Monday, December 26, 2011

Hillside gardens

My last Saturday morning in Haiti my guide took me on a hike to the large cave that’s 2.5 miles from UCI, which isn’t that far, but the 730 ft rise in elevation in ½ mile is tough. We had made this arrangement before I got sick that week, and since I had been there last year, I knew what a steep hike it was, so the day of the hike I said I’d like to go to the smaller, closer cave instead. He said yes. Knowing that my guide says yes when he doesn’t always understand, I reiterated – The small cave. He said yes. I reiterated – The cave that is close. He said yes. Well, we ended up going to that far cave which turned into a 5.5 hour hike! The route didn’t seem like the way to the small cave. The stream crossing confirmed that we were indeed going to the farther cave. Oh well – that’s where I originally wanted to go and I was feeling a bit better. Only I didn’t have enough water for that long of a hike and ran out before we were heading back.

The way there seems very long because of the steep climb, it took us about 3 hours. My guide said he can make it in an hour. We were birding along the way, I was taking pictures, and I wasn’t used to this kind of climb. Last year he and his sister did the hike in flip flops. The same bottles of reddish Corona beer were there, along with the cat skull and chicken bones. We heard the bats fluttering around this time, didn’t hear them last year.

The gardens along the way were amazing. Not that they were large and productive, but that anyone could garden on a steep rocky hillside. There were small plots of corn. Gourds, pigeon peas, and banana trees were tucked away everywhere. On rocky terraces (mesiks, see picture) people planted manioc, potatoes, beans. We saw older men and women out there harvesting their vegetables. They must be in super shape! The hut in the photo is a little garden plot.

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