By Candice Russell
Have you ever wanted to travel to Haiti? Not as a worker in a hospital or a clinic or a builder of houses, but as a cultural consumer of what the island has to offer? Where would you begin? How would you get around from place to place? Who would you trust?
A first trip to any foreign country you’ve never been before is always daunting to plan. That’s why group travel is so popular. The organizers of such trips take the angst out of getting around and guarantee that you will see the best of that country.
According to a report in the Travel section of last Sunday’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper, there is a new 10-day trip to Haiti being offered by G Adventures. Called “Highlights of Haiti,” it includes two nights in Cap-Haitien and a visit to the mountaintop fortress of La Citadelle,the peaceful seaside town of Jacmel, a meeting with a Vodou priest in Port-au-Prince, plus a visit to beautiful caves.
The cost is $2,499 per person, double occupancy, including lodging for nine nights, most meals, internal flights, and a variety of tours. To ask questions or sign up, call 888-800-4100.
My list of questions for the company include: do you have room for solo travelers, who would pay a single supplement? Will we see a Vodou ceremony? Will we visit galleries and street vendors selling crafts?Do we have free time to explore on our own for a morning or aftrenoon? Will we see RAM perform on Thursday night at the Hotel Oloffson? (The latter, in my mind, is a must). Will you visit Kenscoff and Soissons-la-Montagne, where the original Saint Soleil artists lived and thrived? If it’s up and running, will you visit the Iron Market in Port-au-Prince? It’s a shopping experience like no other.
Having been to Haiti many times without a travel company coordinating my itinerary, I might have been relieved by someone else in charge of the planning. It’s also nice to share meals with (one hopes) like-minded adventurers who found Haiti fascinating enough to warrant a visit and maybe even plan a return.
Of course, there are advantages to going alone, too. You inevitably meet people along the way, especially in places like the verandah of the Hotel Oloffson at mealtime or the bar? Share your stories with new friends, pick up tips about where to go next or what to avoid.
People who visit Haiti are inevitably disarmed by the beauty of the country, the welcoming nature of the people, the color everywhere (man-made and from nature), and the sense of industry that never lets up, even on Sunday. It’s a remarkable place, not as easy to visit or get around as before the 2010 earthquake, but certainly worthwhile for the intrepid.
Please share your trips to Haiti with me via the email posted on this web site: firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s an exciting place, like no other on earth. I have friends who are Haitian who haven’t been to the island in decades. Yet, for next year, they are planning a group trip of friends and relatives to go back to Haiti for a month-long trip. Can’t wait to hear about their experiences.