The inaugural Jet Black trip took place November 5 – 10 on the island of Haiti. Eight travelers joined me as we learned about the culture, ate the food and frolicked on the beaches. I could not have asked for a better more dynamic group of people to explore the country with.
Everyone arrived on November 5th and for those who arrived early, we got our trip started by enjoying some Haitian rum on the ride to the hotel. Guests were also surprised with their own full bottles of Rhum Barbancourt.
We spent our time in Petionville at the Karibe Hotel, which not only has nice updated rooms, a spa, a beautiful pool and gym, but it also has a rooftop bar and restaurant that boasts amazing views of the city below. It was a bonus that Asu Rooftop Lounge, the restaurant is the turn up spot on the weekends! And this week the hotel was hosting Haiti’s Fashion Week. The lobby was crawling with models and designers.
If you are ever at Karibe, be sure to eat at Asu, EVERYTHING on the menu was DELICIOUS. We tried most of it so I don’t think you can go wrong with anything. And the rum punch was perfect.
For some of us, our second day started with L10’s fit club, led by our photographer Elton Anderson. We worked out for about 45 minutes and we truly felt the burn. After breakfast we headed out to explore Port au Prince.
The first stop we made was to a huge cathedral that once stood as the largest church in the Caribbean. The church was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake but its beauty remains as a shell of its former self. Remnants of the stained glass windows are still visible.
Following the church we went to the Iron Market. The market is the largest in the city and was destroyed during the earthquake. Digicel, a telecommunications company, rebuilt the structure that we visited. The newly rebuilt market stands out in an area where rubble has yet to be removed and building have yet to be rebuilt.
The market caters to both locals and tourists with one side being dedicated to food and home goods and the other dedicated to souvenirs, leather goods and paintings from local artists. The market was truly an experience for the guests, all of whom had never experienced a market quite like this. The sellers were relentless in their attempts to sell their goods and negotiation is always necessary. Our guide James and myself took the lead on negotiating and one of the sellers asked me “why I was so good at negotiating,” and I simply told him, this is what I do.” He smiled and said “I like that!”
After the market we went to the National Museum which was an emotional experience for most of us. This history of Haiti is one riddled with triumph, tragedy and hope.
The rest of the day we continued to explore the city, having lunch at Hotel Oluffson and drinks high in the mountains at Boutilier.
On Saturday we ditched the city and turned our urban holiday into a beach vacation. We stayed at Moulin Sur Mer and enjoyed the warm waters of the Caribbean.
The highlights of La Côte des Arcadins was definitely the sailing trip. We took a boat about 45 minutes out to strikingly clear, azure blue waters in front of La Gonave island. We spent a few hours there, dancing, drinking rum punch and enjoying our surroundings.
Monday we went on a hiking trip in the mountains close to our hotel and let’s just say, it was challenging. None of us were prepared for such a difficult hike in the early morning Haitian sun. While locals sometimes walk this route three times per day we struggled in our single attempt. Our efforts were rewarded by a dip in the cool waters of a water cress basin complete with fresh coconut water straight from the coconut.
All in all between the jokes, photoshoots, cultural experiences, rum punches, intense games of Connect 4 and lobster after lobster we all had a great time on the trip. I am looking forward to hosting another trip to Haiti next year along with a few other countries. Stay tuned!