Caribbean Trip. Feb 12, 2010

After a greasy breakfast we put on our most sturdy trainers, and then met in the bar area with a Dutch post grad student, who is doing her masters on the impact of ecotourism on local communities, Dave, who is living there helping build the economy’s of the local communities, along with Mike and Michele, friends of Dave, over from Florida to see what Dave is doing. Our destination was a beautiful series of waterfalls, about an hours walk away. The first 30 minutes of the walk was down the road, and then across local farmers fields, passing a number of local communities, where Dave explained about the local economy depending largely on the trees, which they burn for charcoal. It appears that this is very unsustainable, as the steep sided valleys, lose all their nutrients to run off, when the trees are decimated. As a geography graduate, I was understandably excited!!

After this we walked up a river, through the water, and over rocks for about 20 minutes, where we came to a series of waterfalls, which we could swim and jump into, and which were very picturesque! We lounged here for an hour or so, and then returned back through the river to the ecovillage, understandably completely drenched.

In the evening we went for a trip to the local town of Sosua, which is on the coast. Initially we had been told that if we walked down the road for 20 minutes we could pick up a taxi at the next village. Unfortunately that estimate had been by car and not by foot. This meant that we were a little footsore, and ended up jumping in a taxi with some French tourists, who were happy to accommodate us.

We got to Sosua, and my first action was to find the only professional hairdressers in the Town, where I tried to explain in broken Spanish that I wanted my hair shorter, but not too short, which you may imagine did not translate too well, and my hair got cut to what I assume is a one of only about 3 or 4 that is on offer. I imagine however that I actually did well not to get a complete shave!!

From here we went and had well needed big meal in one of the local restaurants, before heading to try and find a couple of local bars. We had not however banked on what would come next. We found a strip of bars just after our meal, and we stayed here to have a couple of beers, and rum and cokes. However as the night wore on, we rapidly realised that the strip of bars more resembled their name sakes, than the type of bar we were hoping for. This was emphasised, when myself and Ollie were constantly being approached by a number of local ladies of the night touting for business, to my severe unamusement. This is for me the least enjoyable part of the trip thus far. We wanted to make a night of it however so we stayed, tom Ollie, and Michele ignoring more than myself, the seedy old men, and their following harems of willing others……..

On the way back we witnessed another part of Dom Rep society that is still prevalent in more developed countries, but less on show. As we took the Taxi back to the Eco Village, having managed to impressively barter the price down to a lesser price than was going rate we pulled up to a lorry in front of us on the coast road. As we approached I noticed vaguely, being in the front seat, that the left backdoor of the lorry was wide open. What I did not expect was what was inside. Perched on the ledge of the van was a man, swaddled in a balaclava, wielding an Uzi (big gun). Looking beyond this I could see the silhouettes of a number of small persons, packed into the rear of the lorry. It hit me straight away what it could be, and as the taxi pulled back as a result of a nonchalant wave of the man’s gun I turned to our driver and asked. ‘Senor. Estan chicos de Haiti no?’ He turned back and nodded before placing a finger to his lips. They were children trafficked out of the stricken Port Au Prince, and were clearly not up for discussion. I did not press the matter further….

A little stunned by our experience and contemplating what we had seen we turned in for the night.

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