is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and not
a place that pops to mind when you're thinking of a vacation. True, the country
has lots of problems and there is barely any infrastructure to speak of let
along a tourist infrastructure, but what it lacks in sights and nice hotels, it
makes up for in hospitality and adventure.
Independent travel in Haiti is challenging, even for the most experienced adventurers among us.
It is extremely poor, the situation is desperate for many of its 8 million
citizens and day-to-day life for them seems to be a struggle. While times are
tough for them though, the people I met there during my five months stay in the
country were hopeful and full of life. Many of the young men are fluent in
three languages (Creole, French and either Spanish or English) and they are
dedicated both to their education and their churches. The sad thing is that,
despite all of their education and aspirations, they really don't have a lot of
places to go as there aren't many jobs around. Most were positive about the
future though and it makes me hopeful as well for where Haiti
might go in the future.
isn't well-known for its tourist attractions, backpacking in Haiti does have a few amazing
places and sights on offer. The most famous sight in the country is the Citadelle LaferriÃÂ¨re which is a remarkable
fortress located on a mountaintop about 30 kilometers south of Cap-Haitien in
the north of the country. It was built between 1805 and 1820 by 20,000 workers in
order to protect against attacks from the French. The nearby city of Cap-Haitien is also worth a look for its colourful
buildings and beautiful Cathedral.
An hour west of
Cap-Haitian after a bumpy one hour journey along a winding mountain road you
will find a beautiful beach packed with tourists playing on inflatable toys,
sipping cocktails and enjoying their holidays without having to worry too much
about the poverty of Haiti. This is a stop on some Royal Caribbean
cruises and they have made sure to keep the locals out by building a large
security wall around the beach. They lease the beach from the government and
ship people in three times a week. There is a village nearby though called
Labadie and it is a small place with a lot of character, friendly locals, a
small beach and it's surrounded by beautiful hills. Only cruise passengers are
allowed into their private beach so anyone visiting Haiti will be stuck on the other side of the fence
but, fear not, it's the place to be.
Haiti certainly isn't a prime tourist destination and a trip to the country
will not be a relaxing one but for those adventurous people out there who are
up for a challenge, it won't disappoint.