Carnival or not. Either way, I am heading south . (by Montiel Seide)
Carnival or no carnival is irrelevant to me. Way before they announced Gonaives’s national carnival I had already made plans to spend those free days on Haiti’s southern coast.
My plan was very simple. I would arrive in Les Cayes on Saturday afternoon and make my way to Gelée Beach where I would first take a dip in both salty beach water and rinse off in the sweet river that flows alongside the ocean. With my bathing shorts still wet I planned to settle Chez Matante Restaurant. The place with the extended gallery allowing customers to enjoy their time even under the rain. A coconut or two! It will depend on my hunger. I always wonder why a conch or lobster street vendor would venture inside a restaurant to offer their food? Simple. That dry and tasty flowery lobster is not offered anywhere except from the street vendors and Matante doesn’t mind. The half cooked conch dipped in that whatever savory sauce is only sold on the streets. We will finish the afternoon with a Matante’s mainstay of grilled fish or conch freshly made by Sister Rose from the kitchen. If you’re on a special diet, make sure to call in advance and talk to Soeur Rose. She will take care of you.
It is too bad that this beautiful city doesn’t offer much of a night life. Other than the beautifully decorated and tasty fast food at Pen Dore located across the street from the Cathedral, there’s not much else. At Pen Dore, like me, you will feel like you’re in any high class fast food joint in America. Service is great and whatever is on the menu is readily available. The owner seems to have understood the secret of combining good food with good service. It’s a delight.
Next stop on my schedule is the beautiful and yet unexploited town of Port-Salut. Before I get there, I am going to take time to enjoy the road. The exotic curbs, the views from Morne Brieux, that unbelievable and breathtaking look at the Caribbean Sea from the top of the mountain.
Before I make it to Felix, the 3rd communal section, I will take time to tour the town. A visit to St Dominic Catholic Church is a must. Here’s one of the oldest churches in the country. The one that offers free education to generations. Visit this town and help me understand how only 4 police officers keep the peace in the entire commune. It means to me that the country is safe.
My next stop of course is Sunset Cove Beach Hotel and Resort at Felix in the 3rd communal section of Port-Salut. That magical place that feels like home while offering the resort style service. Once inside you might be be tempted not to venture out. All is there. The private beach, the pool, the spa, the gym, the exotic food, the luxurious room, its heaven on earth. You say food, they have it. You say drinks, they have it. You say free Wi-Fi, they have it. Yes, they have it all.
But I will venture out. The public beach of Pointe-Sable is a destination of its own. As a seafood lover, I am planning on indulging once again on Bidou’s seafood platter comprised of grilled fresh fish, lobster and conch.
As I enjoy my stay at the Cove and Pointe-sable, I will not neglect to go further South. The city of Roche-à-Bateau is a gem that is yet to be discovered. So much beach front property being wasted. As I watch peasant living beach side, I’m afraid they don’t understand the value of such properties.
Next stop is Aux Coteaux. Although this town shares the same similarities as Roche-à-Bateaux, it offers something very unique and special both in touristic and religious points of view. Once known for its famous coffee and lime plantations, it has now become the mecca for faithfuls willing to climb the 500 steps to the Sanctuaire de la Notre-Dame Miraculeuse. Wether you climb the steps for religious or touristic reason, it’s an experience you will never forget. The view from above will stay with you forever and you will want to come back.
Now I hear that there may be carnival activities in Les Cayes. Since the road is in perfect condition, I may or may not consider to attend one of the three nights. Whether I chose to participate or not, I will be right as I will have a great time either way.