Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cap Haitien

For the entire 4 years that I have lived in Haiti, people have constantly asked me whether I'd been to Cap Haitien, the old city on the north side of the island that was the hub of culture and government during colonial days. The answer has been a regretful "No". So when we closed our clinic for Nurse Spring Break, Grace and I decided that Cap Haitien would be our destination.

A sickening 4 hour taptap ride over the mountains and a terrifying moto-taxi run through the city dropped us at our adorable hotel. We spent the first afternoon exploring the city and marveling at the traditional style buildings and the cleanliness!

I woke up at 3:30am the following morning with a lovely case of vomiting and diarrhea. It's been going around our community, though everyone has gotten varying degrees of illness. Some, like Grace, have been chronically pooping for 4 or 5 days while others, like me, were more violently sick for about 36 hours. I spent 6 hours on the floor of the bathroom wishing that I was dead. Needless to say, we didn't leave the hotel that day, although we did gain the strength to manage some pool time in
the afternoon.

We had only one full day left, so we got up determined to make the trek to the famous Citadelle. It didn't matter that both us had some toilet time that morning and couldn't hold our breakfast down; we were going. A taptap to Milot, a town outside Cap, and then the climb. Most people take a moto 3/4 of the way up and then hike or donkey that last stretch. We were stubborn (I have no idea why) and hiked the whole thing...that is, until we both realized that we were so weak from our sickness and from not eating, that we might pass out on the way.

Halfway up, we accepted a moto ride, only to have the moto break down before he reached the stopping point! So we were back to climbing, slowly and painfully, stopping frequently to rest and encouraging one another with thoughts of how amazing the Citadelle would be.


Everyone has told me that the main reason to go to the Citadelle is the incredible view. This is what we saw when we got to the top.

We were completely fogged in. We could barely see 10 feet in front of us so we had to satisfy ourselves with just exploring the inside of the fortress.

We left the Citadelle when it started to rain. Because of the rain, it wouldn't have been safe to take a moto, so we hiked the entire way down, still food-less and feeling like death. We taptapped to the hotel in the rain and arrived soaking wet to the great amusement of the hotel staff. A classic ending to a ridiculously catastophic day.


Chops said...

Wow! Jealous. This is where the Haiti tourism business can take off. I had no idea Haiti had a colonial city remaining.

Jackie said...

SO not jealous! (Because of the hurling/spewing) Full of admiration at the perserverance of you 2! The photos at the Citadel are incredible and the "This is what we saw" cracked me up. You are a born storyteller for certain. :)

Emily Grace said...

Oh wow! Cap Haitien was the first city I visited in Haiti. We climbed the whole way, too. Of course I was 14 at the time and it was not quite exhausting. Sometimes there are "tour guides" to explain the history of the Citadel. It's quite a dark story. Incredible structure nonetheless.