(Port Morgan, Ile-a-Vache, Haiti)
I’ve been weary of writing this post as I know no combination of words I string together will properly describe the life and breath of our experiences today. Even going back through the pictures, they do little to capture our morning to Madame Bernard’s Market.
Upon arriving into Port Morgan (Baie Feret) we were immediately and continually approached by boat boys. A term that covers boys of all ages looking to sell you fruit, offer you tours and information on their island, or inquire if there’s any work you would like done on your boat. Obviously all for a fee. The first boys to come up to us (we hadn’t even anchored) were PP and Jolie. They paddled out on an old beat-up surfboard and in a hollowed out canoe. PP spoke great english, and as we were keen to go to the Market today, we said we’d do that with them.
This morning at 8am PP and Jolie were waiting for us on the dock and the four of us set out on our walk to the Market. Along the hour walk we took in more and more of local life and the beauty of the island. I’ve put some captions on the pictures below that offer a better idea of what it was like along the way.
At the market we were not allowed to take pictures. Firstly, the Haitian people believe in Voodoo and see the taking of a picture as stealing the soul. Secondly, it is thought that foreigners take pictures to sell and therefore the locals feel you should pay them for any pictures you take. So no pictures.
The market was amazing. People. Smells. Noise. It was organized, beautiful mayhem and I loved it all. You couldn’t walk two feet without pumping into 5 people yet women walked by balancing large bowls on their heads without the slightest problem. More than once someone walked by carrying multiple live chickens by their feet. Chickens that couldn’t seem more content with their present circumstance.
Throughout the market the women selling their fares piled their items up in portioned pyramids either on makeshift tables or simply on mats on the ground. Mangoes, plantains, bananas, pineapple, potatoes, onions, eggplant, kernel corn, rice, legumes, cashews, pork meat, fish, clothing, soap. There was everything. There was even a man selling snowcones! He had a large block of ice – about the size of a mini fridge – and he’d scrape off a cup full and cover it in syrup for less than a dollar. The boys all enjoyed their pink snowcones with a pig’s head sitting on a table nearby.
PP helped us navigate our way through purchasing the things we wanted. The local currency is Gourdes (pronounced goods) and the local dialect is Creole so we were certainly fish out of water.
After we had everything we wanted we walked up to a beach bar and had a Prestige, the local beer. There was a young guy running the place and lots of little kids running around. I had a couple lollipops in our backpack and gave them to two of the little kids. I can’t describe how happy it made me as I watched this little girl thrust her lollipop up in the air and run down the dirt path like she was carrying the Olympic torch into the opening ceremonies. She eventually came back still proudly displaying her prize and the kids played and danced up a storm. I’m not even lying when I say this one little boy, who couldn’t be older than 5, had better dance moves than Greg. Which isn’t saying much if you’ve seen Greg’s dance moves, but this kid had swag. Straight up lady killer.
By 12 o’clock it was time for us to head back to the market and catch a sloop back to Port Morgan. When we got there PP began hollering to a boat already headed out. Another boat came and grabbed us and we transferred to the right sloop. The sloop was already packed with people, but they seemed more than happy to have us. They only flew their front sail and the captain cheerily hand steered us back to port. It was a memorable moment sailing along watching all these sloops cut across the water. Certainly an experience I’ll not soon forget.
Back at the boat I set straight away to making this hot pepper sauce Greg’s sister-in-law had introduced me to. Long story short the peppers we bought, although said to be “not hot” in an obviously mis-interpreted discussion at the market, were the hottest peppers on the planet. I spent the entire afternoon plagued by hands seemingly on fire. Alternatively soaking, coating, and fanning them in whatever I could find. A situation that Greg found exceedingly amusing.