Haiti Travel Stories, Page 8

Bienvenue Port au Prince Haiti

Welcome to Port-au-Prince, Haiti the sign says, I agree, I was glad to leave Petit Goave, a very boring city. It would be hard to say Port-au-Prince is boring.

This photo was possible because I can pull a camera, and shoot, in seconds. I was riding by in a bus moving rather fast, I noticed the sign wrapped in chaos, and took the photo.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Ayiti - Monday, November 23, 2009
Travel Gear

It took about 3 hours to go 40 miles. The old American School Bus was slow to leave Petit Goave, then a problem with the tire. I changed buses in Leogane and again it took a long time to leave. Once I arrived in the city, I needed to stand on the corner looking around all friendly like until someone helped me.
I said,
“Champs de Mars,” a reference point given by the Lonely Planet, nobody recognized the park.

I finally said,
“Rue Pavee and instant success, they stood around with me, making sure I got on the correct Tap Tap. Like I said,
“Welcome to Port-au-Prince.”
This is not a war zone, rather a tame city which has trouble putting up street signs.

I have been avoiding this type of vehicle, looked cramped to me, no such luck in Port-au-Prince. The good people of Haiti put me on one of these; I believe a different version of a Tap Tap. I made a video of the trip, I watch it, the music was so loud in the Tap Tap it somehow wiped out all the street noise.

On arrival to Rue Pavee, I went directly to a Travel Agent, and asked about a Planet Ticket, I bounced off the first agent. The prices of ticket were double the Internet prices. I took a pause, decided to purchase a plane ticket at the proper price, would take a couple of days living in Port-au-Prince. I need to wear-the-travel-agent-down. More or less, sit politely in the office a few times until she tells me the truth.

I look over at Mathew, a cling-on that attached to me as I walked into the Travel Agency. He spoke good English, something about living in the USA. I asked if he knew a Hotel, he said something like the Palace Hotel, which sounded expensive. I said, 500 Gourde, he thought about it. He know one for 600 and another for 500, so I said,
“I will give you 100 Gourde to walk me to the 500 Gourde Hotel.”

We agreed, I am now in a room for 600 Gourde, he was not correct on the price. However, what a great location, two blocks from the Travel Agencies, and three blocks away from the actual Palace. I think I am dead center in the middle of the action of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

600 Gourde is about 15 Dollars, I would say, 600-750 Gourde are easy prices to find in Haiti, I have gotten 500 twice, but with more arm-twisting than most traveler are up to.

The little guy Mathew said,
“Do you believe in Jesus?”
I said,
He says,
“That is why we found each other.”

His name is Mathew, and mine is Andrew, there is rhyme to the reason.

I believe in couple Travel points:

1. We always make it to our destination, few people fail, because let’s face it, we really do not have much choice, once we leave, we have to go somewhere.

2. The path always shows itself, if you do not try to control the situation. All we need to do is listen to the answers; to questions we did not ask.

Bienvenue a Port-au-Prince Haiti

I Will Call You Back Travel Tip

Running an International Business is a challenge; few people understand how to call overseas. I have three telephone numbers, Skype.com, Local SIM card, and the Verizon HTC USA number. I have decided, this is too confusing for business calls. Yes, I run an international business. I need to manage telephone calls with Public Relation firms and Advertisers.

I am international, they are not.

How many times do you call overseas per year?
Per month?
Per day?

I call this part of my “Inquiry Handling System.” A businessperson will now have to fill out an online form, submit their telephone number, and I will call them.

Petit Goave, Haiti - Ayiti - Monday, November 23, 2009
Travel Gear

After years of travel, I must accept, only about 1 in 10 of these people can successfully call me overseas. There are many reasons the call fails.

1. Fear, they just have a fear of overseas calls.
2. Code to leave the USA
3. Cost, they think it will cost them outrageous amounts of money.
4. Time zones, they cannot interpret time zones, especially when I am in Asia.
5. The call takes 10-15 rings to connect, they let it ring 4.
6. The telephone relay switches confuse them, and they hang up.
7. They give up easy.
8. They do not want to lose face and ask people for help.
9. They say to themselves, I cannot call you; you are out of the country.
10. Country code of my current country, they do not know how to find.

