Market Day in Ile A Vache
06 March 2014 | Ile A Vache, Haiti
I was commenting to Bill today that since we have been in Ile A Vache we have been completely scheduled up. That is so different than the past few months have been. On Tuesday we had to be ready for the water taxi to pick us up at 8:00am, yesterday the boat boys were coming to work on the boat at 8:30am and there was dinner on shore at 6:00pm. Today we had to meet our guides for the walk to the market on shore at 8:00am. Tomorrow we have an appointment at 10:00am, we can sleep late!!
Yesterday went OK. We expected a crew of boat boys to come do some work on our boat. Only the one we had agreed to hire came. We told him we had expected at least two so he found someone else to come work for us. They cleaned all our stainless and they washed the decks - which were incredibly dirty. Our boat will never really look good and clean but it was certainly a lot better. They worked for about six hours and I gave them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, goldfish crackers, Lorna Doone cookies and lemonade for lunch. We paid them $20 each for their day's work which might have been high but we think some people pay better. In the middle of the day they saw a new sailboat come in and Bill could tell they were itching to go and be first to greet them and ask for work. They were brave enough to ask Bill if they could borrow our dinghy, with the engine, and no need to bail continuously, so they could beat out all their competition with the slow leaky dinghies with no engines. Bill was brave enough to lend it to them. I'm not sure if they got any jobs or not but Bill was very amused.
After we delivered the boys back to land and other boat jobs we went to meet the sailboats that had come in in the past few days. ItÂ's always interesting to hear their stories and their first opinions of Ile a Vache. We had just enough time after that to take showers and be ready for our British neighbors to come pick us up and we all went to what ended up being McKinley's sister's house on the water for a paid meal. We had both hired McKinley for a number of things in the past few days including having his mother do our laundry, which was supposed to be done that evening. We weren't sure what to expect of dinner but it ended up being just the four of us in his sister's dining room which luckily had an electric light bulb. It was very dark the few times it went out. The dinner was wonderful , lobster with sauce, rice and Haitian beans, and fried plantains. We had a very pleasant dinner and we were very glad we had brought friends with us. Unfortunately it hadn't been warm enough for all our laundry to dry that day so we were going to have to wait for the next day to get it back. No problem, I just wonder where my laundry was drying. We saw some fences made out of sticks with laundry on it in the village, that is probably how ours dried too.
Today was market day. They have the market here on this island on Mondays and Thursdays. We had hired two young men who had come to our boat and we had connected well with. Their English was reasonable and they seemed to be very pleasant. They are also related to the man who is the Seven Seas Cruising Station host in Ile a Vache. We have a couple of cruising boats we've become good friends with here, our British friends and another couple who have the hailing port of Annapolis on their boat but are really Polish Americans who live in Virginia. We all decided to use the guides we hired and we met them on the beach at 8:00am this morning. It's about a four mile hike to market but it was such an interesting walk. There were all kinds of livestock along the road and we even saw a cock fighting ring. We chatted between the six of us and the two young Haitian guides. There were other Haitians and even other tourists walking to market too. I guess part of the "tour" is to go see the orphanage that is just a little bit further up the road from the market place. We spent some time there waiting to meet the French nun who runs the orphanage. She didn't know a word of English though so we didn't have much to say to her. She took us on a little tour and we met a couple people who grew up in the orphanage and have come back as adults to work there.
The real attraction though was the market. Haitians don't like to have their picture taken by tourists, especially if they think you are going to make money selling it to someone. We knew not to try because we've been yelled at a couple of times already by people who were angry we were taking their picture. One of our guides told us it would be better if someone without white skin took pictures so we gave him our camera while we were there but another one of our group told us our guide also got yelled at a number of times too. The market place was fascinating. They had all kinds of things, clothes, shoes, medicine, live chickens, dead chickens, many things we couldn't identify and some things we actually bought like vegetables and bread. As you can see in the picture above, Bill even got himself a Coke. We have not seen any Diet Coke in Haiti! We all had a wonderful time looking around and experiencing the Haitian culture and again were extremely glad we brought guides with us.
The best thing about the day though was the ride back in the open sailboat. You can see one in the background of the picture. The six of us and our two guides waded out to the boat and there were also the captain, a crew member, and two local women, not to mention all the market purchases. We all managed to get on the boat and we had the nicest sail in this rickety wooden boat with the used sails and wooden mast and booms. We had to balance our weight to make sure the boat would sail properly. I just stayed down on the bottom of the boat sitting on a bag of rice or some sort of grain. It was such a pleasant sail though.
When we got back to our boat we had to thoroughly clean all our fruit and vegetable purchases. We looked it up and the suggestion was to use a bleach and water solution. We sure hope we did a good job! Tomorrow we are meeting with the SSCA Cruising station host and he is going to help us distribute the school supplies we brought for the children. More on that tomorrow!