Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dominican Republic and Haiti

Santo Domingo and Dominican Republic proved to be what I have heard and expected. Lovely colonial centre is full of historical buildings, small and lovely restaurants, evenings full of Bachata and Merengue music... I wish I could have more time to spent here, my heart is aching to leave this beautiful country already tomorrow, but my flights don't wait. I even managed to find sauna at my hotel, Hotel Palacio, and it felt heavenly to have a chance to have a sauna after 8 hours bus drive from Haiti back to Santo Domingo.

I visited Haiti and it's second city Cap-Haitien on the northern part of Haiti. It was long 8 hours bus ride from Santo Domingo to get there, but I'm glad I decided to visit Haiti. I met the most kind and loveliest people during my trip over there. Of course Haiti is poor and poverty is visible at the villages and citys, but it's quite similar than in Nepal, where I have been many times. Both countries are listed as among the world's 50 poorest countries list by the UN. Although TV and media is showing only news about the natural disasters, violence, armed soldiers entering Haiti and poverty, the reality is not that black and white. I have learnt already that I don't believe the view media is giving us, because it's always the propaganda of others. You have to see and experience by yourself to get understanding and feeling what kind of place our world is to live.

Countryside of Northern Haiti

News doesn't tell you about the beauty of the nature in Haiti, the amazing people and the friendliness I encountered there, I have not met anywhere so far. I didn't felt unsafe during my trip, there were not signs of earthquake in the northern part of Haiti. Of course there were doctors and nurses from other countries still helping patients, who are still at hospital. There were UN forces (MINUSTAH) from Chile and Uruguay around Cap Haiti.

Jose, UN soldier from Chile

I met Lucian Body, with whom I had long discussions about Haiti and the people. He is the one of the most helpful and kindest people I have met. He has been working as a chef at Bahamas and Dominican Republic, but is now unempolyed at his hometown Cap-Haitien. His aunt were killed by earthquake at Port-au-Prince and his nephew and uncle severiously wounded. His uncle lost both of his legs. He is happily married and proud father of 3 months old daughter, Carjioly, which I met, when he invited me to his house. If there are somebody reading this blog from Haiti or somebody who have connections over there and would need a cook / chef, please contact Lucian Body. He can be contacted via Mont Joli hotel. I will recommend him for his extraordinary hospitality and friendliness. He can speak fluent english and good spanish in addition of French/Creole.

Lucian and Carjioly Body at their house

During the couple of days I encountered both ultimates on my trip. On wednesday I was relaxing and lying on the sandy beach of luxury Marriot hotel at St. Kitts and Nevis reading Dominican Republic & Haiti Lonely Planet guide book with rich and wealthy American tourists. On Friday I was on northern part of Haiti at Cap-Haitien and saw the streets full of mud, garbage, shelters where people were living. The contrast were enormous, but on the other side the contrast of people as well. At Haiti I was facing such a friendliness and kindness which is outstanding.

View to river at Cap-Haitien

Street at Cap-Haitien

Only two countries to go, Bahamas tomorrow and then Venezuela :) I'm really looking to finish this trip and head back home...

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