Ouanaminthe, Haiti

Submitted by eagle on Sun, 12/29/2019 - 20:03

Went for a walk!

Surprisingly beautiful town, Dajabon.

Nice scenery, some friendly people.

Tons of Haitians selling their wares.

I bought a phone, and some fast food.

Went for a run, first time in a while.

Bought some bike parts.

Feeling strong!

It feels like a while since I arrived in Republica Dominicana.

I now have a much better sense for the place.

Feels familiar!

Getting ready to go to Haiti!


I think it should be fine.

Still tons of stuff to do.


Looking back at previous times, I feel quite different now.

Running low on time.

Still tons to figure out.

Made it to Haiti!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feels great!

After a while at the border market on the Dominican side, went to the bridge.

Had to get a form at migration.

Paid $100 US. When the somewhat senile bureaucrat lady handed back the passport, at first she asked if mine was a different passport, one for an older black man.

On the Haitian side, nice smells, border food!

Tons of motorcycles.

Solar panels.

Went to the bank to exchange some money.

My French seems to work fine.

I'm still struggling somewhat to understand the Haitians. Not sure if they're speaking French with a Haitian accent, or Creole. Not sure if they're sure.

At the bank to exchange money, they didn't accept Dominican pesos. They thought I wanted to exchange dollars.

After a while, they brought someone in from elsewhere (the street?) who offered to trade money. Offered me what I think is a rip-off rate. I traded a few bills anyways.

Normal. Surprisingly normal.

Haitians aren't a crowd of murderers-thieves-etc. as some people would portray.

Walked some more. Beautiful city, Ouanaminthe.

Bought some street food. Haven't eaten it yet, about to.

Found a hotel. Affordable. Scenic. Convenient.

I'm hot, thirsty, tired, excited!

I love a new country!

I think I can see/feel that I'm going to get bored of Haiti in a few months. Lucky me to get going around then!

For now, so exciting!

My brain's still in Dominican mode. When I speak, Spanish comes out. When I pay, I think in pesos.

The bank had AC set to 27 and 26 degrees celsius!

At the border market, I tried some cool new drinks, including an energy malt beverage, and a banana soft drink, the latter of which I'd long thought should be around!

So far the most threatening things here have been the traffic (a truck bumped up into my bicycle as I was walking it, I think to pressure me onwards), and my imagination, and the scary things people say.

I'm sure bad things do happen, but I think it's a decent place.

I keep seeing sign for "pappadap," haven't figured that one out yet.

So far I'm more comfortable in Haiti than I've been in most places I've traveled!

A few general travel lessons, which I've been benefiting from lately. Be prepared. It's way better to get into a country with some cash, even if it's difficult to exchange. Things often go wrong (see: Murphy's Law). Allow leeway. Things often go wrong. Be considerate. Frequently verify that you have your stuff. Things often go wrong.

Huge relief to have made it here!

La liberte!

Long day!

Went for a lengthy walk.

Makes me appreciate a northern upbringing.

There are some sketchy places, for sure. Some of the ghettoes. Also, out in the edges of town.

Also some safe feeling places.

There are some places that make me feel like it's far riskier than other countries.

Also, tons of considerate folks.

Tasty food!

I stand out like a light.

In Latin countries, I can often blend in with the crowds. Some people can see that I'm foreign, some people can see that I'm North American, but it's not entirely obvious.

Here, most places I go, people give me funny looks. Some people call out "blanc!" (white), or "blanco" or even "gringo".

Many Haitians ask me for money. I understand that, but I think it's not the most suitable approach. Not sure what to do.

So far fewer crimes against me on my first day in Haiti than on my first day in Dominican Republic!

In some ways, I prefer Haiti to North American societies. The people are perhaps more sincere. There are more young people. The society hasn't "developed" yet to the degree that more industrialized countries have, so it still feels human. People walk and ride bikes, are out in the streets conversing, eating.

My new home!

After a weekend of catching up, I'm probably going to head for the city for the New Year!

Still figuring stuff out.

Not sure that I feel safe out of town. Considering buses, but would still prefer to bike.

Mixed feelings. Overall happy to have come!

I think that I'll have trouble learning Haitian Creole, because I speak enough French to get by but it's tough to learn another language.

At least I can read the signs (which are in a mix of French and Creole), and have basic Creole conversations.

There are different aromas than I've noticed in most other places.

Much of it from food, such as spices.

I bought some smoked herring (I think that's what it is).

Feels like what I think it would to be in Africa.

Apprehensive, yet hopeful.

The power sporadically goes out, but many places have their own supplies.

Not too many trees, plants, etc., in the town, but I like the ones that are there.

I think that Haiti is the first country I've entered without being asked for a passport, or even to talk to immigration/customs.

Looking through some of my first photos in Haiti, reminds me how different it seems from an outside perspective.

