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Mel’s Story

Experiencing the Motherland: HaitiAfter years of pushing it back and waiting for the right time, 2013 became the year that changed my life. My ticket was purchased, my bags were packed, and I was beyond ready to leave.

As the plane started to descent, I opened the window shade and gasped in awe. I’m not going to lie, I started to tear up. This was the moment I’ve been waiting my whole life for. To visit the country my parents grew up in, meet family members I’ve only seen pictures of, and experience Haiti.


Journey to the Mountains: Meeting My Family

Once we landed, we made our way outside the airport where I finally got to meet my uncle for the first time. He even welcomed us with bannann pézé and griot (fried plantains and pork).

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We drove through the city of Port-Au-Prince and stopped by a corner store to get ice cold Prestige (Haitian beer).

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The city was so busy! People were shopping at markets on the side of the road, riding with 4 people on one motorcycle, and hanging out of Tap-Taps (taxi/bus).

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From there it took us a 1.5-2 hour drive to my uncle’s house in La Vallee. We spent the first couple of days exploring and meeting up with family.

My grandmother lives in a nearby city called Dade, where I was able to see her infamous shop everyone talks about.

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We also attended the local elementary school’s end of the year party where they had live music, dancing, and food.
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The language: Creole

Growing up my parents spoke Creole, French, and English in our home. I understood most of what they were saying but could never respond back in our language. Trying to get to know my family in Haiti was difficult. I felt bad not being able to communicate since my Creole is nonexistent and they didn’t speak much English. I was able to pick up on a few things but still had to use my dad and sister for help in responding.


Cliff Jumping at Bassin-Bleu: Jacmel, Haiti

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Bassin-Yes — The first pool

 

One morning, my dad surprised us with a trip to Bassin-Bleu. My cousin, sister, and I drove on one motorcycle while my dad and a family friend drove on another. My dad was legit our paparazzi, recording our entire journey behind an old fashion camcorder.

 

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Once we arrived into the nearby town, the locals offered to guide us through. We left our motorcycles and traveled by foot.

Hidden in the hills of Jacmel was this breathtaking waterfall with crystal blue water. The total elevation is 650 feet and 75 feet deep. Once we got to the last rock before the big waterfall, we had to take our shoes off in order to safely climb down because it was very steep and slippery. Our tour guides helped us get to the huge rock in the middle of the open space to get a better view. Out of nowhere, one of the guides climbs to the top of the waterfall, and dives head first into the water. My jaw dropped!

 

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B for Bassin-Bleu

 

While my dad was being a chicken, standing far behind us, I tried sneaking my way to the rocks to jump off. He immediately started yelling at me. Telling me the zombies are going to get me and drag me to the bottom of the water. I couldn’t help but to laugh. I then convinced him to get closer to record me jump from the lowest rock. The minute my body hit the water I started thinking about the zombies pulling on my legs. I’ve never swam so fast in my life. It was by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Next time, I’m going to the top!

P.S. There was no charge for anything but a generous tip is greatly appreciated. Going alone is not wise.

 

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My dad with the helpful guides


Takeaway:

If your family is from a different country, I would strongly advise you to take a trip there and explore. You learn so much about your family, culture, and appreciate life so much more. It was definitely a culture shock and experience I will never forget. Attending Carnival is next on the list!

 

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