When cruising around as we do, one is “always at home” as the boat is our home, so even at the most exotic places, we are still “at home”. A bit strange maybe, but of course a big advantage, we do not need to worry to much about finding a hotel, where to eat, we have our necessary belongings close by, the list can be made long and it is rather obviously a great advantage. But it also has a few disadvantages, as we are “always at home” one could be a little bit lazy and just stay aboard instead of exploring the areas we are visiting. Maybe a bit like being stuck in your favorite comfortable chair at home in front of the telly, we have our favorite corners in the cockpit where we have our breakfast, reading a book, listening to music or just relax and enjoying life.
Kerstin in her favorite corner of the cockpit reading a book.
Ile a Vache
Visiting an interesting place like Ila a Vache on Haiti, cure most of the problems described above, one gets more eager to discover. Ila a Vache is a totally different world. The main task for people is to get food on the table for the day. most people only eat one meal a day, and the main ingredients are, rice, maniok or bread fruit. Haiti itself was severely hit by a devastating earthquake 2010 with 212 000 confirmed dead persons. After the earthquake Haiti suffered from cholera killing another 10 000 persons but as many as 800 000 was infected with cholera of the total population of ca 11 000 000. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, GDP per capita is just over 750 USD or on place 169 out of 185 ranked countries. Neighbouring countries like Jamaica has a GDP of 5100 USD and Dominican Republic just over 7000 USD, Cuba 8400 USD, all very poor countries, just to put Haiti’s situation in perspective. In the press one can read about riots on Haiti especially in the capital Port Au Prince. When talking to the local people they call it manifestation, mainly due to very high inflation, and corruption making life very difficult for them.
Ila a Vache is an island 13 by 3,2 km with ca 20 000 inhabitant, no electricity except from a few solar panels and a few generators.
When we approached Ila a Vache, in the dark an early morning, no lights were to be seen either on the island or on the mainland. We had the radar on as we made “landfall” just at dawn. The radar picture was strange, there is a reef we need to pass north of, but I saw a lot of echoes just in front of us, could it be that the reef extends further north with some rocks above the water. But no, it was the fishermen that was out in the very early morning in small traditional sailing boats and dugout canoes.
fishermen out in the early morning
A small island just outside Ile a Vache with very basic housing for the fishermen.
When arriving into the anchorage we where meet by and overwhelming number of local fishermen and others which wanted to sell all kind of services to us, such as, polishing the hull, the stainless steel, guide us around, try a home cocked meal at their home etc, etc. It was not easy to navigate around all these offers. We decided to choose the first young man who meet us in his dug-out canoe outside the anchorage to be our cicerone his name was PiPi. There were many kids coming out asking for all sorts of gifts candies, head phones, etc. it was very difficult to say no all the time, but else we would never had been left alone, cruel? Maybe yes, but we had read that it was an home for orphan children on the island and we had on beforehand decided to give a donation to the orphan home as our contribution to the community. We also had some ropes to give away to the fishermen which was highly appreciated, as well as a snorkeling mask. For you who plan to go there which I really do recommend, and like to contribute something, snorkeling gears and fines are very appreciated as well as ropes. The orphan home is short on infant formula 0-6 month which is also very expensive on Haiti, so bring that to the orphan home and you will be highly appreciated. The orphan home is driven by an old nun and hear aged sisters, it is a risk it will cease to exist soon.
Kerpa at anchor in the very protected anchorage, the boats in the most protected corners called Port Morgan, after the pirate Captain Morgan, are permanent moored and they stay the whole season, so “visitors” have to stay in the outer part of the bay.
The story of captain Morgan is interesting https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Morgan
He became a night, not a bad carrier for a Pirate, even though he got a “letter of marque”, the right to pray on Spanish ships and colonies. He lived a large part of his life on Jamaica hence maybe the Rhum Captain Morgan.
There is a local clear in decided by the mayor, a 10 USD fee per week to anchor claimed to be used for cleaning up the bay from debris and it looked rather well kept.
The clearing in guy is leaving us in his “modern” canoe
The inner anchorage Port Morgan please not the ambulance boat.
A guided walk on the island
PiPi took us for a walk on the island, to see different aspects of the island
The men on the beach are collecting sand to mix into cement for constructions, everything by hand and carried manually.
