The Cap Haitien Experience: Day 2

Friday, 26 May 21017 was day two of my visit to Cap Haitien.  Having rested well from my first day and night in country, I awoke around 8:30a.m. and prepared for a day of pure relaxation and bit of beach side studying.  Breakfast was included in the room rate, so I made my way to the outdoor dining hall for a meal of pancakes, banana, mango and water to start the day.

After breakfast I visited the reception desk to make reservations for the resort shuttle to visit a local restaurant in town.  I also gave the front desk staff member $40US to exchange for local currency.  Having completed that exchange, I grabbed my study materials and headed to a lounger on the beach to review the study materials for my upcoming exam.  I carried some snacks with me on the trip, so I had a small lunch and took in a few of the tropical libations while lazing on the beach.  Having spent a few hours of taking in the sun and doing some light reading, I headed back to my temporary abode to change for a dinner on the town at the famed Lakay restaurant.  It is worth noting that the resort offers free shuttle service to and from the airport and also into town.  So, there was no need to worry about calling a cab to get around.

Lakay is a very simple, nicely decorated restaurant frequented by the locals, so I had a feeling that food had to be pretty good (especially since I am very picky).  The resort apparently has a working relationship with Lakay and gives their guests a $12 voucher to use for a meal at the restaurant.  Interestingly enough most meals only cost $9 or so.  I had a meal of fish, plantains, salad and two adult beverages.  My damage, with tip, was only $6.  I spent way too much money that day.  After dinner, I returned back to the hotel where I put in an hour of studying before heading to bed to prepare for a day of seeing the local sites.

Major takeaways:

  • If you dine on the economy, you can eat like a queen for very little money.
  • Haiti’s wi-fi network is pretty expansive and reliable.  The wi-fi at the restaurant worked just as well as that of the resort.
  • The US dollar exchange rate varies greatly.  It can fluctuate between 62HTG to 70HTG for 1 US dollar.  If you know a local, they can usually take you somewhere to get a better exchange rate than at the bank or a hotel.

Koman ou ye Ayiti?

This post is the first of many posts regarding my recent visit to Cap Haitien Haiti in May 2017.  The visit started the Thursday prior to memorial day (holiday in the states) and lasted five days.  Day one was primarily a full day of travel and a four-hour layover at Miami international airport courtesy of a cancelled flight out of NY due to inclement weather.  The flight from Miami to Haiti took a little more than one hour, so it was too short for me to finish an in flight movie and enjoy the creature comforts of first class.  However, it was long enough for me to get a good bit of studying in for my test that was two weeks away.

Arriving into Haiti, you deplane via a mobile staircase and talk a short walk to the arrivals hall.  Before you enter the hall, you are greeted by someone who asks if you were born in or currently reside in Haiti.  Based on your answer, you are directed to one of two lines.  For those of us who answered no, we pay a $10 fee (payable in american currency (or local if you have it) and receive a green entry card.  Please be sure to retain this card as you will need it when you depart the country.  After clearing immigration, you move on to the baggage area which is literally four steps away.  This had to be one of the smallest arrival halls I’ve seen to date.

Once you obtain your bag, you proceed to the exit desk next to the information desk where an individual performs a cursory bag check.  Not sure what they were checking for; however, no questions were asked of me at all.  Once that was finished, I departed the exit hall I proceeded outside to meet the driver from the resort.  Please know that when you exit the doors you will see a lot of people standing outside, but no one will harass you– at all.  You may be approached by someone who offers to exchange currency for you, but I was informed that you should not do this due to illegal tender in circulation.

The ride from the airport to the resort where I stayed took approximately 1 hour due in part to construction along the way.  When I arrived at my temporary dwelling, I checked in and was led to my room by one of the security guards.  The room had double beds and was very spacious with a nice view of the ocean.  Interestingly enough, there was no television or phone; however, that really didn’t matter.  Besides, they offered free that worked well all over the entire resort.  After a day of traveling, I showered and took a short nap and headed to dinner.  A bit drained from a full day of traveling, I turned in early (about 9p.m.) where I was lulled asleep by the sound of the ocean waves.  One day down, four to go.

What My Visit to Haiti Taught Me

As a traveler, I do not fancy myself on visiting remote destinations for the benefit of touring the country.  My desire is to truly immerse myself in the culture and to learn as much about the culture as a possibly can.  That typically has been the case for all of my trips.  However, my recent visit to Haiti taught me so much more than I expected.  I dispelled a few myths, I experienced the joy, beauty and grace of a country abandoned, and I learned more about myself in five days than in five years.  Below are the top 10 things that Haiti taught me (in no particular order).

  1. Truly, only the strong survive.
  2. Laugh, love, live, and learn to smile.
  3. Not everyone will see your beauty, but God and small children will.  There is no need to conform to anyone else’s standard of beauty.
  4. If you have access to clean water, you are more blessed than you will ever know.
  5. If you have access to free education, you are indeed blessed.
  6. Education is a privilege, not a right.  Never take it for granted.
  7. Beauty is not physical nor is it tangible.  It is spiritual.
  8. Surrendering to God’s will yield benefits that exceed your wildest imagination.
  9. Those who have the least know sometimes know the most.
  10. Do not stop climbing the mountain because it seems to high; the view from the top is amazing and is worth the climb.  Sometimes you have to face your fears head on, don’t quit.

May 2017 – Favorite Caribbean Island List

Another month, another island recently visited.  As of 30 May 2017, I have only four islands remaining to complete my second bucket list.  The islands that I am following are based on the list found on the caribbeantravel.com website*.  God willing, I will visit two more island during my birthday month.

