CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti- Haiti is a dangerous country for travel. Haiti is a dangerous country for travel as there is a very likely chance that you will fall through the streets and meet doom below. I mean this literally: there are holes, pits, and open manholes all over the streets and sidewalks. One errant step and you’re a goner — consider yourself lucky if you only break a leg.
CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti- Haiti is a dangerous country for travel. Haiti is a dangerous country for travel because there is a very likely chance that you will fall through the streets and meet doom below. I mean this literally: there are holes, pits, and open manholes all over the streets and sidewalks. One errant step and you’re a goner — consider yourself lucky if you only break a leg.
The streets of Cap Haitien are caked with mud, grime, sewer stuff, and their are open gaps in the sidewalk large enough to fully consume an entire man and a couple of his companions. Some of the drops are deep — upwards of ten feet — while others would just break your ankle if you placed a careless foot.
The physical process of walking down the streets of Cap Haitien was probably the most dangerous thing I found in my short stay in Haiti. Add to this treacherous conditions of the roads and sidewalks traffic that seems to follow only one rule: the right of way goes to the man big enough to take it — truck trumps car, car trumps motorcycle, everything trumps pedestrians. Evey vehicle goes as fast as possible, sometimes they reclaim the sidewalk for the street. Now add to this the fact that the streets seem to be regularly packed with pedestrians and you have walks that are truly adventures.
I faltered only twice during my few days in Cap-Haitien, and I consider myself lucky. I once stepped on what I took to be the usual splatter of mud to find that it sank down into a pit which covered my entire boot, and I once jumped over a mud puddle only to have my landing foot slip on some grime and go out from beneath me and my back foot land directly in the object of my intended avoidance — drenching my boot, leg, and socks in very dubious looking street water. But my boots wash, the mud is now gone, and I am intact. I gladly take my wet feet over a possible plunge down a man hole and into the sewer beneath.
The Haitian people walk nimbly through their streets. The huge potholes in the streets, the gaps in the sidewalks, and the open man holes do not seem to faze them too much. They know how to walk here, it is not a problem for them. It is I who has difficulty, and the Haitians laugh when then watch me awkwardly hop over mud puddles, sidewalk gaps, and virtual pits.
The streets of Cap-Haitian are booby-trapped for foreigners, the locals know where the traps are and avoid them — but I end up strung up and caught.
Keep your head down in the cities of Haiti, as where you place your feet seems to be the biggest danger. I have been to around 46 countries, I walked over many booby-trapped sidewalks and roads without difficulty, but I have never observed streets as treacherous as in Haiti.
Keep your head down.
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About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3679 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Papa Bay, Hawaii
May 27, 2012, 6:17 pm
Oh, yes. Petionville and Port Au Prince are the same: potholes, often no sidewalks. But at least in Haiti, there are alot of people out walking on the streets. I think Managua, Nicaragua is worse. Manhole covers missing with the streets suburban like and dark with vines covering open holes so they are hard to see.
In Haiti, I slipped on slime in a street and cut my leg. A kindly man rushed over to help me up. I thought “Oh no, now my leg will get infected! Look at this filth in the street!” I went to a drug store but don’t speak Creole. I showed the clerk my wound and she went into the back and came out with a pain pill. No, I wanted to clean it! Finally she got the idea, sold me some anti biotic creme and all turned out well.
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