14 hours to drive 219 kilometers

March 22, 2014

6.32 am, Les Cayes

My hair is a bit messy. Today we started our journey on a truck. One of those trucks open at the back, where they let good and people on. We had the last space on some wood benches. The others were sleeping on piles of brooms made with palm leaves that the truck was carrying. Luckily here they don’t drive as fast as in other places that I visited.

We woke up at 4.45 am. The owner last night told us they always wake up at 4-4.30. At 5 we were calling and knocking everywhere, but nobody came to open the gate for us. So we had to climb a 2 meters tall gate (not easy for me) and as soon as we got on the road the truck picked us up. It’s not extremely comfortable, but better than a motorbike. People wake up really early here. At 5 am, when it was still dark, there were people carrying brooms, carrying wood, going to work.

Outside the larger towns there are no gas stations; so along the road you can see kids with oil, gasoline and diesel jugs. If by the road you see a bottle of rum, it’s a different type of fuel they are selling. At 6.45 the sun rises.

Larger towns are also the only chance for foreigners to get money. Out of Port-au-Prince banks are few and even if there is an ATM, it doesn’t take foreign cards. Your only hope is if the bank has a POS from where you can get money advance on your card. But they only take Visa and with a chip. So out of my 3 cards only one works. I hope I won’t finish the money in that card before we leave of Haiti.

The truck left us in Les Cayes, where we are now waiting for a bus to Port-au-Prince. The bus is here already, actually. The driver was sleeping on his seat, but he opened the door for us so that we could drop our bags. Then we went to have breakfast with other drivers and desperate souls. A nice sandwich with spicy peanut butter and coffee tasting like honey. There’s a bus nearby with very loud music, at 7 am. The drivers must keep awake, but what about the passengers? I get they don’t need to sleep. At one point everyone starts to dance. The lady while pouring coffee, the 6 year old kid helping her before he goes to school, the other guy with his sandwich in his mouth. A nice funny scene.

I’ve already seen two limousines this morning. Probably there was a government meeting in some luxurious hotel of Port Salut. One of these passed by a man walking without shoes. The gap.

I hope we won’t have to wait for 4 hours. It would be nice to arrive in PAP at a decent time, and being able to see something. Fun thing, after being here Luca won’t be scared of Santo Domingo anymore.

It’s 10 am and we are still waiting. They are fighting with other buses (the falling down ones, ours is one of the few with air conditioning) to steal passengers one to the other. They take bags and sacks from running bikes to force the passenger to get off the bike and get on the bus with us. It would have been a dream to leave early. Why does everybody get on other buses? Maybe we should also change? Are they cheaper? Do they leave earlier? But I’m worried the other buses stop before Pap, so it’s better if we wait here. I reckon there are enough passengers now, can’t we leave?

9.50pm We are finally in Port-au-Prince. What a journey! At the end the bus left at midday, after 6 hours of wait. As if we weren’t late enought, along the way there was a rally and we waited two more hours. While the others were getting off the bus to find shelter from the heat and chat under the rare trees, Luca was restless, smoking a sigarette after the other. There was someone traveling in a more unfortunate way though, as you can see from the picture. Poor hens!

Furthermore, when we arrived in Port-au-Prince all passengers got off, with their hundreds of bags, and the procedure required some time. At 7pm we were still in town, and it was getting dark. But the wait gifted me with a nice view: the sun setting all yellow behind a wall of dust, people, and the mess of Port-au-Prince. Luckily the bus dropped us off at the stop for the tap-tap to Petionville, the most touristic and decent neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, where our hotel is. I’m curious to see this city. It scared me less than the first time we saw it, when we came here to take a tap-tap to Port Salut from Jacmel.

We arrived in Petionville that it was dark. We had to walk through the market, and a guy first tried to put his hands inside Luca’s pockets, then he almost caught me from behind, but Luca stopped him. We had no idea where the hotel was, there were no road signs. A deaf-mute boy took us to a luxurious hotel at the end of a long road, but it wasn’t ours. He was very kind. The guards at the hotel told us where our hotel was, and 15 minutes later we were there. How good the welcome sprite tasted! We had dinner at the hotel, we were scared of going out in the night in a place that we don’t know, and we went soon to bad, super tired. The room is tiny at costs 60 dollars per night, but at least we can sleep in a safe place.

Because we arrived so late and are so tired, we will stay here two nights, so we have the whole day tomorrow to visit the capital city of Haiti.