25 – 27 January 2013
I had some practical things to do in the morning so I didn't leave until 10am. After some searching I found the taptap to the mountain town Kenscoff – though I was last on and therefore had to stand on the bumper the whole way – funny to experience the surprised faces of the locals....one thing is is a blanc taking the taptap but standing on the bumper for an hour..... It took about an hour and since it was uphill all the way it got a bit tiring holding on. I had read I could take another taptap from Kenscoff to Furcy or even further to Carrefour Badyo, but everybody told me there was no taptap (even people without a moto-taxi). The alternative was walking or taking a moto-taxi and since I was a bit late I decided upon the latter. 30-40 moto-taxis where fighting for the trip so it took some minutes to find a friendly looking guy with a good price. It was a beautiful ride up the mountain through the forest but to my surprise he took me to a lodge outside Furcy. I insisted on going to Furcy as agreed so we had to go back 10 minutes to the main road. He kept going and after a while on a very bumpy, rocky road he stopped and told me it was Carrefour Badyo and the price was 2½ times the agreed. I told him I didn't ask him to take me there and therefore couldn't pay for it. After some minutes of discussion I gave him 50% more than agreed based on the time we drove – he complained but I could tell from his eyes that it was a fair price. I wasn't to unhappy iether as it was a bit late and it saved me an hour of walking.
It was already noon and dark clouds were gathering over the mountains - no time to waste so I started walking. In the beginning primarily downhill but quickly it was only uphill – more or less steep. I had read and been told about the fantastic views, but due to the weather I didn't see much. The hike follows the South-North road over the mountains, so it's easy to find but the distance I had no idea about. When I started I locals told me 2 hours, 1 hour later 3 hours and 2 hours later 4 hours – if I hadn't known better I would have thought I walked in the wrong direction, but as many people around the world Haitians don't have a notion of time and distance. After 2½ hours I reached the top of the mountain and instantly the climate changed. From dry and rocky it changed to lush forest – and then it started pouring down which lasted until I reached the auberge ½ hour later. The locals carry primarily fruits and vegetables to the markets in and around PaP and other products back (thus the name "the human highway"). Consequently there is never a lonely moment – always local people around which could have been cosy but more often was a nuisance since they kept begging... for money, my bag, my sandals, everything...... I tried to be polite but my pleasantries in French and Creole just let them to believe I spoke the language which seemed to spur them on. At the auberge I got my tent up, had a cold shower and relaxed during the afternoon – talking with Francois who ran the place while the owner was away. Later he prepared a great dinner – delicious and plentiful. At over 2,000 metres it got chilly at night so I used my sleeping bag for the first time on this trip.
People told me it was a 4-5 hours, less interesting hike downhill to Marigot on the Southern coast which didn't appeal to me. And since I had already seen Marigot and Jacmel and taken the scenic drive over the mountains, so I decided to walk the same way back which would also give me a second chance to get a view of the mountains. I also decided to take a "day off" before heading back – as the clouds come in late morning I did an early morning walk to the only town in the area Seguin – fairly busy as people come from everywhere to trade their goods. I also took a hike South of town to get a view of the coastline – though I didn't succeed and headed back towards the auberge. First however, I took a walk in the forest and found a quiet spot to relax until 1pm when I was shrouded in clouds. It was Saturday so a number of “blancs” arrived after doing the hike – all aid workers from PaP. Funny they call themselves volunteers as that for me means working for free - maybe it has a nicer ring to it? During the afternoon I had an interesting conversation with 2 Canadian guys but later at the dinner table it was less interesting – all conversations in French and all about aid work and the difficulties they experienced in Haiti (didn't they have the day off...?) - so I turned in early.
Up early next morning and after a great breakfast I walked back towards Kenscoff. First a peaceful walk through the forest and then I finally got to see the mountains that everybody had been telling me about – gorgeous. It turned out to be a great day – the weather and views were beautiful and ignoring people made it a much more pleasant walk (not very polite but it worked). Since I had lots of time I walked all the way back to Kenscoff to the big surprise and disappointment of moto-taxi drivers. I was in Kenscoff early afternoon and quickly got a taptap to PaP. In the bus I had an interesting conversation with Peterson - a local guy who spoke very good English (he's a translator). All-in-all an nice trip without being spectacular – I was particularly happy that I returned the same way I came from.