A few weeks ago I had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with ExploreHaiti and was hosted for a week in Haiti. I have to be honest, prior to my trip, what little I knew of Haiti was sparse and largely influenced by the media’s depiction of the country. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that my knowledge of Haiti could be summed up in three words: Poverty, Earthquake and Voodoo. Yes, I’ll shamefully admit that my recognition of the world’s first black republic had been whittled down to three dejected words. But I was curious, nonetheless, to see what Haiti had to offer in terms of tourism. Boy, was I in for a treat! I must admit that coming from Jamaica, I wasn't going to be easily impressed but Haiti definitely charmed me in a way that I had not anticipated. Most might be surprised to know that once upon a time, in the 50s and 60s, Haiti was one of the most popular Caribbean destinations and it's easy to see why. Beneath the rugged exterior and the grime of hardship, Haiti is a gem, teeming with untapped potential. ExploreHaiti is now at the forefront of reinvigorating Haiti's tourism brand and I couldn't be happier to help spread the word!
Our first night was spent at the stately Villa Thèrése located in Petionville, an upscale commune of Port-au-Prince . After checking in and getting some much needed rest, we were whisked off to L’Observatoire de Boutilliers for a night on the town, Haitian style. And what a night it was! The ambience was quintessentially Caribbean, albeit noticeably different from that which I had grown accustomed to in Jamaica. The sweet sounds of reggae were replaced by Konpa and even though I was at a complete loss to the lyrics, it was the sultry melody that forced me to sway to beat. The breeze...the food...and that view! The lights of Port-au-Prince twinkling in the distance some 3,000 feet below was nothing short of sublime, giving new meaning to dining with a view. At some points during the evening, I remember thinking to myself, “Am I really in...Haiti?”
On our second day we visited the National Museum in Port-au-Prince or MUPANAH (Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien) I was truly impressed by all the exhibits and artifacts on display. Haitian history is incredibly rich and it really is a shame that it is not celebrated more. After all, it is the Haitian Revolution that incited the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, an integral part of world history. It is Toussaint L’Ouverture, father of the Haitian Revolution who orchestrated the defeat of Napoleon’s revered and much storied army; no small feat. I remember getting quite emotional upon seeing the Anchor of Santa Maria. Simply because much of the country’s current plight can be directly attributed to the moment that that anchor was cast at the shores of Hispaniola. But if this trip to Haiti has taught me anything, it is that Haitians are a proud people and they don’t want pity, but acknowledgement of their invaluable contributions that have shaped the world as we know it.
After the museum we had lunch at Les Jardins du Mupanah, the on-site restaurant at the museum. Housed in an architecturally inspiring space, this restaurant is definitely a place to visit when in Port-au-Prince. The food was...amazing! Probably the best Tilapia I’ve ever had.
For our second night we were hosted at La Colline Enchantée, which translates to The Enchanted Hill. Perched atop the ‘Enchanted Hill’ were the most charming thatched cottages sprawled on acres of lush grounds and offering the most incredible views of the Caribbean Sea. I love, LOVE beachfront accommodations but waking up to panoramic views of the seawas a pretty good consolation.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of 3 of My Haitian Experience!