When our bus pulled in from Santo Domingo, we realized we had arrived in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince and far from where we wanted to stay. A taxi driver/painter took us in his rickety car down to the city, where it was not easy to find a good place to stay. Early next morning, we set out for a first exploratory walk in the Haitian capital, and explored the Champs de Mars, the central area which also is the main sightseeing zone. We saw a black column with the constitution of 1804, establishing the newly born independent state of Haiti. On the square, several squads of teenagers were energetically playing football, watched by an enthusiastic crowd.
From here, we saw a pyramidal building that turned out to hold an eternal flame, which however was extinct. Close by, we visited the Place des Héros de l'Indépendence: the Champs de Mars area holds lots of statues to the heroes of the historic revolution of the late 18th century which resulted in the creation of Haiti. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint Louverture and Henri Christophe have their well-kept statues, while there is an expressive memorial statue for the Unkown Slave, or the Marron Inconnu, blowing in a conch in communication with fellow slaves, while his legs are still tied down by chains. The most obvious sight of Port-au-Prince is, however, the Presidential Palace, liberally copied from the White House in the USA, unfortunately only visible through the fence surrounding it.
Later during our stay in Port-au-Prince, we walked away from the Champs de Mars, passing the Cathedral de Notre Dame which was closed for visits, on our way to the Marché en Fer. Here, we found the real Port-au-Prince: many people on the streets, street stalls, but also trash littered everywhere, and run down houses. This is the colourful area of Port-au-Prince, it has a certain dynamism and a sometimes strange and rough atmosphere, something happening all the time - very interesting to see and experience. A far cry from the suburbs that are much more residential and calm. We decided to heed the advice not to visit the slums that are also part of Port-au-Prince - perhaps for a next time.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Port-au-Prince (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 Port-au-Prince.
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