Haiti 2015 - Day 9 (part 2)

As we were only staying one night in Jacmel our hosts, the Brothers at Jacmel (and ourselves) wanted to make the most of our time there. So once we’d had a quick tour of the property and the chance to get our sleeping arrangements sorted (youngsters on mattresses with their portable mosquito nets in a balcony area and the Brothers in the bedrooms that came off the balcony) we grabbed our swimming togs and the picnic lunch we’d brought with us and we headed for a beach about 20 mins. drive away in Lamy’s vehicle that he had the use of for the duration of our trip (a kind of imitation Jeep, Toyota-style, borrowed from the Juniorate community at Pétionville, just outside Port-au-Prince). This beach had a zoned off safe bathing area where the slope away from the shore was more shallow. The waves were still reasonably big though and you had to be careful of the current. In the end, I was the only one who went in for a proper swim (Max had a lengthy paddle), the rampant algae (seaweed) that was seemingly covering much of Haiti’s southern coastline closer in to shore putting off the rest of the group.

Bro. Jacques getting a little shut eye on the way to the beach.

A refreshing end to our picnic lunch on the beach: drinking fresh coconut water straight from the coconut. Once we then got them cut into pieces Aaron gladly polished off the insides of the coconuts of most of the group. I would have loved to help but I was starting to suffer from the nausea (heat and humidity-induced, I think) that would stay with me for the rest of the trip and drastically reduce my appetite.

Once we got back to Jacmel it was time for a siesta for some, a further stroll around the grounds of the Jacmel property for others, and then the beginning of what become thereafter the nightly whole-team card games. The four teens had already been entertaining themselves with this pastime in Delmas, but on this day Bro. Jacques and myself joined in, with Bro. Francis initially an observer and then a full participant from the next evening onwards. We tried a variety of games, but it soon became clear that the most fun could be had from playing either Bluff or Cheat (which are basically variations of the same game).

Much hilarity ensued once they realised the michievous willingness of Bro. Jacques to bluff and the unbridled joy he expressed when he got away with it!

Supper was had outdoors with the sea a beautiful backdrop. Like everywhere else we went the Brothers prepared a wonderful spread with plenty of cold drinks to wash it all down. Up until now we’d not had much of the homemade beer (only 1 or 2% of alcohol in strength) that our communitites in Haiti are renowned for, but here it was available in plenty. Bro. Jacques in particular took to drinking it at any available opportunity. It made a change from the filtered/bottled water of which we drunk many litres a day, though it was certainly an acquired taste. The beer from the Jacmel community was I think the best we tasted throughout the whole trip.

A chance to relax and chat just before supper.

After supper we were taken for a walk along Jacmel promenade which had seen much investment in the past few years. Jacmel is a popular tourist destination for those in Port-au-Prince who can afford to get away to the south coast beaches. At about 4 hrs. drive people would sometimes come down for a weekend Friday to Sunday. It is one of the locations that could eventually become popular with foreign tourists too.

In the end, I think our teens got the best night’s sleep on the balcony. They had the best of the light breeze coming in off the sea. In terms of sleeping arrangements during our trip, in Delmas it was a bit hit-and-miss for our teens, as we’d arranged for them to sleep in an air conditioned computer room: a double bonus in that they had computer internet access (+ eventually smartphone wifi) for sending messages home (I got these blog articles started during the evenings I spent with them in that room) and they had cool air… the only problem was that most evenings there were power cuts of varying lengths during which it would go back to being near unbearably humid. But I think it was worth it for the time they did have the air con and for the chance to send reassuring messages home.
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