Back to Haiti

Thursday, 3 May 2012

I was in Haiti before the earthquake, so my April trip, kicking off from the Dominican Republic, was a return visit. Things are still a long way from back to normal. The tent camps are still everywhere although one right in the centre of the  capital, Port au Prince, had recently been removed. Ditto for the camp in the main square of Pétionville. But some of the city’s major sites still tell sad stories and they’re stories that will take a long time to put right.

Before the earthquake the National Palace in the centre of the city clearly came from the giant white wedding cake school of architecture.  ▼
Palace before

Today it’s a wedding cake which some careless caterer has dropped on the floor.  ▼
Palace after

The Notre Dame Cathedral before the earthquake. ▼
Cathedral before

Cathedral after◄ Today it’s an empty shell with discussion continuing about whether it should be demolished and replaced with an entirely new structure or rebuilt in its original form. Nearby the Episcopalian Cathedral is an even sadder story, an undistinguished building it featured wonderful wall murals by 13 of the stars of Haitian art. Only one of them is still alive today (generally due to old age, not the earthquake!) and the cathedral was completely destroyed.

Fortunately Port au Prince’s soul survives, life goes on, the art is as vibrant as ever, the music still brings the town to life. More on that in my next blog.

Maureen and I went down to Jacmel on the coast and made the walk up to the Bassein Bleu waterfalls. ▼
Bassein Bleu

Citadelle tower◄  And we travelled north to Cap-Haitien where the ruins of the San Souci palace and brooding fortress of the Citadelle remain the most amazing historic sight in the Caribbean