Friday, November 28, 2014

Papaye Haiti - Casava, jelly, cabbage, and a church

After leaving Hinche, the road to Bassin Zim goes through Papaye.  After making a left at the major fork in the road, look for Terezya on the left.  Make a stop to buy some cassava bread, jellies, and wine made by the Little Sisters and Little Brothers of St. Teresa, and see how it is made.  I’ve seen their yellow jars of jelly in supermarkets.  You can also see their biogas pigs and tilapia ponds.

Farther down the road is the place mentioned on the big sign at the fork in the road, Lakay Sant Nasyonal Fòmasyon Kad Payizan, which seems to be an agricultural education center for farmers (peasants).  They were growing a lot of cabbage, had charcoal briquettes made from cow manure, goats were in raised pens instead of wandering around eating everything, and were raising tilapia.  There was also a composting toilet with detailed instructions. 

Cassava mill at Terezya.
Our final stop of the day was at a retirement center for priests, le centre Emmaüs à Papaye.  The landscaping was beautiful and then we went into the church.  They had upholstered chairs!  Just like in the US!  The church was beautiful, but the chairs made me envious.   I suddenly was not in Haiti anymore.  You have to go up a flight of steps to get into the church – I hope all the retired priests can make it up!

Lakay Sant Nasyonal Fòmasyon Kad Payizan

Charcoal from cow poop.

Tilapia pond.

How to use the composting toilet.

The retirement center for priests.

Fountain outside of the church.
Upholstered chairs!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bassin Zim Haiti

I took my ecology class on a field trip to Bassin Zim in Haiti’s Central Plateau.  The road to it is in Hinche off of National Route #3.  At the last big bridge as you are heading out of town toward Pignon, on the Pignon side of the bridge look for the road that goes to the east (marked 308 in google earth).  Take this road until you come to a fork with a large sign for a peasant organization, it has the word LAKAY on it.  Take the road to the left and keep going through Papaye.  You’ll eventually see a green sign for the falls, and the road gets rocky and steeper going downhill, until it ends at the parking lot for Bassin Zim.  It might be ½ hour from the highway, but we kept making stops so I lost track (see this post for the stops).  You can see the basin in aerial maps, in google earth search Bassin Zim, Centre, Haiti.

We paid 25 goudes each to enter, and as soon as we started walking a bunch of kids came and 2 latched on to me as my guides (even though I was with 12 university students).  They helped me on some of the rockier parts of the trail and across the stream up to the cave.  I gave them each $1US at the end.

The basin at the base of the falls isn't ideal for swimming since the force of the water creates a whirlpool with debris swirling in it.  Downstream where it becomes a stream might have been ok, but there were women washing clothes at the edge of the pool.  A bunch of UN soldiers from Uruguay were having a party there and had inflatable tubes, so they must have been swimming.

The walk up to the cave is relatively easy, up steps and across a small stream.  Wear shoes you can get wet.  At the first landing you can see the basin from above and several pools leading down to it.  There is also a small alcove with stalagmites and stalactites and what looks like voudou activity.  Get back on the steps and keep going up to the main cave.  There the small stream starts from a pool that has little fish.  There are wasp nests all over the wall of the cave, as well as swallow nests.  Shine a flashlight into the cavern that is farther in and you’ll see bats.  We didn’t climb up into the cavern, so I don’t know where it leads.  The child guides knew where to spot boas in the trees.

I would like to visit Bassin Zim again with fewer people, no “guides,” and spend some time birding and exploring the streams!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Nou bezwen pwoteje zwazo yo! We need to protect birds!

This fall I have returned to the schools that I began teaching in 2009.  I go from class to class to teach that hawks (malfini) eat rats, parakeets (perich) drop seeds and reforest Haiti, and hummingbirds (wanga neges) pollinate flowers.  The first time I went to the schools all the students said they do not like hawks because hawks eat chickens.  Now nearly all the kids said they like the hawks!  And the first time around nearly all said they crush the nests.  Now they all say they protect the birds and the nests!   That is 556 kids who now like hawks and protect birds and nests!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hike to the cave

Boa hiding near the cave.
Saturday morning bird guide Louiders led my ecology students and me on a 5-hour hike to the cave Vout Santi that I blogged about here.  Along the way we saw many birds, a working sugar cane mill, people cutting trees, and charcoal being made.  Here are some pictures.

Cutting sugar cane for a snack.
Cattle turning the sugar cane mill.
On the way to the cave.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Caiman Birds 2014

Here are the birds I saw in Caiman in fall 2014.  See this post for information about spotting the rare plain pigeon.  * indicates endemics to Hispaniola.

English name Creole name Scientific name Oct. 2014 Nov. 2014
·  Antillean Mango  Wanga Nègès  Anthracothorax dominicus x x
·  Vervain Hummingbird  Wanga Nègès  Mellisuga minima x  
·  Hispaniolan Parakeet*  Parich  Aratinga chloroptera   4
·  Cattle Egret  Krabye  Bulbulcus ibi x x
·  Plain Pigeon  Ramye  Columa inornata 2 2
·  Common Ground Dove  Zotolon  Columbina passerina x x
·  White-necked Crow*  Kaw  Corvus leucognaphalus x x
·  Hispaniolan Palm Crow*  Ti kaw  Corvus palmarum x x
·  Smooth-billed Ani  Boustabak  Crotophaga ani   x
·  Greater Antillean Grackle  Mèl Diab  Quiscalus niger x  
·  Prairie Warbler  Ti Tchit Zèl Jon  Dendroica discolor   x
·  Cape May Warbler    Setophaga tigrin x x
·  Black and White Warbler  Ti Tchit Demidèy  Mniotilta varia x x
·  Palm Warbler  Ti Tchit Palmis  Dendroica palmarum x  
·  Ovenbird  Ti Tchit Dore Seiurus aurocapilla x  
·  American Redstart  Ti Tchit Dife  Setophaga ruticilla x  
·  Palmchat*  Esclave  Dulus dominicus x x
·  American Kestrel  Grigri  Falco sparverius x x
·  Hispaniolan Woodpecker*  Sepantye  Melanerpes striatus x x
·  Black-crowned Palm-tanager*  Kat-je Tèt Nwa  Phaenicophilus palarum x x
·  Hispaniolan Lizard Cuckoo*  Tako  Sauruthera longirostris x x
·  Broad-billed Tody*  Kolobri  Todus subulatus x  
·  Gray Kingbird  Pipirit gris  Tyrannus dominicensis x x
·  Bananaquit  Kit  Coereba flaveola x x
·  Nutmeg Mannikin  Mannken  Lonchura punctulata - intro x x
·  Turkey  Kodon  Meleagris - intro?  x x
·  Chickens!  Poul  Gallus gallus x x
·  Guineafowl  Pentard  Numida meleagris x x