This is fun, I enjoy learning how people think. The operation of business is not to manage people, but to remove obstacles to production.

I Will Call You Back Travel Tip

My Haiti Motorcycle Accident

I was in a motorcycle accident. It happened in Les Cayes when I was on the back of a motorcycle taxi. They call them Motos, and if there is an adventure to Haiti, it is the Motos and Traffic.

I define Adventure Travel when a person has the possibility of being killed. I know readers want me to be kidnapped, or attacked by rebels; I am more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident.

Petit Goave, Haiti - Ayiti - Sunday, November 22, 2009
Travel Gear

What happened?

I went to the market, was walking back to the Hotel, flagged a Moto down, the driver was going very slow, being very cautious. Another very fast Moto passed us, and instantly crossed over in front of our Moto and parked his Moto.

We tipped over to the left spilling all the tools and junk on to the pavement. When I hit the ground, I scraped my left elbow, and then pulled my leg over something sharp on the rear of the bike, making a three-inch minor cut.

I may have come out this unscathed; except I was trying to make sure, I did not fall on my back where the camera was located.

So what does Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com do after a motorcycle accident, besides bleeding? I take photos, see my shadow, I had to do this very quick, the driver went over to argue with the other driver, if he was smart he would have secured the motorcycle to the side of the road, but that is not the way these countries work.

He was angry, I was laughing, and everybody was losing their cool. I walked up the driver, pushed 20 Gourde against his chest until he took it, then walked on down the road. In situations like this, people do not react rationally. I needed to leave the scene, but I did not want him looking for me for 50 cents US, that is why I paid him. A sense of justice, right and wrong, what is fair is less developed, in less developed countries. The further down the primitive scale you go the more the excitement, there is nothing soft and gentle about these poor cultures. The people of Haiti are not helpless, they are ready and willing to protect themselves.

Can a person from a developed country take care of themselves? Or is a person from an under-developed country like Haiti better equipped to deal with the world.

My Haiti Motorcycle Accident

Time for Lonely Planet to Change Their Name

The new name is “Flashpacker Planet.”

I read advice today that is redefining the theme of the Lonely Planet guidebook. I was studying the city of Puerto Plata in the north of Dominican Republic when I came up on this quote.

“A taxi to or from the airport cost US$25. Cheapskates can also walk to 500m from the terminal to the main highway, where they can flag down a gua-gua to Puerto Plata. (US$1.20)”

He called me a Cheapskates

I have purchased about 50-70 Lonely Planet guidebooks, I must call myself a rather loyal person, not that there is much competition, but still, I know the book, and have no problem recommending readers to purchase. Generally rich or poor, a person is silly not to purchase a Lonely Planet before they visit a country. Or Footprints, Roughguides, or Let’s Go, I think moon may have a few worth buying.

Miragoane, Haiti - Ayiti - Sunday, November 22, 2009
Travel Gear

Maureen and Tony Wheeler. Co-Founders of Lonely Planet Guidebook.

“series of travel books aimed at backpackers and other low-cost travellers.”
Quote from Wikipedia.org

The book calls me a Cheapskates
Saving $US 23.80, this will pay for one, if not two nights in a Puerto Plata Hotel. The travel writer did good, he told me the price of the Taxi, this is just correct, the book is a guide. But in the spirit of the Aussies who founded this line of Guidebooks, I think he has lost the plot. This splurge mentality, this flashpacker way of life has invaded the book, it is not the Lonely Planet I learn to love.

I spend more money in one year of travel than average USA worker makes in one year.

The Beginning of Lonely Planet
There were old hippie trails between Australia and England, whereby travelers would save money enough money to live for a year to make the journey.

Right now, there is a person dreaming of coming to Haiti who is reading this Blog, or even the Dominican Republic. A college student, a person searching for a dream. They are afraid, they want to know, how much money does it cost to live in Haiti for two months? How much money to live in Dominican Republic, lying on the beach and windsurfing? What can this person do, they are not slackers, they are not cheapskates. Normally they are your sons and daughters, they are college students who feel the need to explore the world, but they just do not have the big money.

What do I know? I would guarantee 99 percent of the travel writers of the planet are sitting in their house, not traveling while I travel 99 percent of the time.

