This is probably my first blog entry that's mostly a travel blog. Not much heartbreaking stuff to relate about this weekend. Just good times.
Yesterday around noon we left for Jacmel. Jacmel is about 3 hours south of Port-au-Prince. Look at this map to get a better idea. Also, we includes: Hal, Doug, Mike, Oge, Donette, Ablamy (yes, apparently I've been spelling his name wrong this whole time,) Jammes, Bryan, and myself.
Anyway, it was a long journey. Thanks for a few funny stories and Bryan and I sharing music, though, the time passed fairly quickly.
Once we arrived in Jacmel we went straight to some of the best shops in the city. Jacmel is known as Haiti's art captial and it is the host to a big event called "Carnivale" which is similar to Mardi Gras. The first place we stopped was the shop of the mask creator for Carnivale. He had some crazy cool masks. Then we traveled to an art gallery and some of those paintings were AMAZING. I would have purchased some but a $50 painting is a bit out of my price range. (And that was for the smaller ones!)
Going from there we went in a few of the smaller shops and walked around the city for a bit. It's definitely a beach town. Much more laid back than Port-au-Prince. I definitely enjoyed Jacmel. It just has a nice, relaxing vibe to it.
After that, though, we had to find a hotel as it would soon be getting dark and it was almost dinner time. We had tried to make reservations somewhere before coming to Jacmel but most phones didn't work so we just thought we'd take our chances and go from hotel to hotel until we found some rooms.
We eventually got the point where we felt like Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem. There was no room in the inn! And then we really felt like Mary and Joseph when we finally found our "stable" to sleep in.
This is mostly because our sleeping accommodations were... interesting. And I’ll just leave it at that. We were glad to have a place to stay, but also glad to leave in the morning.
Anyway, after waking up and getting ready the next day we went to breakfast at a much nicer hotel and enjoyed the beach breeze and the sounds of waves. I also enjoyed my first cup of Haitian coffee. It was divine. I haven't had coffee this whole time because it's hot and I'd rather drink water to avoid dehydration but as I was up at 5:15 this morning due to the humidity... I needed the pick me up.
With our stomachs full we finally went to the beach. We decided to go to Donette's favorite beach because it's not as touristy. Let me tell you - it was fantastic. It was exactly like what you would want a Caribbean beach to be like. Warm water, soft sand, lots of palm trees for shade, booths with goodies for sale and amazing food. Ablamy and Donette actually arranged for us to have fresh lobster and fish with fried plantains on the beach for lunch. It was VERY good.
Now, this is when the "real fun" began. We had heard about these amazing waterfalls that Jacmel has and none of us had ever seen them. Therefore, we thought it sounded like a fairly good idea to visit. We drove and drove to get there - through deep waters (seriously - I was amazed our van didn't stall!) and steep hills (both down and up) and narrow roads. Finally, though, we arrived at the entrance and they told us it was just a short ten minute hike to the waterfall.
Hah. Short ten minute hike. Makes it sound like a nice walk in the woods.
Well, it was not that. Instead, it was extremely steep hills covered with rocks so it was difficult to keep your footing - especially going down. Also, we had to climb over a few rivers, up some steep stairs, and through two boulders. It should also be noted that I did all of this in flip flops as I didn't pack any other shoes. Finally, it seemed like we were near the waterfall but we couldn't quite see it yet. It was then that our guides told us to take off our shoes because we were going to have to climb down this rope to continue. It looked at that and went "No way." Oge, Donette, Doug, Ablamy, and Jammes agreed with me and we all went to the water we had just passed and sat down in it.
Now, it was a terrible hike, and the flip flops definitely made it worse... but man, the water felt great and the view from my sitting spot was INCREDIBLE. I was sitting in cool water on a hot day looking up at lush, green mountains in Haiti.
Hal, Mike, and Bryan soon returned and told us many tales of the wonderful fall they had seen. Although we were all a bit jealous, none of us regretted the decision we made to not go down the rope. :) We then began the trek back to the vehicle with wet, slippery flip flops. The hike was actually a bit easier going up than going down because the traction is better... but I am still amazed that I didn't fall and break my head open or something.
After that we rode home. Once we hit Port-au-Prince, Mike realized that we hadn't done the worship service we had planned yet so we did it in the van on the way back to the Guest House. Mike read a devotion, Ablamy led us in 3 songs (Sanctuary, and two others that I can't remember,) I led the whole van in "Up above My Head," Oge sang a solo, Doug said a prayer, Hal did a benediction, and then Ablamy led us in "Amazing Grace."
Let me tell you, it was such a joy to sing "Up above My Head" in that van. It had been a while since I had led it and so I sung it as loud and as passionately as I could. The whole van really got into it, too, and afterwards Donette said, "Beth that is such a powerful song! I could feel the spirit moving in that one." Probably the highlight of my whole day. I think I just like that song that much.
So yes. Now I'm off to bed and tomorrow starts another day of work and I'm sure more lessons from my tutors. Also, hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to post some pictures from Jacmel. Tonight Facebook is not cooperating.
P.S. My blog has been receiving a lot of love lately! It's possible that an excerpt from one of my entries will be in the sermon this next Sunday at Church of the Resurrection and Kansas City religion blogger, Bill Tammeus, also mentioned me in his blog. As I keep on saying, I really hope you all are enjoying the blog as much as I'm enjoying writing it!