Saturday, April 23, 2022

Les Trois Rois Hotel

While I was away from Haiti for 2 years, a new hotel Les Trois Rois was built along the beach in Ducroix, between Cap Haitian and Labadee. I didn’t see a sign along the road, look on a web map to find the gate. The hotel is beautiful and felt like it was very old, in a good way, with stately wood accents. There is direct access to the beach, just steps away from the hotel pool. When the tide is high you can sit on the deck and enjoy the waves lapping below. There is both indoor and covered outdoor seating for meals. A group was having a meeting there, and another was celebrating a wedding.

The lunch and dinner menu is a variety of fish and meat and limited for vegetarians, but the standard bannann peze, pikliz, and vegetables are very good. The breakfast was super good! Coffee, fruit, soup joumou, and kasava which was suitable for my new gluten intolerance. Some of the rooms have balconies, all have AC and hot water and are roomy.

For my nature-exploring side it was limited due to the small area of the grounds and being right along the main road. There is a sort of tidal pool at the corner of the deck to watch crabs and aquatic isopods, and brown pelicans landed in the water nearby. From the 3rd floor balcony we saw a white-crowned pigeon and other birds in the treetops across the road. Go to the nearby Cormier Plage grounds for a meal, or along the road higher up to see more birds.



Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Haiti 2021 - still a hiatus!

My assistant continues my Bio101 class that was interrupted by the COVID shutdown.

I left Haiti in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic caused the world to hunker down. But in fall 2020 I resumed teaching my Bio101 class via prerecorded videos from which my assistant taught. Knowing the students in the class helped maintain somewhat of a connection with them. We wrapped up that class then proceeded into the actual fall semester, beginning in Dec. 2020, with Bio102. Not even halfway through the semester, in Feb. 2021 more political upheaval in Haiti shut down the country and classes. So we all wait to see what happens next.

Update - The spring 2021 semester started in mid-April 2021. They are slowly catching up. May update - starting another round of Bio101 and Bio102!

A new set of Bio101 students exploring the outdoors in Apr. 2021.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

How to make a Haitian meal

 My friend Lydie showed me how to make beans and rice, onion sauce, legume (vegetables), and bannann peze (fried plantains).

Start beans in lots of water, with salt (I missed the bean preparation).

Clean rice (pick out rocks, blow out chaff) and rinse twice.

Put rice in cooking beans, turn up gas high to boil, when water evaporates stir and put on lid. Turn down heat and cook about 10 minutes, stir, turn down heat even more.

Meanwhile cook veggies in oil: lettuce leaves cut up, chayote cut in half and peeled (remove heart) peeled carrot chunks. Stir and cook about 5 minutes then add chopped onion, pepper, tomato, garlic, and some magi. Cover and cook. Add a little water later and stir.

While everything is cooking, peel and cut up plantains. Wash the pieces. Heat a lot of oil in frying pan, stand back and add plantain. Fry about 5 minutes until yellower then turn them and cook more. Turn some more and it gets yellower.

For onion sauce cut up tomato into a sauce pan then add some oil and cook. Add a tablespoon of butter or margarine, cook more, then add 2 cups of water and ‘a little’ (a spoonful) of rock salt. When sauce is almost done, add sliced onion.

Remove the plantains, fry cooked meat in the oil, then remove.

Meanwhile crush each plantain between two plates. Dip each piece in a bowl of salt water, then fry in the meat oil. Turn once and fry around 5 minutes.

Put everything on plates and bowls, garnish with tomato slices, and eat!

First frying of the plantains.

Onion sauce and squashed plantains frying.

The legume - vegetables

Friday, February 21, 2020

Citadelle 2020 Part 2 - The views

Here are some photos from the excursion to the Citadelle! It was overcast with low clouds at the Citadelle, but full sun at the Palace.

Palace San Souci, from the road above.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Citadelle 2020 part 1 - the road there and payment

Too many people trying to help!
On a Monday in February 2020 I took a visitor to the Citadelle! Rather my Haitian friend took us and helped us navigate not only the road there but payment. Let your Haitian friend take charge of all payments! (I didn’t and overpaid the horse guides). Here is what we did. Hope it saves others from confusion! And you need a really good truck with good motor and clutch to go up and down the mountain.

The drive: 7 hour round trip! Left UCNH in Haute-Limbe at 6:45a. Go earlier if you want to go birding. From Rt 1 we turned south onto the nice road through Akul, then went south through Bois Rouge and popped out on the main paved road that goes south to Milot. 8am arrive at the tourist payment building at Palace San Souci, after we picked up a guide who was standing on the street outside a nice gate/walled area. He had a badge and rode with us in the truck bed. FYI he spoke Creole, French, and Spanish, but very little English. My friend ended up translating. 9 am arrive at Citadelle parking lot. 9:40a arrive at Citadelle whether you rode a horse or walked. 10:30a left Citadelle. Noon back in truck at tourism building and left. We returned on the road that runs along the south edge of the Cap airport. 1pm arrive at Rt1 out of Cap. 2pm pull into UCNH.

At the tourism building: They give you the list of prices (see photo below). We only paid the entrance fee of 2300 gds for 2 foreigners and 3 Haitians. They couldn’t make change! The guide exchanged smaller bills with us. Supposedly you can pay for all services there and not be charged later in the main parking lot right below the Citadelle. At the tourism booth they charge $15US (1500 gds) for a horse (then you tip your 2 horse guides). But it’s cheaper to hire a horse on your own at the parking lot above. Which I didn’t know, and paid 2000 gds and told the 2 guides to split the extra 500. Didn’t know my friend had negotiated 1000 gds for a horse. At the end we gave the guide 3000gd. And I paid for gas and use of my friend’s truck.

Souvenir sellers: Be prepared for all the art and souvenir sellers in both parking lots. I put a predetermined amount of cash in my pocket, small US bills. And spent only that. They will ask $10US for a wood bowl. Then when you get in your car to leave, they will say you can have 2 bowls for $5US! I had to roll up the window and close the door, they are very assertive.

The horse ride up: Choose only horses that have the hibiscus logo branded into the horse. My vet friend trains the horse owners to care for the horses and gives the brand to those who passed. I took a horse (Tako) so I wouldn’t be so tired at the top, but it’s not a bad walk. Steep but smooth stones. The horse is too bumpy for bird watching and they didn’t stop much.

The building where you pay the entrance fee for Palace San Souci and Citadelle.

The hibiscus brand on horses managed by people who received training in horse care.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Belly Beach bird hike

Fort Belly

The real reason I wanted to stay overnight at Belly Beach was to go birding. Get up early and head up the stairs to a rocky road that sits above the bay. There are unique rock formations, a nice view of the bay, and a little fort my guide called Labadee Fort, and google maps labeled Fort Belly. There are typical birds – kingbirds, Antillean mangos, warblers. And also white-crowned pigeons which I have only seen once in Haiti, in the south.

Walk up the stairs from the hotel

Rocky road

Spanish moss

Cruise ship at Labadee