Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Into the Mountains

The word Haiti is derived from an indigenous Taino name for mountainous region. From up above it`s easy to see it`s not a misnomer as mountains cover over two thirds of the country.

I've always admired the mountains from above, flying back and forth between different villages, but at the same time I wondered about the people living in the tiny houses dotting the steep slopes, miles from any passable roads. What was their livelihood? How did they survive?  What did they do for water?

This past Saturday we had an opportunity to learn a little more about the mountain people and see their way of life for ourselves when a friend generously offered to take us up and down the steep and sometimes treacherous mountain paths in his ATV (all terrain vehicle).

The sky was beautiful when we left that morning reminding me of  the words of Psalm 19:1; "The heavens declare the glory of God... "

The ATV, with our experienced driver, was able to do what no regular vehicle could; make it's way through the mud, over rocks, up steep inclines, down sharp drop offs and across narrow ledges.

At one point the trail was so bad even we got stuck!

But thankfully, with a a little directing from Jason, and expertise from our friend Pat, we were able to continue on.

As we approached a small village, I marveled at the terrace gardens covering the steep slopes.

Our friend Pat explained that gardening was the mountain people's livelihood.

As we continued on, I soon noticed that many of the mountain slope I saw, regardless of how steep, were covered with gardens.

On the roads we met many people carrying vegetables.

Up and down the steep and winding mountain paths they went,

carrying their heavy loads of vegetables for miles to the main road where it could be sold and packed into large taps taps, before being transported down to the capital.

For those who could afford it, horses and donkeys shared the loads.

On the really steep inclines we would see them resting for a moment, as their burdens were heavy and the journey was long.

Even children, some no older than five, did their part.

The mountains themselves were covered with numerous springs of water. Passing them, we would see people stopping for a drink and washing and organizing their vegetables into neat, salable bunches.

Although their homes were small, the people looked happy and greeted us with friendly smiles and waves.

Some of the homes were quite nice, and since they were made from wood rather than concrete, reminded me of the homes of the early North American settlers. 

Others seemed a little more 'slapped together', but were still functional. 

While others, like the one pictured below, were down right pitiful. How could a tin house like this keep out the elements of rain, wind and cold? I wondered. Especially since the temperatures were much cooler up here than in the rest of the country. 

We climbed higher and higher all the while admiring the changing scenery. 

We passed through more tiny villages, 

admired the craftsmanship of more terrace gardens,

greeted the mountain people we met along the trails,

and traveled past fields of stone hedges,

until we reached a pine tree forest.

In the forest, we stopped to examine a sinkhole in the forest floor.

Then, a little further along, we parked in a clearing and headed toward the Seguin waterfall. The fresh scent of pine needles was intoxicating as we walked through the magical woods.

Colourful moss decorated the bark of the trees along the way.

We could hear the rushing waterfall before we spotted it through the tree cover.

Reaching the banks we pulled off our sandals and waded in. The water felt cool and refreshing.

Studying the flora and fauna I couldn't help but admire Haiti's diversity and feel awe for our Creator who designed every intricate detail. 

As the hours of daylight began to fade we headed down the mountain and were quickly engulfed by clouds. 

What a beautiful day.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that's really amazing. What a beautiful part of Haiti!