Already I'm getting somewhat used to it. The noises, the sights, etc.

Before, I think it seemed more like a dysfunctional developing society. Now, I think it seems more like a functional developing society.

I think there's something of a hidden or different logic to this place than developed world eyes would see.

There are numerous problems, but people get by.

Also, I'm handsome! :)

30 km to Terrier Rouge.

Some uphill, especially near the end of that route.

A few small towns or settlements along the way.

Another 35 km from Terrier Rouge to Cap-Haitien. Largely downhill!

After that, maybe see Port-de-Paix?

I think I can do it!

Traveling Haiti is one of the more intimidating tasks I've taken on.

A funny site: a nun riding her motorcycle at the Haitian border.

A staff person from the hotel came by, asking if I wanted the room clean. Also, if I would need electricity, to find out whether to turn the electricity in the hotel back on!

Another funny sight: a woman carrying a twelve pack of energy drinks on her head!

I think I'm the only white person in Ouanaminthe.

The more I see of this place, the more I like it.

I feel like I'm ready to go on!

Eagle Gamma in Haiti!

Thoughts in Dajabon, Republica Dominicana!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 12/26/2019 - 10:18

Looks like the weather should be fine.

Ouanaminthe looks more spread out, shorter, compared to Dajabon.

Still scary to go to Haiti!

Looks like some rough neighborhoods in nearby Ouanaminthe.

"poul ak nwa" is a northern Haitian dish with cashew nuts ("nwa").

Haitian Voodoo looks somewhat interesting. Not sure whether I want to attend an event.

Il y'a beaucoup de regles de grammaire en haitien. Ca me parait qu'on doit l'ecouter et le parler pour les apprendre.

Ta: conditional.

A: and, at, in, of.

Looks like there are also some decent areas on the other side of the border.

Booked another night in this hotel room. Right after getting back into my room, the power went out!

The Caribbean has a complex shape.

I'm now looking at maps, planning, dreaming.

It looks like I'm at around the same latitude as various parts of Mexico that I like.

In looking at the map now, I can see various routes through the parts of the Caribbean that I've seen that may have been logistically easier than mine, but I'm not sure that they would have made for better travels overall.

Some of the scarier places I'm considering going include Haiti, Venezuela, Nicaragua.

I'm thinking of making a "variety pack" of Caribbean countries (Spanish, French, English, Dutch, etc.), including some in South America, before heading back to Central America.

Or, maybe leave the variety pack for later.

Some of my (complicated) considerations include: how easy it is to get places, how safe they are, how desirable they are for me to visit, whether going to a place makes it easy to get to the next place.

Looks like much of the Amazon lacks roads.

It's hard to see into the Amazon even from space!

Many of the remaining Caribbean islands seem small. Not much more than a town.

The white islands (English, American, Dutch, etc.) look boring to me. The black areas (Haiti) look dangerous to me. The Hispanic islands (Spanish, Portuguese) look just right!

29 km from Aruba to Venezuela. Tempting just to go to the mainland.

I'm still deliberating, but I'm now leaning more towards doing Venezuela and the "variety pack" coast, before returning to Mesoamerica.

Then maybe fly from French Guiana to Mexico.

Panama looks super modern.

After Potoprens (Port-au-Prince), the capital, looks like there aren't any sizable cities in Haiti.

My Haitian Creole is improving. I can now read more!

I think one could make a classic comedy movie about a freak winter storm hitting the Caribbean!


Making it to the Haitian-Dominican Border!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 12/26/2019 - 10:11


Rough start. Felt out of shape. First long ride in a while. Some digestive troubles.

Didn't make it as far as I thought I would, but had a terrific ride!

Camped in a beautiful spot.

Next day, rode on.

Gorgeous scenery. I wouldn't have thought that the area leading up to the Haitian/Dominican border would be so scenic.

Tons of people out on the streets. Pleasant atmosphere, for the most part.

Getting nearer Dajabon, decided to walk the last part. It was such a gorgeous day, and I felt somewhat tired.

Walked into town. Somewhat different feel than I expected. Numerous Haitians on this side of the border.

After refreshing, walked down to the border. There's a market there, where Haitians sell their wares.

At the border, I walked onto the bridge. Overlooking a river, where Haitians washed their clothes in tubs.

Walked back to a quieter spot. Quite quiet.

After watching part of the sunset, decided to set up camp. I had made a reservation on Airbnb for my few days in Dajabon. However, the host had to cancel. I thought I'd camp outside the town, but since I was already there, and tired, I decided to camp by the border, despite my better judgment.

As I had finished setting up, some Dominican military came by. They asked for my ID, and searched my belongings.

They asked me numerous questions about my travels.

After a while, they said I'd have to go to the immigration office, explain myself.

