Cap Haitien, A Home Port

Haitian currency, oceantrader.coCap Haitien is a distinct experience when compared to the look and feel of Haiti’s other large homeport Port-au-Prince.  The architecture in the old town areas is unique with a colonial style that is attractive.  Many of the historic buildings have been renovated and repainted to match a festive flavor that was probably encouraged by the recent national carnival that was held there.  Once named Saint Domingue back in the French glory days, Cap Haitien now has the benefits of time to luxuriate in the rich history of its past.  Walking around the old town areas is by far a more comfortable experience than exploring the dissimilar elements of Port-au-Prince.  In Cap Haitien you will be surprised to find clean streets for the most part, and an environment that is slower in pace.  If you can pry yourself away from the art and curio shops and walk over to the Cap Haitien seaport  you might get a glimpse of the traditional Haitian sailboat traders as they are being loaded, off-loaded or engaged in lighterage.  Many of these blue water traders are engineless.  The skill and practiced seamanship of the Haitian crews as they negotiate the harbor roadstead are impressive.  You might be able to spy a Haitian sloop low on her waterline reaching into the confines of a busy harbor with her baggy sails filled with a strong breeze.  The sky, on a good day, will deliver that baby blue backdrop the Caribbean is known for.  The sea gulls will be as busy as the harbor below them.  The sun will feel warm on your face and back. As that sloop nears her limited threshold approaching the dock area the crew will roundup and ever so gracefully drop the headsail with their vessel coasting up to a dock or anchorage with just the right amount way to keep things in order.  Images ©


Despite a complicated relationship with its neighbor, Haiti still maintains a strong commercial trading relationship with the Dominican Republic.  Cap Hatien is a seaport in every respect.  In Cap Hatien you will encounter many locals that speak Creole, French and Spanish.  Cap Hatien is the cradle of Haiti’s greatest painters, politicians, poets and thinkers.  You will not be able to leave this Caribbean city without wondering what life might have been like 150 years ago, or even 50 years ago.  Although the French developed rich plantations and industrial ports, it was the Haitian people that built a nation.

Haitian Slavery,

The majestic citadel built by the Haitian King Henri Christophe is a prominent example of this patrimony, but if you are an inveterate traveler you will by-pass this monument in favor of discovering other powerful facets of Haitian history in this region.   Explore Morne Rouge, which is located 8 km southwest of Cap Haitien.  Get captivated by the Oungan Mackandal, or Boukman.  How about a road trip to Fort Liberte?  Fort Liberte is a bit further afield (about 56 km east of Cap Haitien), but with a good car or SUV it will be a memorable day trip.  If you make it out to Fort Liberte be sure to visit the site of Fort Dauphine located nearby.  Instead of reading the Trip Advisor get up to speed on your Haitian history.  It is a surprising and complex story that will fascinate and shock you.  As you delve deeper into Haiti’s history you will begin to understand why Haitians did not make ideal slaves.  Some say they are still being punished for this arrogance, but as the first Black Republic in this hemisphere no one can deny these strong and hard working people this unique birthright.  When it comes to the true history of Haiti, Cap Haitien is a natural starting point. Images ©


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