Haiti didn’t have a wonderful tourist reputation before the earthquake, and sadly now there is probably even less reason to visit Haiti. I wanted to check it out and see if it was as bad as people said. Especially given I have spent a lot of time in Miami, where most people have a general aversion to Haitians. Honestly my Miami experience of Haitians was limited to taxi drivers who weren’t great drivers who didn’t know how to indicate (not an issue limited to Haitians to be honest, I find Miami drivers to be among the worst in the world), and who tried to over charge me (again, an issue for all taxi drivers).
So, I booked a flight and a hotel and then valiantly tried to sort an itinerary to see the best of Haiti. I eventually got a response from a local tour agent, and sorted out a driver for the day. Given many of the ‘tourist sights’ were destroyed in the earthquake, there wasn’t actually that much to see. Things to do:
Visit the museum du pantheon
A surprisingly well curated museum with some excellent exhibitions, including some great modern art – definitely exceeded my expectations.
See the cathedral ruins
Very interesting to walk around, and as yet unclear as to whether or not they will be rebuilding it
Visit the iron market.
Honest confession – I hated the iron market with its art displays and voodoo. Not based on aversion to voodoo, but because there were way too many live animals tied up on short leads and obviously malnutritioned. It was depressing, and even if I was someone who bought souvenirs (I am not), I wouldn’t buy from anyone who was maltreating an animal – which was everyone in the market
See the wooden architecture
There are lots of ‘gingerbread houses’ dotted around port au prince. Most notable is the Hotel Olofsson, which you can go and wander around even if you aren’t staying there. It was made famous by Graham Greene is is novel the Comedians.
So what was my verdict – honestly, not a country I would put at the top of my list of potential destinations. Without question, in my opinion, I would visit every other country in the Caribbean before visiting Haiti. However if you happen to be in town, it is an interesting place to visit.
- I stayed at the holiday inn express – it was fine and had a pool. You will appreciate the pool as it is swelteringly hot in Port au prince
- Travel around town is slow and difficult, don’t assume a short journey will be quick, and make sure you leave plenty of time to get to the airport. Traffic is nuts, and my driver was diligent in making sure our doors were always locked. He didn’t have a great degree of confidence in his fellow Haitians not to rob us blind
- Take USD cash in small denominations
- I did not head out of Port au Prince, but apparently Cap Haitien and Jacmel are interesting