Once the capital of the French colony Saint Domingue and known as Cap Français, Cap-Haïtien now is an easily accessible town for the visitor. The largest town after the capital Port-au-Prince, its atmosphere is much more relaxed. It is very easy to walk around in and find your way: the streets are laid out in a grid pattern, where the streets parallel to the coast are represented with a letter, while those at right angles are numbered 1 to 24. The streets are quite narrow, and it is almost always possible to find shade on one side of the street or another - which is welcome in the humid, hot climate of the northern coast of Haiti.
A walk through the city could well start at the cathedral square, a well-maintained area which in fact is not central to Cap-Haïtien. From here, you can just wander around; getting lost is virtually impossible. Typical architecture of Cap-Haïtien includes two-three floor buildings, many with balconies, most with wooden or metal shutters painted in bright colours. To be sure, most of the houses are run-down, but to a degree where it only makes them more attractive to see. Some streets do have a problem with garbage and the sewer system, though, making them smelly. With some heavy rain, some of these streets turn into shallow canals - beautifully reflecting the houses.
Apart from the older architecture which is the face of Cap-Haïtien, there are also newer areas that have much less appealing housing: they are mostly the slums of the town. You can see some of these areas when crossing the bridge to the bus station on the island right in front of Cap-Haïtien. Walking back from here, always following the coastline, brings you to the port and the boulevard of Cap-Haïtien. Ultimately, the boulevard ends; if you continue walking, you come to the outskirts of the town, some old fortresses and a beach where the locals go to cool off.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cap-Haïtien (Haiti). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Cap-Haïtien.
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