7 Jun 2014

Remembering Jacmel, Pt. II

Once the tour was over we returned to the car, as we would be driving to Bassin Bleu. You should probably know, dear reader, that I just paused at the last sentence for about fifteen minutes, staring blankly at my laptop screen. I am not quite sure just how to begin to describe Bassin Bleu, but I pray that I will never forget even the smallest detail of it in my memory. Well...

Views on the way to the second pool

Small caves on the way

Scaling down to the second pool at the end of our hike

One can only drive a certain distance into the area before being forced into a half-mile hike to the waterfalls. There are three pools in total (hence the correct, unused, term for the area being Bassins (pl.) Bleu), each larger than and further away from the last. We hiked up to the second, and had to climb down once there to access the pools, which was an experience. Jumping in to the blue water, standing directly beneath the waterfall and swimming casually whilst taking in my surroundings gave me the opportunity to reflect on my time in Haiti up to that point, thinking about the things I have learned and un-learned, the friendships I have made and the pure happiness and sadness I have experienced and seen.

I am aware that in many ways this blog has highlighted the sheer beauty of Haiti, and intentionally so. I wanted, in my own small way, to "rewrite" Haiti in some of your minds, show you the similarities of Haiti to the West, teach you about its history and be an unofficial ambassador for Haiti's current growth and future promise. But I have also seen sorrow. I will never, ever forget the expression I saw on a young boy's face as he spotted our car turning out of one of those s-shaped bends on the way to Jacmel. He was squatting on the side of the road, his body hovering over some produce for sale and his eyes peering earnestly down the road for the next visitor to pass him by. I saw him, in this stilled state, for a fraction of a second before his half-vacant stare suddenly became animated. Recognition turned to hope which turned to movement. He quickly grabbed his bowl of produce (I couldn't quite make out what exactly he was holding as we were driving quite fast) and took four or five quick steps forward, stretching out that bowl like an exhausted first-time mother thrusting her daughter into your hands to give herself a break. There was not, however, the similar masked joy of parenthood of said exhausted mother here. I watched his face intently throughout those moments. He, too, had fixed his eyes intently on our car and held on tightly until it was clear that the driver had not acknowledged him and would not slow down. The entire scenario could not have lasted for more than three seconds, but the effect it had on me was (and still is, inexplicably) potent.

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, it's not just endless fun and lovely weather that I have experienced here. I have been educated in more ways than I could have ever imagined whilst first boarding at Heathrow one month ago. I will remember Jacmel not only as being a luxurious end to a great four weeks, but also as being the conclusion to one of the best lessons I could ever have been taught.

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