Thursday, January 10, 2019

Musee de Guahaba

Along National Highway 1 in Limbe in northern Haiti is a small museum of pre- and post-Columbian artifacts found in northern Haiti. Medical doctor and amateur archaeologist Dr. William Hodges led expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s, along with the University of Florida, to unearth artifacts created by the Taino and other native groups who lived in Haiti before Columbus and Europeans landed, and in the 1980s created the museum to display them (more info here). While some of the wording is reflective of western attitudes of Dr. Hodges era, the museum is a nice presentation of the history of Haiti, including the colonial slave period. Hours aren’t posted, just stop and look for the caretaker who has the key. I gave him a small donation for letting me and my friend see the museum. He explained some of the paintings, and perhaps would have explained more if we had more time to spend there. Allow an hour if you want to read everything. We were able to briefly look at most everything in 20 minutes. Signs are in French and English, but unfortunately the red ink of the English has faded on many signs. While the stone, ceramic, and metal artifacts seem stable, the displays are showing age and the entire museum could use a cleaning and upgrade. I work in a nearby university – contact me if you are interested in training students and others as to how to preserve this museum!


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Restaurants in Cap Haitian

Cap Deli veggie pizza and passion fruit juice

Cap Haitien has many restaurants – here are some. All seem to take American money and credit cards. Please don't order lambi (conch) - they are endangered!

Cap Deli - This restaurant is along the main road Buccaneer (Blvd du Cap-Haitien) that runs along the bay and port and as a pizza and burger joint is a good place for lunch within walking distance of Hotel Roi Christophe. It has covered patio seating upstairs with views of the port, or dining inside. See menu photos, lots of vegetarian options, slowish service but interesting views for waiting.

Lolos - Also within walking distance of Hotel Roi Christophe, Lolo’s has outdoor partially covered seating in a nice ambiance of Haiti art and outdoor lighting – a nice place for dinner. They make their own pasta! I’ve had the flatbread, and pasta with alfredo sauce, but my favorite was the pumpkin spheres because they are so different. They are gooey melted cheese balls with a pumpkin puree coating. Because there is only 3 and they are rich, they would be better with a salad, or small side of pasta. See menu photo, vegetarian options, not horribly slow service, nice ambiance for waiting.

Auberge Villa Cana – Walk through the hotel property towards the back and you will come to the restaurant (see this post for hotel info). I didn’t take a photo of the menu but remember it was typical Haitian food, and maybe burgers, with not many vegetarian options. The Haitian spaghetti with no meat was very good, and they have juices. Typical slow service.

Lea Market – This is a relatively new modern grocery store on Rue 5 Blvd (see facebook page) that has a deli (sandwiches and juices) and western-style foods (imported mainly from Europe) – cheese and dairy products, wine, good chocolate, packaged and canned foods. It is very clean. They don’t give goudes as change if you pay in American dollars.

Cap Deli menu side 1
Cap Deli menu side 2

Lolo's menu - front side

Lolo's - making pasta

Lolo's dining area

Lolo's yummy pumpkin spheres

Friday, December 21, 2018

Hotel Roi Christophe

Hotel Roi Christophe is a quaint hotel in Cap Haitien, not far from the main road people call Buccaneer (Blvd du Cap-Haitian on the map). It is in a colonial-era building which gives you a close-up experience with the history of Haiti. The rooms are comfortable, with ceiling fan, tv, mini-fridge, and hot water. Complimentary breakfast comes with the stay: eggs, oatmeal, or Haitian spaghetti, with fruit, rolls, and coffee. The restaurant also serves lunch and breakfast. There is a pool, conference rooms, and nice gift shop. Also a ticket counter for Sunrise Airline.

The best part of the hotel for me is all the trees and plants in the courtyard. Yellow-crowned night herons nest here! Plus woodpeckers, banaquits, and palmchat. The endangered white-necked crows and plain pigeons also visit! Unique statues and iron-work, and some canons decorate the grounds.

