand outside my door gestured to me for eating. I think she was asking for food money in the hotel?

(She was. I gave her some money.)

I think that much of travel (and other activities too) requires adapting. Things don't go per plan.

The travel advice I heard and read for Haiti surrounds safety.

The people here seem more about work and fun than crime. Regular travel advice would cover much of it.

There are definitely cultural differences, and dangerous areas.

The food & drink are among my favorite in the Caribbean, and I like Caribbean food.

I hadn't heard Haitian pop music before, but I like it.

Maybe most of all here, I like being in a far different place. It's a refreshing break after spending a while in much more resembling societies.

I feel like I'm learning more here, and maybe contributing more here, compared to other places.

I think that's because there's a far larger distance from me to Haiti, than from me to other countries I've been in.

A Carnot culture engine.

Each day feels like a big surprise.

Still unsure how long I'll stay in Haiti.

Maybe another week or two? Or three?

I also have a few different routes, such as busing back to RD then flying to Turks & Caicos or USVI. Or ride around this part of Haiti. Or fly from Haiti.

Much to decide!

 

Crossing Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 15:17

In the morning, walked to the bus station just down the street from my hotel.

The curt staff said that there was only one bus leaving that day, and only going to Dominican Republic. Another one the following morning.

I decided not to go, preferring to see Port-au-Prince before leaving the country.

By now, I felt fine being in Haiti.

After checking out of the hotel, I went out walking.

In the packed streets, I drew attention everywhere I went. Again, I started to feel uncomfortable.

Asked around for a bus station to get to Port-au-Prince.

Someone indicated the way.

I walked there, found a building with a bus schedule painted on it. But the doors were locked.

Asked someone else, who indicated that I should walk further down the street.

Got to another building, this one with a shuttle bus outside.

I went in, and in some chaos paid to get on the bus. They even said that my bike could go on a separate shipment the following morning.

Unsure whether the bike would make it, and not too concerned, I got on the van.

It was a struggle to put all my bags in the van, and find a seat.

As I sat down in one seat, a big angry man in a nearby seat was yelling at the staff person who assisted me. My Haitian Creole is still rough, but I think I repeatedly heard the words "white" and "you're talking shit".

The staff let me on, and we set off!

I wasn't entirely sure in the rush that this bus was actually going to Port-au-Prince.

On the basis of the scary things I'd heard about Haiti, I asked myself if they wouldn't pull off on some side road and kill me.

We drove through some countryside, some small towns.

Haiti is quite a beautiful country. A mix of arid and tropical, it has numerous plants that I haven't seen before.

Early on, we got a flat.

The driver got out to fix it.

As we carried on, I felt more safe.

We listened to tons of pop music. I like Haitian pop, it's catchy and has cool timbres.

Partway through, we stopped for lunch, delicious!

Continuing on, the ride lasted longer than I expected, but was more beautiful.

We finally did get to Port-au-Prince, at night.

Tired and worried, with too much weight to carry around easily without a bike, I left the station.

Walking through dense crowds, unsure of where to find a hotel, I got to a large intersection.

A motorcycle taxi driver asked if I wanted a ride. I had wanted to walk, in part to make sure I stayed close to the bus station so that I can return quickly to pick up the bike, and in part because I was scared in a big city I just arrived in.

I got on, and we drove off.

After a scary but short ride, we arrived at a hotel. The driver asked for around as much money for driving just down the street, as I had just paid to ride across the country!

In the cool hotel-resto courtyard, paid the same amount again (around ten dollars, not too much) for a hotel room.

The people of Haiti seem decent and trustworthy overall.
For some reason, my electronics keep going off the clock. My laptop now shows a half hour later, and my phone shows an hour later.

My laptop for some reason thinks it's in Caracas!

Slept!

 

Scattered Thoughts in Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 01/02/2020 - 11:31

It's often a pain to travel in Haiti.

The people are often nice.

However, things often don't work.

