Cap-Haitien ~ Haiti travel pictures
Site of Sans Souci, Citadelle, Hotel Roi Christophe, Mont Joli
Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second largest city, is about 130 kms (81 miles) north of Port-au-Prince, the capital, on the north coast of the island of Hispaniola. I came by highway from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and crossed the Haiti - DR border at Dajabon to Ouanaminthe. From Cap-Haitien, I went west to Labadie (Labadee).
Cap-Haitien City is Haiti's Second Largest
Seen from afar, Cap-Haitien looks much like any other port.
The population figures are hard to verify and vary wildly -- no one goes door to door taking a census.
Cap-Haitien is Haiti's second largest city; Port-Au-Prince, Haiti's capital, is the largest city.
Current estimates set the population at about 500,000, though it could be much lower.
There are often outbreaks of mosquito borne illnesses like malaria and dengue here, as in much of Haiti, so follow medical advice before you go, and use a mosquito repellant that contains DEET.
Carry some high-protein bars with you, too, and a personal water purification system (available at many outdoor and camping supply stores).
Cap-Haitien Homes Ramshackle, Built with Found Materials
Cap-Haitien close up gives a hint of the poverty within.
The tin-roofed, 1-2 room houses, basically shacks, stretch for miles. Though there are areas with concrete buildings, they are few and far between.
Air mattresses, clean water systems, insect repellants and multivitamins and a reliable supply of nutritious foods, especially high protein grains, would make an enormous positive impact in a very short time frame.
So, too, would basic dental and medical care.
American Paul Farmer (author of The Uses of Haiti) did some census taking on his own initiative, in and around his clinic, as chronicled in the excellent book by Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains (those of you interested in learning more about Haiti will enjoy both these books).
Near Cap-Haitien market On the Street
There's an entrance to this market at Rue L (L Street) and Rue Twa (3rd Street). Rue L is also the Route National -- the main highway. The city is laid out on a grid.
Pavement, where it exists at all, is in poor conditon.
I took these photos from the van; I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible.
As a blan (foreigner), I stood out as someone with money. It's best to keep a low profile.
Cap-Haitien street with Cars, Shops
The mid-week traffic was stop and go, bumper to bumper through this area.
The van overheated and stalled (yet again) in the middle of the street, but several men got behind us, unasked, and pushed till it re-started.
In some sections, the roads were paved, though not recently. In many sections, we bounced along potholes and puddlles.
Cap-Haitien market area Cars and Carts
The street here was paved, and like many, edged with a gutter that trickled with sewage
From my journal:
Haitians all shake your hand when they meet you, even those at the border who call themselves guides, and the police doing random checks.
(The guides were the boys and men hanging out at Ouanaminthe in hopes someone would pay them help then go through customs and immigration.)
Straw hat vendor at Cap-Haitien market
These straw hats seemed to be the brightest and newest of all the goods offered for sale here at the market.
The largesse of charity could be seen in the clothing and shoes offered for sale on the street:
It appeared to be straight from a North American thrift store -- out of fashion for many years, and well worn.
Many Haitian men were wearing newer T-shirts and slacks. Some women wore dresses, and teenage girls all had on the style of cotton tank top that was currently in fashion in the U.S.and Canada. Most everyone wore plastic flip-flops -- thong sandals.
Laundry day west of Cap-Haitien
On a hillside, laundry is done in whatever stream is available.
Laid out to dry on bushes or the ground, the hot sun 'bleaches' out the worst of it.
My overall impression was that people were very neat and clean, which I know is not easy in their circumstances.