They said that there were numerous Haitians at the immigration office.

After a while of talking with them as I put away my stuff, trying to find a way to avoid the immigration office, I figured out that they were after a bribe!

One of them half-jokingly asked for my bicycle. "I need it to travel," I said.

I gave them a thousand pesos (twenty US dollars), and asked how that was. They wanted another thousand (twenty).

My first bribe!

I walked away, rented a hotel room. Happily!


The Giant and the Leaf

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 12/26/2019 - 09:45

Once upon a time, there was a giant. The giant sat down in a bed of grass. Tired, he lay down.

A leaf of grass sprung up beside the giant. The giant said to the leaf of grass, "I could crush you easily."

The leaf of grass scoffed. "You could crush me easily," said the leaf of grass. "But I am connected to other leaves of grass."

"I could crush those leaves of grass easily, too," said the giant.

"You could crush as many leaves of grass as you want," admitted the leaf. "However, we are connected to many more than you can possibly crush. And they will keep on growing, long after you have ceased to live."

"So?" said the giant, somewhat trembling.

"So," said the leaf of grass. "Go ahead and crush me if you will. I will hardly even feel it. We will keep on growing anyways. And we can crush you easily."


Bye, Monte Cristi!

Submitted by eagle on Mon, 12/23/2019 - 19:30

Looks like I'll probably be stocking up in Dajabon.

Things often turn out different than expected. Adapt!

Wherever we go, there are noises. So deal!

Last day in Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana!

I was thinking of having a going away party! :)

So exciting to go!

I got a different bike.

Still no phone. Maybe in Dajabon.

Cleaned up a bunch of stuff over the weekend.

Feeling much lighter and tighter than before, but still want more!

Funny to feel unsure of which country one will be heading to that week!

As of now, I plan to go to Haiti!

Seems like fun. :)

It's funny to have too much stuff. After a while of struggling to acquire, replace, or repair things, I've wound up with redundant things. For a while I've been walking around with two bikes (one broken), three laptops (two and a half broken), two pairs of shoes (one and a half broken), etc.

There's a balance!

Big week!

Tons of preparation, has me nervous.

Feel solid finally to get going!

RD has been quite a country!

Now I feel satisfied. Ready for a new adventure!

Let's go!

Work a while, set up a place, then ride for the first time in a while!

Thursday storms.

Through the weekend.

Looks like the ride isn't too technical. 35 km, only a few dozen meters of elevation.

By the way, just about any sentence sounds funny if it has the word "Haiti" in it. "I'm going to Haiti!" :)

Hotels seem way more expensive than Airbnbs on the Dominican side of the border, too.

Not much available tonight, but I made reservations for the upcoming few days. Maybe I'll find a place when I arrive, or maybe I'll camp.

(Reservation unavailable, no place to stay.)

Looks like farmland around the town.

Doing my last work here, then take another look at places for tonight, then ride!

Going off to another province without a place. Aventura!


Getting Ready!!!!!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 12/19/2019 - 20:22

Went back to the phone shop, again. No phones, again.

Thinking of maybe replacing my front wheel with a wrong size one from the bike shop.

Tons of preparations.

Looks like Ayiti has two peninsulas.

I'm planning to do the northern, main one first. Then, if I like it, continue to the smaller second one. Otherwise, return to RD.

The center of RD looks mountainous and unpopulated. As such, I'd probably just see the southern coast.

200 km from Cap Haitien to Port-au-Prince.

I'm ready to leave!

Not sure how people stay in small towns.

I like them for a while. Then I want something different!

Looks like Monday offers best bet!

Then, probably stay a few days in Dajabon, preparing.

Then, Ayiti!

Not sure whenwhere to get Haitian Gourdes.

Maybe carry around $100 of Gourdes over the border? Or better to buy after getting into the country?

Seems like I often get local currency once inside a country.

So, maybe take some Dominican pesos over the border? Seems reasonable.

I've appreciated having a chance to stay in one place for a while, a few weeks.

It's given me the chance to take care of important tasks, such as work and preparing for Haiti.

I feel much better about carrying on now!

Republica Dominicana is a large and beautiful country. Delicious food.

My big recommendation is to trade in the loud, smelly, polluting gas motorcycles for electric cycles.

RD packs quite a variety of ecology into an island.

I like the areas outside of the cities much better than the cities.

Remaining: fix bike!

My plan: weekend here, fixing up, then Monday to Dajabon, a few days there, then Friday to Haiti!

Weekend in Ouanaminthe.

Then to Cap Haitien!

Certain weather, when it's cloudy, humid, etc., makes me feel congested. Sinuses, nose, head, joints, body. I feel slow. Sad. Down. Pain. Confusion.

I guess I slog through such days.

The goggles seem fine intuitively.

I'm not sure how precise they have to be to fit.