30. Dominican Republic
29. Puerto Rico
28. St. Barthelemy
27. Saba
28. Turks and Caicos
25. Cayman Islands
24. Curaçao
23. St. Eustatius
22. Bonaire
21. Aruba
20. Bahamas
19. Bermuda
18. Haiti**
17. Anguilla
16. Martinique
15. Dominica
14. Trinidad and Tobago
13. British Virgin Islands
12. St. Lucia
11. United States Virgin Islands
10. Guadeloupe
9. Cuba
8. Antigua & Barbuda
7. Barbados
6. Jamaica (but still #1 in my heart)
5. Grenada
4. St. Maarten/St. Martin
3. Belize
2. St. Kitts & Nevis

And still sitting in the number 1 spot…… St. Vincent & The Grenadines

 

* List is based upon the destinations found on Caribbean Travel
** Latest entry

And the Grammar is Horrible

Ever heard the term “speaking the queens english”?  Well, it’s typically used to describe someone who uses “proper” grammar.  One who doesn’t split verbs, leave the “g” off a gerund ending, or use creative words.  However, who is to actually say what is right and what is wrong?  It would be nice for people to take a step back and just think for a second (prior to correcting someone’s grammar) whether or not the language that the individual is conversing in is actually their native language.  I find this to be particularly annoying by individuals who are only well versed in one language, but always want to correct someone who speaks 2 or more.

Even when correcting someone who is a native speaker of a particular language, it is important to know that certain regions, cultures, and communities actually have a language that is unique to that area.  “Come back yuh hear?”  Of course it is not the king’s english, but very few people would not know that actually is a way of saying “Please come back.”  If someone is “fixin” or “fenda” do something, that just means they are about to do something.  No shock there.  And as far as those bad “chirren” are concerned, oh well those are just some high energy country children who have a lot of energy.

What seems to be “horrible” to one person, is just a normal way of having a conversation to another.  This post was actually inspired (for lack of a better term) by the individual on facebook who chastised someone’s use of the english vernacular, without considering that person’s background.  Clearly the person who made the comment is a Rhodes scholar and never used lazy english.  But, for those of us who are travelers, love to learn, and are love experiencing various cultures, we can appreciate the cajuns in Lousiana, the geechees in the carolina’s, and those southerners in northern Florida.

In this blog, I try to utilize proper grammar; however, depending on the day, you may get a bit of jamaican patois, dirty south twang, trini slang, or caribbean kréole.  What can I say?  I am a citizen of the world and a creature of my environment and I make no apology for dat!  I doh apologize!  Me nuh apologize.  You understood me, right?  LOL

 

(Of course you know spellcheck is going to obliterate this post).

April 2017 – Favorite Caribbean Island List

The favorite caribbean island list has been updated once again and I slowly marking off the second bucket list.  There are only five more islands left to visit, based on the list* that I am following.  With each new visit, I learn more and more about myself and learn to appreciate the many, many blessings that I have in my life.  As I have always said, you learn more traveling than you can learn in the a classroom.  God willing, I will achieve island number 30 before the month of June ends.

29. Dominican Republic
28. Puerto Rico
27. St. Barthelemy
26. Saba
25. Turks and Caicos
24. Cayman Islands
23. Curaçao
22. St. Eustatius
21. Bonaire
20. Aruba
19. Bahamas
18. Bermuda
17. Anguilla
16. Martinique
15. Dominica
14. Trinidad and Tobago
13. British Virgin Islands
12. St. Lucia
11. United States Virgin Islands
10. Guadeloupe
9. Cuba
8. Antigua & Barbuda
7. Barbados
6. Jamaica (but still #1 in my heart)
5. Grenada
4. St. Maarten/St. Martin
3. Belize
2. St. Kitts & Nevis

And still sitting in the number 1 spot…… St. Vincent & The Grenadines**

 

* List is based upon the destinations found on Caribbean Travel
** Latest entry

Dinner is Served

One of the benefits of being a traveler is being exposed to the local cuisine and finding the hidden gems in the places that I visit.  Although I am NOT a foodie and have a rather particular palate that is worse that a child, I do enjoy pasta, some seafood, and of course carbs (yeah, my inner fat gyal just said that).  I have visited all 50 states and had the pleasure of sampling the dishes of many restaurants and eateries; however, the places listed are the most memorable and often pop up on my repeat offenders list.  Enjoy and feel free to share you favorite dining spots as I am always looking for recommendations.

 

  • Big Fish
    South Main Street in Grapevine, TX
    – Really good bang for your buck
  • Kingston 30
    North Brown Road in Lawrenceville, GA
    – The rice and peas… lawd ah mercy
  • Allison’s Restaurant
    Dock Sq in Kennebunkport, ME
    – Good Lobster
  • Supreme Fish Delight
    Camp Creek Parkway in Atlanta, GA
    – Great bang for your buck and the fried okra is heavenly
  • Captain Georges
    Richmond Road in Williamsburg, VA
    – All you can eat seafood buffet for less than $30.  Where can you go wrong?
  • Pappadeux (Colorado and TX locations)
    – The crawfish étoufée… making me drool now.  A bit pricey, but worth the money.
  • Coops Place
    Decatur Street in New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
    – Be forewarned, this place looks like a dirty biker bar.  But when you order the food and let it touch your tongue, you WILL order seconds to go— and those seconds may not make it out the door.
  • Bourbon Heat
    Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA (French Quarter)
    – The fish and crawfish is divine and the service is A+
  • La Rosa
    LeJeune Road in Coral Gables, FL
    – Great mojitos and a salmon dish that is like 8 feet long.  Okay, not 8 feet, but a good 6 inches.
  • Natures Bistro
    Terminal E of the Atlanta-Hartfield International Airport
    -I will miss a flight for their vegetarian chili.