The hotel is within walking distance (<10 min.) from several restaurants and a tourist souvenir area next to the water. Lots of typical Haitian arts and crafts, but also some unique items, like paper mache birds. Some people are pushy about getting you to buy something, but for the most part it is easy to say no and walk away.

Hotel gift shop

Mozzarella plate

Entrance to the Cap Haitien tourist market

Booths at Cap Haitien tourist market

Thursday, December 13, 2018

UCNH - birding and academic hotspot!

One hour west of Cap Haitien, off of Rt 1, sits a university whose founders and subsequent presidents prohibited cutting of trees. Today Université Chrétienne du Nord d'Haïti (UCNH) and the surrounding area of Haut Limbe is home to over 30 species of birds, and is a relaxing place to enjoy large trees full of lianas, bromeliads, and other life you’d expect to see in a tropical forest. Parakeets fly by every day and sometimes hang out on campus, warblers make it their winter home, and woodpeckers, palmchats, red-tailed hawks, and banaquits raise their families here. If you are up for a hike, there are great views from the surrounding hills and you might see a loggerhead kingbird, merlin, or plain pigeon.

UCNH also has a snack shop, copy center, bookstore (academic books in French), and library. Agronomy students have a plant nursery on campus, and you can visit a cacao grove and learn about chocolate. Perhaps while visiting you’ll get to see a performance by the fine arts students. Contact me if you’d like to set up a tour and a budding ecotourism student can show you around and take you birding.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

A sisal factory!

Plantation Dauphin is an old sisal plantation and factory, built in the 1920’s across the bay from Fort Libertie on the north coast of Haiti. Not only is it a piece of Haiti’s booming sisal history (#1 in the western hemisphere in the 1940s), there are birds, as well as fish and other coastal life, such as sea urchins and jellyfish. It is an easy walk around the old buildings, and a cement wall allows you to get close to the sea life.

male and female kestrels

jellyfish and fish


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Tragedy and history at Caracol

I recently visited Caracol Haiti, east of Cap Haitien, with other birders to see all the shore and water birds that still visit the mangrove that has been mostly cut down.  Now salt flats sit where a lush tropical ecosystem once grew.  Yet a variety of birds use the salt pools – we saw 21 species in less than 2 hours, plus unidentifiable warblers.  How many more were there before the mangroves were destroyed?  FoProBiM is an NGO trying to restore the trees, yet it seems like a futile task if people aren’t educated about the importance of mangroves, which I am now more resolved to do in my university and school classes. 

In additional to the surprising variety of birds is the evidence of the history of the area. Conch shell midens, evidence of native pre-Columbian activity, were unearthed where the salt pools were dug, as well as broken pottery from the colonial era.  There is also a canon sticking out of the mud!

Mangroves reduced to salt pools and cow grazing
Trying to reforest the mangroves

Exposed midens of conch shells (all those white things)

Plate shard

Canon in mud

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Vue La Montagne Lodge

Front of the hotel - you can't see it when the gate is closed.

While on an expedition near Kenscoff, I spent 2 nights at Vue La Montagne Lodge near Fermate.  The road to it is off of Rt de Turin near Thomassin 38. Turn at the sign on the stone wall.  The entrance is the first gate on the right – it is not marked!  It is a small guest lodge, with hot water and wifi, and fans in the rooms.  The room I was in was on the front side of the building, so didn’t have a view of the mountains, but a walk down the road gives you a view and birding opportunities.  It had a small place to eat in, with the menu posted on the wall.  We all ordered the legume plate for dinner each night, it was a mix of pigeon peas and green peas with carrots and other vegetables.  One night it came with fried potatoes. They have cold drinks, and complimentary breakfast with coffee.  It is a well run and simple place to stay. As of this posting date, google maps says they are permanently closed, but they are not!
Look for the black gate! Hotel is there.

Turn here and go down the road to the black gate.

The legume dish.