I (Lexi) woke up with diarrhea this morning, which made our seven-hour drive back from Cap-Haitien in the north pretty miserable. A dose of Loperamide and some Haitian buyi (flour, sugar and spices mixed into tea) seems to have done the trick for now. Ben and Brian were sick yesterday in Okap.
Okap is the Kreyol name for Cap Haitien. It’s a much smaller city than Port and quieter. It has narrow streets and colonial-style buildings painted pink, blue, yellow and teal.
Our trip was a history lesson. We visited the town of Fort Liberte where the first African slaves were brought into Haiti during French colonial rule. On the edge of town, Fort St. Joseph is crumbling into the sea. We waded in the water and found starfish and sea urchins. The water was warm and crystal clear. It was the first time since we arrived that I feel as though I’ve moved to the Caribbean.
We drove east to the Dominican border where we watched people crossing the river to avoid paying customs fees. Trucks, tap taps and moto taxis were full of Dominican goods that will be sold in Haiti – produce, toilet paper, chickens. UN soldiers guard the bridge that is the official border crossing.
It was raining when we drove to Milo to visit the Sans Souci (“No Worry”) Palace, built by Henri Christophe, former slave and Haiti’s 2nd king after independence. We hiked up a cobblestone path to the Citadelle. It was cool and windy and the view was spectacular. An artist tried to sell us paintings of the Citadelle: “cheaper than K-Mart” and a flutist followed us playing Auld Lang Syne (looking for tips?). Work on the Citadelle was begun in 1805, the year after Haiti successfully overthrew the French.
It wasn’t until we got back to Gwo Jan and checked our email that we heard about Tropical Storm Fay. We had 4 or 5 emails from friends and family wondering about the hurricane that apparently hit Haiti two days ago.