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7542: Routes and Points (fwd)
From: Jedidiah <email@example.com>
The new outbreaks of road closings has prompted
some thoughts about roads and destinations
Everyone knows that the national highway
between St Marc and Gonaive is a disaster,
non-existent in some places.
Last weekend I happened to take a drive to
Petitie Riviere l'Artibonite on moto.
Luckily I let my kousann Perdito come along,
as the road from Port Sonde was unrecognizable.
Now, this route cuts off from Route National 1
where the rice fields start. ( digression, farmers
can be seen using HAND TRACTORS to till the
rice paddies. The Taiwan influence I suppose. )
The route from Port Sonde to Verrette ( at least )
is brand new. It looks like a decent Louisiana
secondary road. This amazing strip of macadam
comes after 5 klicks of road with no pavement
at all, and dust 10 centimers deep.
The main turn off to Ti Rivye was unrecognizable.
We went past it and in the back way around about
Dechapelles. There is a huge new irrigation/hydro
installation upriver from Ti Rivye by the way.
Something besides the place cham de mars is being
I reported the wonders of this new road upon returning
to St Marc and was told (in approving tones) that
Preval built that new road. Now that Preval is gone
people are saying good things about him.
On Preval: Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't
Rene Preval the very first president in Haitian
history to attain office constitutionally, and
then be succeeded constitutionally? That is the
accomplishment that he is probably most proud of.
Now, I've been wandering the back roads that I can
find within easy range of my super cent. Inland
from downtown St Marc ( route Pivert) there is
one road which continues up the river valley.
I went about 8 kilometers up the valley into a
positive wonderland. The small farmers are working
here, and working smart. Most of the tree cover
remains even tho the plots are small. All of the
bottom land is planted in vegetable gardens of
various sorts, footpaths are swept and rocks pulled
out of the way.
Rock piles dot the area. They pile the numerous
rocks up in piles which approach a meter in height.
I do not know if this is an indigenous
practice or if they were taught this somehow.
Whatever, it is very good. Rock piles grab dust out
of the air, weeds grow and grab more dust and
eventually these rock piles turn into piles of soil!
If a couple of million rock piles could be assembled
and just LEFT TO SIT it would go a long way towards
stopping the coming starvation crunch.
Above the valley the tops of the hills are dry and
brown of course, but they do not seem to deliberately
set forest fires up there.
If one climbed up on one of those hills and looked
west to the mountains south of St Marc one could
see the nightmare counterpart to this lovely little
Within 10 klicks of this prosperous farming community
the people live on the side of hills almost completely
stripped of vegetation. They have turned all the trees
into charcoal and plant pitimil wherever they can.
Now, pitimil is a fine crop, but when it is harvested
they burn off the field. The resulting destruction of
all the microrganisms and grasses results in a final
harvest of rocks. These people do not stack the rocks,
they just set more fires and pray for miracles.
One valley south of riviere St Marc, exactly opposite
the crazy people who burn everything, the folks do
not have nearly as much irrigation as the St Marc
valley but they don't burn off the pitimil fields.
They seemingly don't even burn off the cane fields,
of which there are many.
Now, here is my problem, and Haiti's rural problem.
Literally within sight of each other, different
communities pursue farming practices which lead
to life and prosperity, and conversely, to
poverty, starvation and despair unto beggary.
In a natural system the stupid farmers would simply
die off. They've lost the survival race thru
refusal to learn how to farm in this overpopulated
We don't allow that however, and keep the stupid
farmers going by feeding them and trucking in
drinking water so that they can continue their
havesting of rocks and despair.
The continuation of such disparities, and allowing
of ecocidal land tenure seem to be a partial result
of excessive respect for property rights.
If someone has tenure over a piece of land they
are allowed to commit whatever crimes they wish
upon the land. Even if those idiocies result in
almost immediate damage to the health and lives
of their neighbors.
Out on the lost coast road around Cap St Marc there
are plots of burned off pitimi ( with no one living
within 10 klicks ) next to plots growing trees
planted within the past 10 years.
It is even possible ( I just learned ) that these
plots are all actually owned by the government
and leased out, with no control whatsoever over
how the land is treated.
Back to routes.
On Tuesday the 27 I rode up into the hills above
PVille. Driven back by rain, I went up to Boutilliers,
visiting there for only the second time. That would
be a nice spot to launch hang gliders from, or
para wings. For the coming tourist boom of course.
I continued on from the lookout and discovered that
the road becomes that horrid slash across the mountain
that so disfigures PauP. The entire side of the
mountain, a very steep mountain, has been blasted
and cut away to create a most primitive road.
I saw one other motorcycle on it in an hour picking
my way down. It is basically passable only by moto,
as the continuing erosion eats away and covers it
up constantly. One can hear the mountain falling down
The expanses of fragile rock thus exposed attract
stone miners, who deliberately eat away at the
mountainside even more, to get a few pieces of stone
that might be big enough to sell if they can be
carried 5 klicks back up the mountain to a roadside
There are country houses covered up by the landslides
created by this monstrous slash.
There are also plots of almost virgin forest and
coffee and cacao surrounded by stripped pitimi
All of this is on the hillside looming over downtown
Port au Prince. This is a disaster not waiting to
happen, but happening in little pieces every day.
The next hurricane that comes over that range will
cover the Olaffson and many other homes in its
path with mudslides.
Later that day I was told that cutting that road
was Rene Preval's idea. I don't know if that is
true or not, but someone is responsible for
this slash on the jugular of PauP.
Jedidia Daudi Lyall,
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