After three weeks of continuous working 18 hour days, we had all come to a near breaking point. Some of us more than others, especially those who had been driving hard since January 13. But finally, on went west last week February 14, 2010, we were all given a much-deserved break. I think today is the first time I realized that this was on St. Valentine’s day, and I honestly cannot recall it.
In 2006, the former Club Med re-opened as Club Indigo. It was definitely run down and had been beaten over the years as run by Haitian owners. However, we were there for the beach and just unwinding. We loaded up into a Toyota Land Cruiser around 0700 that morning in order to beat the Saturday Haitian traffic out of Port-au-Prince. Once we were on the main highway (if you call them highways in Haiti), it was an easy drive. We may have passed 4 or 5 police checkpoints along the way. At that time, there were still several prisoners at large who had escaped when the prison was damaged during the earthquake.
Upon arrival to Club Indigo, somewhere around 0900, the sea air was refreshing as we got out of the car. The parking lot was filling up, mainly with UN staff who were off for the weekend. We walked to the entrance and we each paid our way to get our bracelets for the day. Once we had our bracelets, it was time to hit the beach and enjoy what Haiti could offer us at the time.
We played all the beach activities until the sun became unbearable to continue. Beach games such as beach volleyball and soccer and later in the water we played water polo. I had never seen water so blue in my life or beaches of sand so white. It was an absolute paradise that I could not believe existed in this country of misery.
Trying new things such as fresh conch, Haitian lobster and other fishes. The whiskey and cigars were a delight following the food and just getting to start to know each other on a personal level was amazing. The rain clouds we saw behind us all day just stayed there, not wanting to move for fear of ruining our special day.
I recall walking down the beach with a colleague trying to find shells or anything that would make for interesting souvenirs. We passed a few locals selling some very nice-looking conch shells and decided to take a look. It was decided we would walk a bit further instead of spending money, which turned out to be a good thing. Several meters further and we found conch shells just sitting on the beach, ready for the taking. Sure, they needed to be cleaned, but nothing the ocean was not able to provide for immediate inspection. We found about five that we liked and took them back, passing the locals selling. All they could do was smile at us, pretty sure they wished they had told us not to go that way!
We stayed at the beach until 2100 (9pm) before heading back to Petionville and beating our curfew time of 2300 (11pm). This was what we thought at least, but it turned out that Haitians like to party in the evening and this caused the roads to become heavy with slow traffic. Feeling the mood, we just enjoyed the ride back celebrating whatever it was the locals were enjoying. We had deserved the day and we took full advantage of it. We may have been 30 minutes beyond curfew, but without incident or consequence.
Following our weekend of unwinding, we were recharged and ready to get back to work. We would visit the beach again and enjoy the pleasures of this Haitian paradise up until our deployments all ended.
For anyone that is interested, the Club Indigo has reopened as a Decameron Resort and apparently is even better under this ownership. Next time I am in Haiti, I plan on checking it out.
Next – The final weeks