I can see why Haiti was a popular destination for celebrities such as the Rolling Stones and the Clintons (who had their honeymoon here) in its heyday. Whilst now many of the hotels are run down or damaged by the earthquake, the country still boasts some spectacular scenery.
We visited Jacmel on the south coast this weekend, carefully navigating the hairpin bends on the road up and over the mountain ridge, offering superb views of the turquoise bay below. We stopped at Bassin Bleu, a waterfall along the route. Our guides led us up a rocky path to a clear blue pool. ‘This is nothing’ said the guide and ushered us further along. The following pool was a vibrant turquoise shaded by trees and encircled by steep cliffs. We continued on stepping gingerly across slippery rocks and up the side of one of the cliff faces. We were told to remove our shoes and take hold of a rope to let us down the other side of the rock face, and we slowly made our way down trying not to slip on the wet rock. The next part had to be swum, and leaving our bags on the side we jumped into the water, refreshing and cool after a hike in the heat.
Bassin Bleu is not a particularly high waterfall but its secluded spot and deep blue ‘bassin’ at the base of the waterfall makes it a truly stunning location. With a pool 75ft deep it was easy to jump from the rocky outcrops by the waterfall into the blue below, some adventurers attempting breathtaking jumps that drew gasps from observers below.
Jacmel itself is a charming port town which has an air of a rundown beach resort, now largely abandoned by the Caribbean cruise ships which used to dock here until the earthquake. Jacmel was badly damaged but rebuilding work has restored many areas of the town and beautiful hotels built in the 1880s are still standing, decorated in faded blue, white and pastel colours, bleached by the sun.
Later, sitting by the hotel’s private beach in a hammock, listening to the waves crash against the rocks in the turquoise bay below I watched the stars peek through the palm fronds above me and felt it a great privilege to be living in such a beautiful country. Despite its problems and challenges, Haiti has so much to offer and I feel like I have only just seen the beginning.