Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cruising Day 3: Labadee, Haiti

There were 2 main options on Haiti - shopping or relaxing - and in my opinion, the two were mutually exclusive. I don't like shopping anyway, but I especially did not enjoy shopping on Haiti where the products were indistinguishable one from the other and the sellers were pushy and insistent. It's a cultural difference and though I can't put it to words, that's probably one of the greater lessons I learned - about different cultural norms. A and I did shop a bit, though, purchasing a mask and a painting for our house.

Before the shopping, we lay in a hammock in the shade and I had an idea of what an affluent island lifestyle might be like if I chose it - I think I would love it. After shopping, we hit the water in a tandem kayak. Kayaking there was a mixed bag. As inexperienced as we are, we'd clearly done more kayaking than some of the others in our group. Our excursion leader kept us together at a pace that all could match, so A and I were chomping to go a little farther, a little faster. As we approached a secluded beach, I was excited to get to see part of the island the others cruisers would miss until I noticed more sellers in the shade beneath the trees. They helped pull our boats onto the beach then it was "please let me show you something," "I make a special deal for you, today only," and even, "if you don't buy from me, my family suffers." I was very frustrated to be paying for an excursion that left us no choice but to either ignore the Haitians or feign interest in their products. The kayaking was good, though, and I learned to trust in A's stearing and balance as there were many waves from the various motorized watercraft in our vicinity.

After that we just hung out in the ocean with a couple of beers and a couple of friends. Oh yes, I would love this life.

What I Learned:
  1. Destination weddings are a lot of work.
  2. Scupper plugs are a worthwhile investment for sit-on-top kayaks.
  3. Don't eat the hamburgers. [One of our companions got really sick - no one else got sick from eating them, but I'd rather stay veggie and avoid the ground beef.]
  4. Get details about shore excursions before signing up.
  5. Don't expect to get to know the locals or even be more than a blip on their radar when participating in a cruise - it would take a very different kind of vacation to have that kind of experience.
My Favorite Part: Feeling totally warm and relaxed in the hammock with A.

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