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28996: Durban (response): 28990: Peterson re. visiting Haiti (incl. Cap Haitien) (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

I had intended this as an off-group response to Audrey Peterson's
recent post wherein she mentions she would love to go to Haiti, but for
all of the scary comments she hears...  then I decided maybe others
would be interested...  LPD <lpdurban@yahoo.com>


Oh what the heck!  Just screw up your courage, book a flight to Haiti
and come down for a week.  Spend a couple days over at the Oloffson...
try to include a Thursday night to catch RAM's Thursday night jam
session.  Let me know when you're coming and I'll see about getting you
a car and driver for the obligatory trip up to Fermathe, the Baptiste
Mission, and Kenscoff beyond.  Then, the next day, catch a flight to
Cap Haitian (US$120 round trip from Port-au-Prince... there are at
least 6 or 8 flights every day on 3 different regularly-scheduled
airlines... Caribintair charges $126 round trip, but with these guys
make sure to insist that your suitcase is on the same plane you are!).

Spend a night at Cap Haiten's in-town, super nice Auberge du Picolet, a
class act for $80 a night (Owner Michel Dupuy, Tel. 262-5595, may even
pick you up at the Cap Haitian airport as he did for us on our first
stay).  Then, you've got to get to Labadee... but don't spend $50 the
way most foreigners do.  Take a city cab from the Picolet to Rue 19,
Portail Labadee (that's 25 gourdes... $ .63), where there are always 3
or 4 pick-up trucks queuing for passengers.  It's another 25 gourdes
for the rough 8 mile ride to Labadee in the back of a pick-up, but what
the heck, this is your holiday and you want a good view, so give the
driver 50 gourdes ($1.27) to sit up front with him!  He'll be delighted
and probably offer to take you to the Citadelle after your couple of
days at Labadee. The pick-ups leave every 30 minutes or so... as soon
as they fill up.  Labadee is a village of several thousand souls who
live quite well thanks to 2 or 3 Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships
visiting every week.  You can spend a day on the RCCL beach, of course,
but for a room you'll want to take a water taxi to Norm Zarchin's place
 <www.normsplacelabadee.com>.  Norm, a displaced Texan, and his wife,
Angelique, lead a laid back lifestyle that you gotta admire... and
enjoy while you are there ($25/night, extra for meals with the family).
 After a couple of days on the various nearby beaches, you'll be ready
to hook up with that pick-up truck driver...who almost certainly lives
in Labadee village... for a tour of Henri Christophe's mountain
fortress, the Citadelle.  (hint: a pick-up with 4 wheel drive is a good
thing since it can easily get you to the second parking lot and a 15
minute walk to the top... otherwise it is a 2 hour hike up from the
bottom).  Depending on time you MAY be able to catch a flight back to
Port-au-Prince after your Citadelle visit, but that's pushing it.
Better to plan another night at the Picolet... good food there or at
Les Jardins de l'Ocean a French-influenced restaurant (good food, slow
service) within walking distance of the Picolet.  The next day, taxi
fare from the Picolet to the Cap Haitien is 100 gourdes (US$ 2.54)
Trust me, by the time of your flight back to Port-au-Prince the next
day, you'll be planning your next visit and wondering why you ever paid
any heed to all of these nervous nellies on the Corbett List.

Lance Durban