This. Is. Haiti. Part One – Welcome to Cotes-de-fer

Real Stories of Faith, Hope, & Love in Haiti

Part One: Welcome to Cotes-de-fer

My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

Psalm 45:1

sunset-near-beach-with-village-in-background

From the beach of Cotes-de-fer, Haiti.  This image is for sale (digital & print formats).  All proceeds benefit Hope for a Village projects in Cotes-de-fer.  Email rebecca@purecaptures.com for details.

The plane from Miami to Port-au-Prince was probably the most cheerful bunch of passengers I have ever been with.  They clapped when the plane touched down.  🙂  A few waved their hands in the air to say, “Thank you, God!” [for the safe landing].  I tried my best not to start bawling like a baby when I looked out the window, but I was so happy to be back that I did let a few tears out.  Seven years is too long to leave part of your heart without saying “bonjou.”

We were driven from the airport in Haiti by Missy’s cousin, Renauld.  (Missy is our trip coordinator, was born & raised in this town, and is now a nurse living in Branson, Missouri.)  It was evening when we drove through the main city & its suburbs.  I was so glad to get out of the city and breathe fresh air again.  Like any major city in America, there is a lot of smog.  The acrid smell of charcoal lingers throughout certain parts of the city at certain times of the day, and this was one of them.

I did not take any pictures in Port-au-Prince or its suburbs.  I just didn’t feel a need to take them….plus I knew from that previous trip that pictures from inside a moving vehicle rarely turn out well!  But I sat there smiling like an idiot, taking it all in.  It was definitely more shocking the first time around…this time, I felt very comfortable.  There were still things that made me laugh, like two people and three huge bags of charcoal all on the same motorcycle.  There were still things I don’t see too often (if ever) here, like a huge sow & her piglets rummaging through a trash heap.  There were still things that made me cringe, like a kid with only flip flops jumping over an open sewage canal.

But this blog series is not going to be about all the horrible things there are in Haiti. You will not see pictures of dirty, starving children with huge tear-filled eyes.  You will not see pictures of trash heaps or houses that [we think] are run-down just because they’re made of sticks and corrugated metal.  Too many people in this world want to talk about how wretched & poor this country is.  If you pay close attention, some of them even get some kind of sick joy from talking about those things.  God tells us over and over again in Scripture to take extra care of the poor.  But while extreme hunger DOES exist (just as it does in America), not everybody in Haiti is starving.  While healthcare needs ARE great, many of them are being met by local doctors & nurses (“dokte & enfimye”) at local clinics like the one in Cotes-de-fer.  While education is NOT easily available to everyone, more and more schools are being built – even some “free” public schools in the works.  It does little benefit to Haitians and to ourselves if we talk about Haiti in a way that assumes we are superior just because we have more things.  It breeds pride, and pride has shown itself to be our downfall over and over again throughout history.  (To clarify: Pride is the downfall of ALL of us, no matter what culture or religion).  Instead, if we humble ourselves and turn to the wisdom of the ages, Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthymeditate on these things.”  It IS possible to think upon the good things of Haiti in order to address the problems….not for, but alongside its people.

 

Haiti-Ayiti-Cotes-de-fer-Streets-at-dusk

Looking West at dusk down the main road of Cotes-de-fer, Haiti.  This image is for sale (digital & print formats).  All proceeds benefit Hope for a Village projects in Cotes-de-fer.  Email rebecca@purecaptures.com for details.


When we first drove into Cotes, it was dark & very late at night, and I had no idea how beautiful the scenery was surrounding the town and within the town itself.  All we could see were millions of stars and a stretch of the Milky Way Galaxy, so much brighter without any light pollution.  It wasn’t until the next day (and on the morning that we left to go back to the airport) that we saw the true majesty of this area.  At first you start driving through mountains, then past a lovely lake & salt flats (all of which look amazing paired with a sky that is ALWAYS beautiful & colorful).  You come into the Cotes-de-fer area from the west.  (The town is in the South-East section, right down on the “arm” of Haiti.)  There is a long stretch of the road where you are driving at sea level, and the ocean is clearly visible to the south.  On the other side, a flat plain & then some gentle mountains.  Everywhere there are banana and coconut trees (“cocoye”).  When you get close to town, you cross a new bridge over the river where people are often washing clothes, bathing, or taking their cows & donkeys to drink.  The road is then lined with banana trees on either side, making for a nice shady walk to the downtown area.  Almost all the roads to Cotes-de-fer have been worked on so that it is a much faster drive than two years ago.  Much of the downtown area is also paved, and they have a new town square.

 

Haiti-Ayiti-Cotes-de-fer-town-square

The new & colorful town square of Cotes-de-fer, Haiti, at dusk.  This image is for sale (digital & print formats).  All proceeds benefit Hope for a Village projects in Cotes-de-fer.  Email rebecca@purecaptures.com for details.


In the evenings, when people are finished with work and the sun has started to cool off, they have dinner and then hang out on their front porches, visiting & enjoying each other’s company.  Around the square, there are light poles with solar panels on top, which lights up the playground & soccer area until 10 or 11 at night.  (One evening we attended a church service at the pavillion & benches, led by Haitian missionaries from Port-au-Prince.)  There is a new police station right here across from the square (which we toured one day), making it easy to keep an eye on the activities.  Not that there is much crime here….I always felt very safe no matter the time of day.

The town is close to the beach.  It is a little rocky here, with rounded stones in many shades of gray.  A little ways down the road (if you drive) there is a majestic place to enjoy the day on the beach, along with several hotels & resorts in progress.  (Saving that for a future post.)  My second-to-last evening, I just HAD to go down to the beach to get my beach-at-sunset pictures because the light had been amazing all week in the evenings.  We took the kids who lived next door to LouLou & had a lot of fun collecting shells & taking pictures in the water.

 

Haiti-Ayiti-Cotes-de-fer-beach

Waves, rocks, & driftwood on the beach at Cotes-de-fer, Haiti.  This image is for sale (digital & print formats).  All proceeds benefit Hope for a Village projects in Cotes-de-fer.  Email rebecca@purecaptures.com for details.

Several people I talked to this week just couldn’t believe I thought this place was so pretty.  But it truly is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been (the other being Grand Teton National Park in the US).  Like anywhere, I suppose if you live somewhere you just get used to the way it looks.  You just have to get to the right places to find the pretty views!  (And this wasn’t even half of them….)

Haiti-Ayiti-beach-at-sunset

Looking south towards the beach in Cotes-de-fer, Haiti.  This image is for sale (digital & print formats).  All proceeds benefit Hope for a Village projects in Cotes-de-fer.  Email rebecca@purecaptures.com for details.

Come back next week to see more pictures & read more stories in Part Two.  In the meantime, please share the real beauty of Haiti with your friends using Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.

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A must read post!

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