20 May 2016
We almost didn’t go to Haiti as a lot of bad stories are told about getting robbed at gunpoint, or even worse killed, but we checked all the reviews on Active Captain and they were all good.
On our run from the Bay of Eagles in the DR, we had another 28 hours of motor/sailing where was the wind, we had no way of getting internet so we just had to suck it up and get there. But we started to run out of fuel and had to use the Gerry cans to top up, but the gas was dirty so the engine would run for ½ hr and then shut off, we did about 4 hours of this it was flat calm. It was a beautiful day and we thought we just need to get there and rest. As we were coming close to Isle La Veche, we finally got some wind we saw all these fishermen in dugouts, it was unbelievable, and then I looked and said look at all the sailing vessels must be a regatta, but as we got closer we realized it was sailing fishing boats.
We were greeted by a fast motorboat with a bunch of guys on it leading us to the anchorage, but off course the whole village sees you coming and everyone is furiously paddling there canoes trying to get to you first. I had about 6 of them hanging off the stern when we were trying to set. We were very glad to see that there were several cruising boats in the little bay. The bay is lined with palm trees all the way around it what a picture.
After anchoring we talked to Felix on the motor boat and he assured us he could hook us up with some fuel not to worry he would take care of everything, he was nice young man with a great smile, he spoke very good English and told us he had spent some time in Maine. All the young men were trying to get my attention so I starting talking to them and they spoke English, they go to school until grade 3 on the island and they learn English. Everyone wanted me to write down their names and their profession lol. They were all in the age range of about 12-25, they were begging us to hire them for anything, and they were not aggressive at age very soft spoken but desperate. We assured them that we needed some people but to come back the next day we were very tired and needed to sleep. Felix also spoke to them and told them to leave the boat and come back later as we were going to be there for a while.
We had a cruiser stop by to give us some info on the little village what to watch out for and who was good at their jobs. We had a great sleep but the next morning there was a knock on the hull at 7 am by one of the boys coming back for a job. So we decided to hire four of them, Janelle and Cleveland did the hull with polish, not a great job but we felt that they just needed something, we paid one of them and the other one wanted a phone so we gave him an old Blackberry. We hired Winston to clean the deck and he did an awesome job, these boys only make about 3-5 dollars per day when they get some work from the cruisers. We hired McKinley to scrub the bottom as he was recommended on Active Captain; he did a great job as well. I gave Cleveland and Winston 10 US to go to the market with a list of veggies for me it was a 4 mile walk so I didn’t want to do it, and we were told that we probably wouldn’t enjoy because of animals being slaughtered. Anyway the boys came back a few hours later on Felix’s boat from the mainland with our fuel, don’t know how that happened. The fuel ended being 5 dollars a gallon with a 40 dollar delivery charge but we had no choice because we were totally out. The boys did have a bag of veggies which I ended up throwing over the side, but they also had two new hats on their head and I got no change. So I refused to pay them cause I think I got scammed, one just chuckled the other one was looking a little nervous when I gave him the lecture.
In the meantime a little boy kept showing up and saying he was hungry so I had bought a bag of lollypops in the DR to give out to the local children, but the problem was he had a fair sized boat, actually a Walker Bay fiberglass, and he would paddle back and forth with other children looking for lolly pops, after days of this I had to yell at them to get away from my boat, it became very annoying.
We did go ashore and have a couple of walkabouts and it was like something out of national geographic, they were so poor it was unbelievable, there were a lot of people with children running around in the nude, a lady was boiling a pot over a fire and she reached down and grabbed a poor chicken that happened to be pecking next to her, we were like dear god and kept going. The Capt.’s did get a lot of pictures but you had to ask them first, some said no some said yes.
We did take a walk across the island with a boy of about 12, Anshe and he gave us a lovely tour, we ended up at the American Hotel, and there was no one there but the bartender and the grounds people.
We went to another hotel that was just beautiful and overlooked the bay we asked for some drinks but the one lady said she was the cook not the waitress, anyhow when we went to pay we gave them 20 US and they said they couldn’t make change in US so we said yes that’s okay we can take come Gourde, we waited and waited and she didn’t come back, so I said to Andy you better go and see her. They were going to keep the money, so he said well we will have two more drinks please instead. In the meantime a young man approached us and asked if he could sell us a Haitian chicken, so we said yes bring one on Sunday.
On Saturday we were invited over to Felix’s for a meal, he had to hotel rooms and was offering home cooked creole food. His place was quite lovely overlooking the ocean, he introduced us to his wife who looked no more than 20 and she did all the cooking you have to tell them ahead of time what you would like, either chicken, fish, or conch, so we decided on the conch. We kept bringing plates of food to our table, fried bananas, salad, beans and rice, conch in a creole sauce, fresh fruit and a local beer. All the food was delicious and we stuffed ourselves, we got our bill which was a little steep for Haiti but we really couldn’t complain. Felix and Beatrice are doing a great job; most of the cruisers go there for a meal.
I had a young man come to the boat a few times begging for work and I had none, so he asked me if I had milk for his baby, he has a 1year old and a 4 month, so of course I was feeling so guilty I searched the boat and ended up giving him a bag of groceries, cap’n rolled his eyes and said Judy you can’t feed them all.
We had a few guys drop by asking if we had any snorkel gear they wanted to go spear fishing and would get us some fish, he said we can be trusted we are the water taxi guys everyone knows us. So we gave them an old set that we had never saw them again, they did the same thing to a Swiss couple as well no one got a fish.
Anyway Sunday rolls around so we were getting the boat prepared for the 180 mile trip to Cuba; I was below making stew and a beef casserole, when the guy with the chicken shows up. I hear the Cap’n cursing and his voice was raised which is an alarm, I go out and he has a little raw chicken in a bag about the side of a Pidgeon and wanted $45 in US for it. We were expecting a cooked chicken Haitian style, so we starting laughing at the situation, so we had no money really only a few small bills, so I told him we didn’t want it and he got very upset almost crying, so we ended up giving him a flask of rum and $5 Canadian. We took the chicken/Pidgeon and gave it to the little Annoying Lily that was still coming to our boat several times a day; we gave him our garbage with 1 dollar and the chicken for his momma, so off he went happy as a lark.