Woooah some crazy days. I haven’t had enough internet to post for the past few days.
July 30th took me from Les Cayes to Port Salut, along some gorgeous Caribbean coastline:
In the hills around here, you can see the battle between deforestation and afforestation:
Port Salut is a lovely seaside town, and it works that to generate a bit of a tourism industry. There are small hotels and seafood restaurants. I forget if I took this photo in Port Salut, or one of those other towns, like Port-a-Piment. I was later told the statue portrays a Haitian fighter with his foot on a blue-helmeted head that says ‘Minustah, Cholera’. Wish I’d gotten a better photo:
The next day, the 31st, I went to Les Anglais. Just before Les Anglais, the road stopped being paved for the first time on my trip. What fun! This bike is way too good to only drive on tarmac. I was passing more disgustingly pretty Caribbean beaches:
And some rivers dried up by drought, and landscapes blasted by deforestation: But look at this majestic mapou tree fighting for a greener Haiti! When you get to Les Anglais, the first thing you notice is this big solar power plant: The hotel I stayed at was growing its own moringa trees. This is the sort of grassroots reforestation project you’re supporting when you donate: The 1st of August was a nightmare. I mentioned the roads stop being paved just before Les Anglais. I spent the first hour of the day cycling on flat, unpaved roads. This was fine. I got to help out a kid whose bike was broken down (I’m travelling with basic tools to repair bikes.) and chatted to a bunch of guys making charcoal: After that, you hit the town of Tiburon, and the road suddenly turns into a steep shale path. It’s hard to walk up, much harder to cycle up. I was climbing for three hours in the hot sun. When I finally reached the peak, I was on my last nerve, and ready for some fun downhill mountain-biking over rocks. But that lasted one minute before my tyre blew out. After 30 minutes trying to fix it, I decided it was beyond repair, and walked on. It turned out I’d been only a few hundred meters from a farming community the whole time. A guy there took his motorbike to town to buy me a new inner tube. In the meantime, the whole community gathered around and quizzed me about my trip, my nationality, my family. I am used to this, but as I say, I was extremely physically tired, and frustrated about the tyre. Of the forty or fifty people who had gathered, everyone was cool, except for one guy. This one guy was stoned, paranoid, talked more than everyone else put together, and got really in my face. He was also gesticulating with a machete, and really ruined my experience of being stuck in that village (called something like Pa Kafou) for the two hours it took for Richardson to come back with my inner tube. Past Pa Kafou, the climb doesn’t get any easier, but it’s worth it. Some of the ocean views are so beautiful that you could almost be forgiven for thinking you’re in County Kerry:
I arrived in Les Irois dog-tired just before it got dark, and asked the cops if I could camp in their courtyard: On the 2nd, I left Les Irois early, and took a lunchbreak in Dame Marie. Sitting waiting in the restaurant, two American guys I know from Port-au-Prince wandered in: “Conor! What are you doing here?” Well, lemme tellya…
After Dame Marie, I got a bunch of flats, which were would have been easy to fix except my ticky-tacky pump (bought in a Port-au-Prince market) barely works. This slowed me down considerably and I had to stop for the night in Chambellan. Chambellan is a very charming town on a river, surrounded by breadfruit and mapou trees. You should totally take someone there if you’re trying to be romantic. (Photo uploading just stopped working. Go see it.) Here’s the lads playing football on the main street in Chambellan. The crowd dispersed and they stopped every time a truck came past.
Somehow, in spite of all the difficulties, I managed to cover over 40km a day. I’m taking a few days off cycling now by a nice… relaxing… hike up a mountain, macheteing my way through jungle… I may not have thought this through. Pic Macaya is Haiti’s last bit of remaining cloudforest. It has bird species, spider species, plant species, that exist nowhere else in the world besides Pic Macaya. I’m gonna go camp in the cloudforest for a few days with a friend, then back to seedbombing from my bicycle.