03 April, 2013

Ille a Vache Haiti

Malua is at 18:06.40N 73:41.68W at Port Margan on the island of Ille a
Vache Haiti
All the crusers that have come this way have enthused about this
delightful island and its people. It is off the coast of souther Haiti
and is not influenced by the mainland. In fact the authorities dont seem
to have arrived. When you drop anchor - keep to the port side as you
enter the bay there are a swarm of young fellows in or on all forms of
anything that can float. From good dugout canoes, surfboards, fiberglass
row boats to inflatables. They all have a story. Some of the more market
orientated have a resume and references. I had been told by Outside -
ian and Wendy to look out for two fellows. I identified one Pe Pe who
agreed to take me to the market on Monday morning. That is a story in
Kramer is a fellow who is receiving money from Slow Dancing a Canadian
couple to build a bar and I was instructed to have a look and take some
picture to report progress. There has been and he has cast a central
pillar for the roof and purchased some plywood for the cupboards and bar
area. Things are slow but he has done what he can with the money so far.
These people are very poor and want to do any sort of work on a yacht to
get some funds to advance themselves. Some are helpful and willing but
the majority just come to beg. i walked into the hills behind the local
French hotel to find four or five of the youngsters in amongst the
hotels garbage picking it over for something to eat. I now know why more
than one asked if they could take my garbage. Not a good sight.
I had arranged for Pe Pe to take me to the market at the larger town
some way away along the sea shore. I had in fact not asked how long it
would take to walk but we set off at 8:00. He walked fast and I had to
struggle to keep up. Up hill and down dale, along the coast in the soft
sand and then through the mangroves. We stopped for a drink of water
from a hand operated pump then on towards the market. After two hours I
knew we were getting close because more people were walking the same
path. On the outskirts there were a few people with live animals ready
to be sold and taken home then just out of the market the horse and
donkey parking lot. More than a hundred animals just standing in the sun
waiting for their owners to return.
The market is a typical African/Caribbean poor market. Open stalls or
some covered stalls with each vendor displaying a small range of goods.
I first had to stop at the money changer to turn my US dollars into the
local Gourd 1=40 I could then purchase the onions I was seeking plus
tomatoes and ripe mangoes. I got a good selection for my 10 dollars. We
returned to the money changer for a beer for the young fellow and a coke
- yes a US Coke for me.
Be Be had arranged that we would return by sail taxi to Port Morgan in
one of the local sail boats. All wooden made with local timber. The
frames selected from a tree with the right bend to fit the inside. They
are mostly water proof but don't have much free board especially when
you put 16 people in then plus all their market purchase which ranged
from fuel, net fibre to fix the fishing nets, a piece of cloth, soap and
an assortment of smaller food items including spices.
We set off and only hoisted the forsail because the wind was quite
strong and we where going down wind. We kept quite close to the coast
and far less than one mile off the two major headlands but there again
being close in this case meant that most people if they could swim would
make it to the shore in the event of a mishap. After almost an hour we
turned into Port Morgan and Malua was pointed out to the passengers by
Pe Pe as my yacht in which I had sailed from Australia. I dont think
many knew where Australia is. It was a great experience.
On the shore of the bay there were two boats being built in the
traditional fashion used for centuries. The shipright used an axe, and
adz and a hand saw plus his hammer and a few nails. The dug out conoe
which was having it final coat of paint was almost ready for launching.
I watched as the fellow took a tree branch shaped it into a point then
cut off the point and then cut into the branch to form a brush for the
paint. It was an amazing transformation from stick to paint brush which
worked as well as any badger haired brush and readily available at no cost.
Ille a Vache has been a great experience to step back in time to a small
village using sailing boats as transport, making their own boats, No
electricity and a great desire to improve themselves.
A magical moment on Malua.
Tomorrow off to Cuba.

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