During Christmas vacation, I brought my friends to Zanglais, the beach retreat center on the south side of the island where I used to take the youth group every year. I thought perhaps time and distance had exaggerated the beauty of the spot in my mind, but when we arrived, it was every bit as wonderful as I remembered.
A long sandy beach with marvelous waves. Lawns of real grass. A gazebo for playing cards and making music. Delicious meals cooked by local staff. A small mountain peninsula overlooking the bay. Gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.
There are no photos to capture the magic of the daily excursions I went on, clambering up the steep mountains behind the retreat center, through stream beds and past natural springs, over cow pastures and under mango trees, along little paths used only by goats. I saw flowers that I've never before seen in Haiti and got stuck in thick vines under a canopy of trees. Trees! The Gonaives side of the island has been thoroughly deforested, leaving us with desert, but at Zanglais, 3 hours south of Port-au-Prince, you can still find remnants of the natural jungle that this country used to be. My hikes were the most joyful and invigorating hours of each day.