March 26, 2014
7.25 We are at the bus station in Cap Haitien, on a very hot tap-tap to Ouandinthe, at the border. It should be 3 hours to the border. Let’s hope so. The bus is full, I guess we are leaving soon. Breakfast at the Croissant d’Or. It’s nice to go back to a place you’ve been before, it feels like home. There’s a bad foot smell here. I am starting to think they are Luca’s feet! The usual chaos and a lot of rubbish, in the streets and in the canal. It’s a shame, considering how beautiful and tidy the town centre is, so different from Port au Prince!
Shortly after the departure we had to stop to inflate a tire. Luckly there are mechanics everywhere along the roads, and in a couple of minutes they fix everything. Maybe calling them “mechanics” is a bit too much. They have two pieces of iron and one air compressor (fuelled by gas), no garage nor office. They do everything at the side of the road in a few minutes, the driver doesn’t even need to turn the engine off.
9.44am Au revoir tap-tap et “Dieu tout Pouissant” (printed everywhere, from the tap-tap to the banks, the walls of the houses, in any place), bienvenidos gua-gua and “Cristo ya viene”. We are in Dajabon, on a gua-gua to Monte Cristi, our destination for today. I hope the hotel is ok because we need to rest a bit! We lost a few euro exchanging the gourde into pesos (we did it in the street with a man we met by chance, there isn’t an authorized exchange bureau), but we saved 40 dollars each coming here by tap-tap instead of Caribe Tours: 25 dollars (-5 that we spent for the public buses) for the bus, and 20 for the Haitian border (at the Caribe Tours office they asked 30 USD each for the customs taxes, 10 for the Dominican border, that we actually paid, and 20 for the Haitian border, that we weren’t asked to pay when going out). This confirms that when you travel in groups of foreigners many people take advantage of it, it’s better if you travel independently when you can. Sure, maybe their bus was faster and more comfortable, but our journey wasn’t too bad. Tha tap-tap was full but after half an hour many got off, and the gua-gua has air-con and is comfortable, everyone with its own seat. According to the Lonely Planet it should have taken us three hours to get to the border, while in one and a half we had already crossed it.
It was fun, when we arrived in Ouanaminthe, as soon as we got off of the tap-tap we were assaulted by about 20 bikers, everyone offering to take us to the border. Luca was strangely quiet, he shunted aside a couple of them and lit a cigarette, keeping quiet. We had to take a motorbike, but he couldn’t stand to be assaulted like this. Watching him made me laugh, knowing that he probably was much angrier than what he showed, and I explained the drivers that we needed some space or he was going to break out. At the end we took one bike each and with less than one dollar we were at the border. First office and stamp to get out of Haiti, hundred of meters of walk along a wide road, and the border on the other side. We were followed by a group of people that wanted to exchange our gourdes. The first that offered had the best rate, so we went back to him.
6.30pm Monte Cristi. So beautiful, so quiet! Now I realize Haiti wasn’t easy at all. We pay 650 pesos, about 12 euro, for a room that has no window to the outside, and that when we fart they can hear from the reception, but it’s clean, large and it smells good. Two coffees cost us 30RDS, in Haiti it wasn’t this cheap not even by the street. We had a dish each of rice with kid, and I’m really full, I wasn’t used to eat so much anymore. Internet is everywhere and free, not like Haiti where we had to go to luxurious hotels and pay. People are kind and smile at you, nobody is angry or violent, the buses don’t need to steal passengers each other.
In Monte Cristi the beach is a bit far and not that nice, I don’t think I will bath, but in the centre there are people and it’s pleasant. There’s a supermarket with an aisle dedicated to tampons, a working ATM machine is just outside our hotel. It feels another world. People here live well. Earlier we saw a guy driving a Yamaha R1 (Luca said).
We are the dock now, it’s lovely. Four men brought something to drink from home and are here at the end of the dock waiting for the sunset. Nice.