I think they're ready to print.

What else?

I aim to wear a pair in the upcoming couple of months or so!

My model looks funky. Maybe get pro insights later.

I'm happy to have made this design.

Maybe it's more comfortable!

So many ways to do things. Confusing!

I guess we have to go by a mix of gut instinct, thought, action, etc.

Things seem to be coming together in a mad way.

I think I'm on basically the track I want to be on with these goggles. Not sure how they'll turn out, but I'm printing them!

Here's to Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles version 1.0!!!!!

I'm feeling stresses.

Unsure how things are going, but somehow!

I'm sitting here, in Monte Cristi, Republica Dominicana.

Soon back riding!

I guess that I often have a serious desire to get way from town.

See different things.

Rock & Roll!



Submitted by eagle on Wed, 12/18/2019 - 21:17

Went back to the phone shop this morning. "Dimelo," ("What's up?") asked the vendor. "Is that phone in?" Nope. Going to the city soon, to pick it up.

Haiti seems to have busy cities.

The coast looks somewhat like other coastal areas.

Cap-Haitien seems somewhat touristy.

There's zip-lining, cruise ships, and at least one McLaren in Haiti, looking at Google Maps.

The people and streets looks somewhat comparable to the Haitian areas of Republica Dominicana. I thought they'd maybe be more different.

They even have the same red Daihatsu Deltas that I see all over RD!

They seem to have numerous vehicles, wide streets, etc.

Looks like Republica Dominicana but with more black people.

And international military personnel.

So far, Port-au-Prince (the capital) looks most interesting. Stacks of colorful houses.

People out on the streets. Seems peaceful enough.

There's a tent city on the map in Haiti!

Haiti seems like a small country. It's considerably smaller in area, and even more so in population and economy, compared to Republica Dominicana.

I'm figuring on around a month or two.

35 km from here to Dajabon, the Dominican border town.

66 km from there to Cap Haitien, a more sizable city.

That's probably two days' ride from the border, after a day's ride from here to the border.

Hm, not sure where to pause on the way to Cap Haitien. Doesn't look like much on the way. Maybe do a long ride?


Haiti is much drier than Republica Dominicana. Even looking at the satellite photography map, the Haitian side of the border is a different shade.

Mountainous central country.

Looks like Terrier-Rouge is around halfway from Dajabon/border to Cap Haitien/city.

Looking up hotels in the border town. First result: "Free Wi-Fi"! Hotel name: "Hotel Masacre".

Oh, it's on the Dominican side.

Hm, Chylton? Is that like a chill version of the Hilton?

Website in English, probably touristy. Which English-speaking tourists (other than me) are going to Haitian border towns?!?

Ah, wrong website.

Didn't think I'd be looking up Airbnb's in Haiti!

Looks like there aren't any in the Haitian border town.

There are a bunch in Cap Haitien.


Affordable, but more expensive than in RD. How do locals stay in Haiti?

Looks like they do have wifi! I wasn't sure whether wifi is common in Haiti.

Gonaives has some places.

Looks like the capital, Port-au-Prince, has more affordable places.

Look nice inside.

I feel like I'm starting to get to know the place!

May be more difficult to stay on the Haitian side of the border towns.

Maybe only stay a day or so, then head towards Cap Haitien.

Hotels seem way pricer than Airbnbs.

Reading Haitian news in French, seems like they're adding more electricity, while still having outages.

Watching news in Creole, seems like at least the main political areas are more developed than one may think.

Reading news in English, United Nations peacekeepers kept the peace so well that they have hundreds of offspring!

I want to learn more Creole grammar!

Ap, like apres. I'm talking. Estoy hablando.

Ou fèk pale.
You had spoken.

Rock On!


More Challenges on the Goggles and Travels

Submitted by eagle on Tue, 12/17/2019 - 22:22

Went back to the phone shop, where they said they'd have a phone. Nope. Maybe tomorrow.

Went back to the bike shop. Blew the morning finding out that the town doesn't have any parts for my bike. Maybe buy a different bike. The mechanic offered to get me laid. Bike shop/brothel?

Went for a ride on the mechanic's motorcycle, to look at a bike for sale. The bike seller wasn't there, but the motorcycle ride was fun!

Seems that spoken Creole is much harder than written Creole, as with other languages. I tried speaking with my Haitian avocado women. Somewhat understandable, but difficult.

I'm finding it informative to read about Creole in French. Also, my French remains rusty!

The verb conjugation, adjective matching, etc., seem way easier in Creole than in French. Instead of je parle, tu parles, ils parlent, etc., m pale, ou pale, li pale, etc.!

Now trying to get the goggles into their printable shape!


I now have a version that I think contains more or less the ready components!

Still more to fix!!!!!


Eagle Eyes Adventure Goggles!