Friday, July 19, 2013

Bassin Bleu

One of our day trips while in Jacmel was to Bassin Bleu. Hidden in the hills above the picturesque town, Bassin Bleu consists of a series of natural rock basins arranged in cascade, successively pouring water into one another.  

(Since it was a truly spectacular day, I decided it deserved a post all of its own.) 

Early on Saturday morning both families  piled into a land cruiser. Our morning commute began by passing through Jacmel's  town center. 

Reaching the outskirts, we barreled our way through a busy market.

The market sprawled out to the edge of a busy river. In the river people were washing themselves, their animals, their laundry, and their motor bikes! It was also being used as the local watering hole for cattle. 

Since there was no bridge, pedestrians waded through the nearly waist deeper water to cross over to the other side.

Our driver, who had obviously done this before, zigzagged through the river to find the shallowest route. 

Safely on the other side we were immediately greeted by billows of dirty smoke. Apparently our route to the basins cut right through the local dump!

I tried not to breath as the smoke billowed through the open windows. 

Thankfully we were soon past the dump, and the landscaped changed to jungle. Looking out the window I admired the majestic palm trees scraping the azure sky.

The palm trees eventually gave way to acres of banana trees. 

A short while later we parked, got organized and prepared for the 20 minute hike.

Every now and then we would stop for a quick break.

We soon reached the lowest of 3 basins.

The second was larger than the first.

We stopped to watch water from the second basin cascade down to the first.

To reach the third basin, Bassin Bleu, we had to descend down a steep rock wall via a rope. 

Our Haitian guides, who have done this numerous times, helped carry the kids down.

Bassin Bleu was beautiful! 

We cliff jumped, swam, and admired the natural beauty of the towering rock formations covered in lush, tropical  vegetation.  

After we all had ample opportunity to splash and play we hiked back down to where the land cruiser was parked. 

Back in the land cruiser we snaked our way down the mountain, around the jungle, past the banana and palm trees, through the smokey haze of the burning garbage dump, into the churning river and safely out the other side. 

We passed the markets,

and explored the town, 

until we reached a picturesque hotel up on a cliff. There we paid our driver, bid him goodbye and headed to the restaurant for a bite to eat.

The view from this deck was also spectacular. 

Down by the shore fishermen pulled in their nets filled with treasures from the sea. 

The kids enjoyed the pool,

and we enjoyed our lunch of burgers, fries, sandwiches and spaghetti. 

When we were finished it was time to catch a ride back to our hotel. 

Since our first driver was no longer available and the tap tap drivers we called were all busy, we divided ourselves up between five motorbikes. .

The engines revved and off we went.

We cruised slowly through the streets.

I smiled up at the sun as the wind whipped through my hair.

"Yeah!" said Justin, always up for an adventure.   

A short time later our hotel gate was in sight once again. We were back safe and sound!

What a fun day!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Little Summer Getaway

Thursday, July 11 

The Toyota's tires dig into the mud as I maneuver my way to the airport. Although Tropical Storm Chantal had dissipated several hours before it was scheduled to strike the night before; it left in her trail a steady drizzle that had turned the dirt roads into a sloppy, muddy mess. 

My mind is spinning. 

Only a few days earlier our team had left and I'm still not finished all the work that comes along with hosting a group. There is still more laundry to be washed and folded, food cupboards to be checked and restocked, and journal entries to be posted. 

Besides that, I didn't have much time to pack for our little getaway to Haiti's south coast. What if I had forgotten something important in my haste?

It's too late to go back now, I remind myself. No use worrying about something you may have forgotten. Plus we really could use a little break. 

So far this summer has been really busy; with MAF short staffed Jason has been working 6 days a week for over a month. It had taken a little organizing to schedule a few days off and it would not be easy to change the dates; even though I don't feel quite ready to go anywhere, and the weather isn't what we had hoped for.

It's also been 8 months since our last mini vacation and that one hadn't gone so well. Over American thanksgiving we had flown with friends to the Dominican Republic to visit family there. Already feeling slightly ill on the trip over, I had continued to get sicker until I ended up in the hospital with Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever and nearly died.

I slow down a little to avoid splashing a pedestrian as I roll through a giant puddle.

Just make the best of it and try to relax.

We arrive at the domestic terminal a few minutes later. I motion for some baggage handlers to help me carry our bags and then head on through security. Once our baggage has been weighed and manifested, we head out onto the tarmac. 

My two little helpers push the baggage cart to the waiting airplane.

We meet up with our friends the Van Maren's who had just caught a flight from Pignon to Port au Prince and are ready to join us now.

Once airborne, my muddled thoughts begin to clear and I simply enjoy the view.

We cross over the bay and I admire the different colours in the water. 

The clouds begin to lift as we leave the city behind us. 

Looks like the weather might not be so bad after all!

The city gives way to mountains.

Twelve minutes later Jacmel is in sight, along with beautiful blue skies!

At the airport Jason hails a tap tap.

We pile in and head on over to a charming boutique hotel located above a picturesque cove.

Tall palm trees tower overhead.

I pause to admire a bright hibiscus blooming on the grounds.

We enjoy the spectacular view from the balcony.

Words fail to describe the beauty we see!

Lunch consists of tasty club sandwiches and fries.

Since breakfast was a long time ago, the food disappears in a hurry.

After lunch we head down to the beach.

We dig our toes into the sand and build castles on the sea shore.

When the castle is finished and our bodies our gritty with sand, we splash, dive, play and kayak in the turquoise water. 

Dinner that night is delicious pizza.

The boys wake up early the following morning and enjoy some time swinging in the hammock.

A pretty bouquet of fresh flowers greets us on our breakfast table.

We enjoy a tasty fare of crepes, toast and eggs.

Our friends join us a little later, (apparently their kids are a little better at sleeping in).

We spend our days exploring.

Collecting rocks.

From 2013B
Enjoying pretty views.

Watching waves crash against the shore.

Catching hermit crabs.

Studying katydids up close.

Admiring tropical flowers.

Hanging out with friends.

Splashing in the pool.

Relaxing in the hammock.

And staring up at the coconut trees.

Am I ever glad we went!