At a fifty dollar hotel, half the electricity didn't function even when it was on at all, which was only about half the time. The toilet had to be flushed by pouring water into it. No hot water. No wifi in the room.

Beautiful geography.

Humid.

I feel safer now that I have a sense for how Haiti works.

Still, I often feel uncomfortable, just for standing out so much.

I never know which faucet to turn, or which way.

I feel sorry for people who have to deal with hunger, and other dysfunctional parts of this society.

Maybe I'll go look at a fortress that I think is near here (Cap Haitien).

Probably go to Port-au-Prince soon.

I've read that 5-10% of the Haitian population is white, but so far I don't think I've seen another white person here.

The food and drink have been consistently delicious.

Served at appropriate temperatures.

I'm aiming to do my shorter route. Probably just go to Port-au-Prince then leave the country.

The AC just went out. I think just the breaker it's on.

I can't wait to get back to Republica Dominicana!

Now the AC's out here, too, on different outlets.

$70 hotel room, no electricity or wifi.

Looks like there are mountains surrounding this city.

As such, I don't think I can bike. Probably bus.

My bike doesn't have gears.

Electricity back!

Tired, sick, sore, hot, humid, stressed out!

Making it in Haiti!

Electricity off again.

Probably not going to ride back to RD either. Looks like there are mountains there, too, and no obvious route.

So I'm planning to take buses or something from here to Port-au-Prince, then to RD.

Now the toilet in this $70 hotel, the toilet which is situated under the sink so that one can't sit straight on it, doesn't flush. Seems like a comedy.

I'm probably going to bus through the rest of the country.

Haiti has some of the spiciest food I've eaten in the Caribbean.

Also, the hot peppers here have a different (and for me, preferable) taste compared to some other Caribbean countries I've visited.

I can't believe that Republica Dominicana now seems futuristic and modern to me!

When I first arrived there (from Puerto Rico), and when I left (for Haiti), RD seemed difficult, often frustrating me with its lack of American amenities.

I guess we adjust as we go along.

In recent months I've bounced among many different levels of development!

When I started writing about these Caribbean travels, I thought of it as a blog and also a book (a sequel to Astrotripping).

Now I'm thinking of it as more of a blog. Who even reads books? I do. But they're bulky, and take years to produce. A blog is online, has media, and is just easier.

The light in the room flickered intermittently, keeping me awake. I finally took the bulb out.

I may spend a while in the capital area, if I like it and it feels safe.

Woke up to one of the more serious computer errors. Looked like it may be difficult to recover. However, it turned out to be fine!

Going on!

Cap-Haitien, Haiti!

Problems in Haiti

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 01/02/2020 - 11:29

An uncomfortable night's sleep.

The hotel person asked for my passport as a deposit. I haven't heard of that at any other hotel, here or in other countries, so I asked her just to write down the number. She said she would, but  didn't give it back, or return the five dollars in change that she owes me.

Other people have also been dishonest here.

I feel uncomfortable in this country.

There are some decent people, but there are enough troublemakers to cause consistent discomforts.

At the least, I plan to do the shorter of the routes that I've considered. I may also bus large distances, or find other methods.

I don't entirely blame the locals. In many cases I'm probably the first white person they've ever seen.

I often feel like I'm not from another country, but another planet.

Many people stare at me uncomfortably. Some beg aggressively.

I also receive considerable positive attention. Many people have been helpful.

I now have an upper respiratory tract infection, maybe from drinking some tap water.

Next, go to get my passport and change back, and hit the road again!

 

Terrier Rouge, Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 01/02/2020 - 11:26

Whew!

What a ride!

Made it to Terrier Rouge.

If you want to see some weirded-out faces, be a white guy in Haiti, touring by bike.

Overall positive reactions.

Still, somewhat scary.

Difficult to establish safety. Different culture.

I'm thinking of doing the shorter of my two routes.

That would cover the capital and some other cities.

The hotel here, I was shown through a series of alleys.

There's a drink in Haiti that's caffeinated fruit punch.

Keep going!

 

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