Responsible Travel
This is the go green travelers; this is the new story, the new buzzword, the new generation. There are two reasons a responsible traveler would take the gua-gua for US$1.20.

1. Saves energy, and lowers the amount of pollutants entering the atmosphere.
2. The BIG ONE is because 25 Dollars is about two days wages in Dominican Republic. For a person from a rich country to pay an exorbitant price inflates the local economy, making the cost of living go up for a person who truly cannot afford it.

I like the people of Haiti; I generally like the people I meet in all countries along the path. However, when the United Nations and Non Governmental Organizations, Missionaries and all the save-the-world people come to here, I think to myself,
“They do not care, or they would not over-inflate the local economy.”

The people of Haiti are competing with me, I have the money, and they do not. If I agree to pay the ridiculous prices, asked by Hotel owners, where will the locals sleep?

I was in Krabi, Thailand on the mainland, the locals could not afford the three wheel taxis called Tuk Tuk’s. Every driver was waiting for a foreigner to over-pay, the locals had to walk.

The theme of all the Hobo websites is budget travel, I am always making more money, and I can easily afford to pay my way through. But what about my nephews and nieces who are about to graduate from University can they afford to dream. I want them to travel the world on budget, learn to find good values. There reason the USA economy is in trouble, it because they never saved money for a rainy day.

What is the US$23.80 I would save?

That is the price of a hotel for three days. If I save US$23.80, I do not have to live and work in the USA for three days, plan a successful escape.

BBC purchased Lonely Planet in 2007.

Time for Lonely Planet to Change Their Name

Losing Interest in Haiti Fast

The place would be great, if I had not been to Africa five times. In many ways this is like China, you can order food, move around, but incredibly difficult to find an intelligent conversation. The language of business here is Creole; they do not speak French or English. They try to speak Spanish all the time, but do not know more than two words. I have yet to meet anyone with an education over third grade.

Yes, of course, I can go find educated people, but I came understand the culture of Haiti, not to hunt for rare cultures.

Miragoane, Haiti - Ayiti - Saturday, November 21, 2009
Travel Gear

The Lonely Planet devotes a whole chapter to Haiti Vodou. (Voodoo) Yet, where is it? If this is a major part of this country, I should be able to see something, I see nothing. I just am not in the business of making something out of nothing. This is not my first experience with Voodoo, I spent five months in Togo, went to Togoville the birthplace of Voodoo, I know Voodoo.

Port-au-Prince is a Tourist Disaster Area

Port-au-Prince, the Capital and center of everything and nothing is a zero on my wish list; I cannot muster the energy to explore the place. In what world does a city merit attention that has and does nothing, then wants you to pay 50 dollars for a Hotel room. I know why people pay it, to protect them from Haiti, not to visit Haiti.

Well, on Monday, I will venture into Port-au-Prince and hunt for a Travel Agent, if that does not work, I will go the Airport. After I am finished, I will get on a Tap Tap and head toward Cap-Hatien in the north.

I do not think of Port-au-Prince as dangerous, I think of it as expensive, the world poster child that lives close enough for a five hour flight to visit. The country is the ideal NGO-ONG, United Nations gives money to poor countries project. I am a country kid, I know when city folks are being stupid.

Please, the solution is simple, the people of Port-au-Prince, everyone inside, you need to move to a city away from Port-au-Prince. Do this and your life will be 10 times better. Immigration to the large cities has gotten out of control on the planet.

If someone wants me to live in Port-au-Prince a few days, I guess they need to Donate 200 Dollars, I am not going to pay to live in a zoo in a cage. I am more than willing to take a Tap Tap from one end to the other, I am not willing to pay for a room.

Losing Interest in Haiti Fast

Haiti Wooden Sailboats Ships and Dugout Canoes

Here are photos of wooden sailboats, large container ships and wooden dugout canoes. The majority of these photos were taken in Miragoane, Haiti.

This is the Caribbean Sea; even man has a tough time destroying the beauty. This photo taken in the harbor of Miragoane Haiti.

Miragoane, Haiti - Ayiti - Saturday, November 21, 2009
Travel Gear

Haiti Wooden Sailboat in Miragoane, Haiti.

Haiti Wooden Sailboat in Miragoane, Haiti.

