Haiti Diaries #6: The Haiti the media didn’t show you

Posted on May 7, 2014

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Even though there is a large slum area in Haiti and that is what is largely shown by the media, there are also several beautiful attractions. In-between clinic schedules, the team took a few breaks to enjoy the city, and I was happy to see how much the Haitian government and people had invested in building back their tourism industry after the earthquake.

Here are a few (beautiful) touristy things we got to see while we were in Port-au-Prince:

Boutilier Observatory – This was about a half hour drive into the main city, but well worth the drive. It is nestled between the majestic mountains, and I believe it is one of the highest points in Haiti next to the cell phone towers. The view of the entire city  from the top was breathtaking, plus they have a restaurant and gift shop at the top.

Club Indigo – I actually wasn’t expecting anything this beautiful when we were told we were going to the beach. I was expecting a shore, some water and laying on the sand for some rest and relaxation. What a pleasant surprise this resort was! The landscaping alone was lush – exotic flowers, and very well manicured garden that smelled amazing.  There was also a lot to do – 2 swimming pools, a TV lounge, a bar, a basketball court, a volleyball court, kayak rentals, cabanas…and the most gorgeous clear blue Caribbean sea. It was so relaxing and very much on par with other luxurious Caribbean resorts I’ve been to. Watch out though, their gift shop was super pricey…I spent $21 on an item that costs $5.99 in the states…ouch!

Hotel Montana – This hotel is located in Pétionville, the wealthier part of Port-au-Prince, and the history behind it broke my heart.  Over 200 guests died here during the earthquake, most of which were staff and peacekeepers of the United Nations who were there to restore order and help develop the  nation. The hotel was rebuilt in 2011 and there is a memorial on site dedicated to the victims. Our team came here on the last day of our trip to “chill and unwind” and I was very impressed by it. The grounds were well maintained, and it sits high up on the mountains so you get a spectacular view of the city and the sunset – great for photos. I would have never guessed it was a rebuild because it was so beautiful, and I wonder how much more lovely it was before the earthquake. I also had the best pina colada ever here, made from scratch – fresh pineapples and all (clearly, I’m easily impressed but it was sooo good!)

Musee du Pantheon National Haitien (National Museum of Haiti) – The National Museum is one of the very few public structures that remained intact after the 2010 earthquake, due to the fact that most of its construction is underground. This was a small museum, but it was beautifully designed. I wish I had read up on the history before I got there, but our guide was very informative and patient with all my questions. The Haitian history is so interesting, and the art gallery had some beautiful pieces. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed so I don’t have any record of our time here (Pictures are courtesy of http://www.hougansydney.com/). The top of the museum was also very lovely (with a fountain) and has a walkable area with a nice view.  The area outside the museum was full of aggressive peddlers, but a simple but firm “No Mesi” was good enough for them to get the message.

Village Artistique de Noailles (Artist Village) – This was a really vibrant, interesting place and a fun cultural experience. The metal workers recycle old steel drums and hammer the metal into lightweight sheets of beautiful craftsmanship. Pretty much everything was made of iron, and it was a really cool place to find souvenirs. Most of the aisles carried similar items, but they varied greatly in quality and cost, so we got to practice our bargaining skills.

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