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!

 

First Ride in Haiti!

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 01/02/2020 - 11:24

Woke up early, before three am.

Getting ready to do some work.

Then ride!

Went out of the room to go down to the lobby, where the wifi signal reaches. There was a locked gate! Found a latch. Down in the lobby, the wifi connects but has no internet. So much for that plan.

Problems can push you out into better routes!

If the electricity guy is borrowing a ladder from the hotel, that would explain why the hotel doesn't have electricity.

I'm planning to leave around 10 to 12.

I'm guessing around 3-4 hours.

Probably arrive late afternoon/early evening.

Idea: shampoo for nose hair.

Ate some delicious breakfast. Not sure what it's called. A deep-fried stuffed dough, topped with vegetables, quite spicy!

So far I've been asked if I'm American, French, Spanish, Dominican.

Going!

 

More Haiti

Submitted by eagle on Thu, 01/02/2020 - 11:24

After my first full day in Haiti, I like the country so far, and want to see more of it!

On the way over, on the Dominican side of the border, I noticed that the scenery reminded me of Louisiana. Lush leaves, water, rice fields, etc. Here in Ouanaminthe, I hear tons of music, and was reminded of New Orleans.

Weak wifi. Not sure what I'll do here.

Taking in some local media. Seems like a more positive culture, which I like.

Sitting here, on the roof of a hotel in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.

Looking out at the mountains.

Over the highway traffic.

I feel like riding!

 

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!

Confusion.

I think it should be fine.

Still tons of stuff to do.

Work!

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!

LifeFLOW3D

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