Pig rooting around in front of fish market in Miragoane, Haiti, there are many discarded shells of Conch.

Miragoane, Haiti Bay, Harbor or Wharf.

Catholic Church with Sailboats Docked at the Miragoane Wharf.

Container Ship in Miragoane, Haiti.

Wooden Sailboats in Petit Goave, Haiti.

Large Wooden Sailboat in Petit Goave, Haiti.

The pivotal reason why the lakes, oceans, seas and rivers of the planet are polluted is because man uses them for a toilet. Man knows that water washes away the filth of the planet. Contrary to any beachfront dreams of paradise you have, living on the ocean coast is not where the mass of people want to live. The water is an acceptable place to dump trash because people do not live on the water; they must move inland farther, water is an inhospitable environment.

Haiti Sailboats Ships and Dugout Canoes

Map to Petit Goave Haiti Hotel

They asked 50 U.S Dollars, I am paying 17, and still double the true value, maybe this is a 7-8 Dollar room where compared to global tourist values.
I am paying 675 Gourde now in a Hotel called,
“MyTech Resto Bar Motel.”

Why do Hotels cost so much, because people lack the moral indignation to say no. I am 100 percent sure I am on the moral high ground; I know the value of a Hotel room on planet earth. In addition, I spent 14 years as a Real Estate Broker; I know the value of Real Estate and can do the math.

Bottom line,
“Owners of Hotels will lower the price to what they feel is morally correct.”

Miragoane, Haiti - Ayiti - Friday, November 20, 2009
Travel Gear

The Hotel is great, I just had to twist the arms of the brother and sister who manage it. There is a steady stream of wanna be Haiti yuppies entering to eat and drink.

Relais Hotel in Petit Goave
65 U.S. Dollars per night.

I took a tour of many Hotels in Petit Goave, this over-priced, but elegant Hotel was the first one on the tour. It has to be Historical, but gave me the feeling of being “Hotel California Haiti.”
“You can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave.”

There was nobody, zero, a big nada, nothing going in the Hotel, like living on a desert island and having to pay. Why would I pay to live on a deserted island? I would for sure recommend it for a group of 10 with more money donated to them by a Church in the USA. More or less, bring your own party, but then again people on mission over here don’t drink, or do they.

The second on the tour was even funnier, a truly nice building, took 30 minutes to track down the owner. He asked 50 Dollars, I said,
“Ce’st fou.”
My French is rusty, but I think I said, this is crazy.
The man goes down to 30.
I started walking to the door.
He says why.
I get on the back of the Motorcycle Taxi.
He says 10.
He would have went lower.
I had to force the Moto driver to leave.
I do not rent rooms from outrageously dishonest people.

Fun stuff, he then proceeded to take me to two short-term Hotels. The first one was good, up front and wanted 750 Gourde, however was so far outside of town, only a man with a women to hide would find the place. The other one was 500 Gourde, I said yes, the Moto left. The man says, I have to pay 1000 to check in now, he said it was 500 after 7:00 PM, I said he is a nut.
I then asked,
“Is this a place to F…k.”
He knew the word, and spoke some rather good English.
He said,
I said,

I took another Moto to the Market, I spied the sign that said Motel on the tour. I think the Haiti people cannot read; for sure, the Motorcycle drivers cannot read signs. It was a fun trip.

Generally, in poor countries like Haiti, a person needs to be close the Market. If not, there just is not anything to do, a person needs people around for both safety and the reminder we are still alive and kicking. If I walk into a Hotel and there is nobody around, some girl better be following me.

I suppose I could have got an oceanfront room on the Caribbean Sea. This is not a room on the sea; what is it?

I found some more bark to eat, truly this Canelle Tree taste good, it has to be organic.

Map to Petit Goave Haiti Hotel

Cinnamon in Haiti

I like to eat wood. I have found some good Cinnamon bark to chew on here in Haiti.

Cinnamon looks like Cinnamon, what is this stuff?

The locals call Cinnamon “Canale” or something like that, I am sure I spelled it wrong.

Miragoane, Haiti - Ayiti - Friday, November 20, 2009
Travel Gear

I think this is part of the Cinnamon tree, but I not sure. The man in the Miragoane market was helpful; however my French fails me on specific questions.

What is this?

Cinnamon in Haiti