In the back ground one sees part of a resort, does not look very large on this photo but it was a large resort, could probably take a few hundred guests. It was opened and we talked to the owner, and he confirmed my fear, he had no guest, main reason for that was the manifestations and that it is on a remote island. We talked a bit about the island and then he mentioned deforestation due to charcoal production, people cutting down trees but do not plant any and the island becoming more and more deforested.
We saw one charcoal stack, not very large but there where large areas without trees
Only few trees here
Number one charcoal producer world wide is Brazil followed by Nigeria, in Nigeria this is a major deforestation issue and if continue in current rate Nigeria will not have any forest left already by 2047, Nigeria has lost ca 50% of its forest the last 20 years, if you are interested in the subject you can click on the link, and that is for a country with plenty of oil, The world is strange
Deforestation due to charcoal production is very seldom mentioned, could it be because it is “Green”??
We saw two more rather large resorts with no or VERY few gusted
In all we only saw two guests in total on the three resorts.
It was an interesting tour with PiPi showing us a small part of the island
Seeing the landscape
How people lived houses and different neighbourhoods
Some of the boats
A few very slim cows
The other day we took a long walk about 2 hours to the village Madam Bernard, where it is a market two days a week.
The main road with kids on there way to the school
Occasionally it was rather muddy and other areas was more dry, this is fare from the worst section, on some areas the mud was piling up under our sandals, and they needed to be cleaned every few 100 meters.
and thgis section was very dry.
Finally, we came to Madam Bernard
The market, we bought some bread fruit, manioc and some other vegetables, as the walk was both long and dry, we became thirsty and decided to find a bar to have a beer. PiPi guided us to a more pleasant or should I say in his view more up market place, unfortunately it was closed but when he asked, they said we can open for you.
The bar, when we got our beer a woman came in and asked if we would like to have some lunch, she had chicken and plantain (food banana), as it was soon lunch time we thought why not lets try it. This is a land of no hurry. The woman now had to get all the raw material, light up the charcoal “stow”, all in all it took close to two hours, but then we were served a nice barbecued chicken with deep fried plantain and salad.
Kerstin and PiPi enjoying the food
Is this the salad chef? do not know, but the food must have been clean no problem with our digestion, we have probably been a bit multi-resistant by now.
The way back we took on a motor taxi, one adventure on its own.
I mentioned earlier that we were invited to try home cocked food at a family it was the family of one of PiPi’s uncles
The uncle told us to be there at 6 pm, a good time we thought, but obviously we are not the only couple who communicate poor between each other. This family had obviously not communicated about the time for our arrival. When we arrived home to the uncle, the wife was not there, she came after a while, did a few things before she started to prepare the food, shortly after 8 pm the food was ready to eat. It was an interesting evening in their plain home.
Place where we had the dinner, Haitian do not like to be on photo, so unfortunately, we have only few photos on persons. In this case I just forgot to take photo on the food and the home.
Boat taxi to Les Cayes
We had not cleared in and that one has to do, I know some does not bother but we decided to follow the rule and are very pleased with that, it gave us another experience/adventure.
Boat Taxi to Les Cayes the nearest main land town (ca 100 000 inhabitant) to Ile a Vache ca 6 Nm just across the strait.
On our way to Les Cayes
When we arrived the first real surprise, we anchored 50 meters from the shore then an smaller boat came to pick us up
Note the smaller boats close to the shore, but it was not enough with that, to get ashore we were carried on the back of men who had that as an “occupation” to take travelers to the shore. I can’t say I felt very uncomfortable to be carried ashore by a stranger who had as his main income.
It was a vivid place with a lot going on, market, transport and a smell of food, garbage and sewer
Note the “larger” freight vessel, the mast is not very straight.
Views from the window where we cleared out
On the journey back “home” we were among the first to board the water Taxi, when we were about 20 persons aboard each of us with some sizable cargo, we had a case of beer and a propane tank, so 20 people aboard including cargo containing even a few chairs it started to get rather full, but after a while several new small boats showing up with more people including cargoes small infant children, I thought they will never get space. Guess what I was wrong, we were at least 35 persons aboard the water taxi, when it left.
This is Taxi after 5 persons and their cargo had left the taxi,
The day after we sat sail to move our “home” to Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio, Jamaica.
Again it was plenty of dugout canoes and small vessels out fishing
And also, this larger boat with a massive amount of sails.