06 February 2011

Beach Days...

I just returned from another lovely beach trip. And let me tell you, it was great! So great! Better than expected. I mean, I expected to have a really good time and get to hang out with some really awesome people, but it was even better than that. Let me tell you why...
*Photos taken from last Haitian Beach trip. Forgot my camera this time!
The outing was planned as a farewell to one of our colleagues, R. He is moving home tomorrow. I actually had just met him about a week or so ago. You see, I was driving home from the office and he lives in one of the teamhouses just around the corner from me. It was maybe a few days after I had started driving in Haiti - driving a landcruiser on hills that actually need 4-wheel drive - and I was not feeling confident yet. So, I am 'assigned' to drive this guy, R, home, which is down a massive hill. First off, he started by joking that he lived at my house...almost fooled me for a bit (hey, you never know...), but it was soon established that I was the crazier of the bunch, as I sweated profusely, unable to do the introductory chitchat driving down this hill. So, when I found out the farewell was for him, I laughed and said, well at least I can make him see that I am not that silly (even though we all know I am actually quite silly). 

We went to Moulin-sur-Mer, a resort just around the corner from the one I went to on New Year's Day. It was much nicer than the other one, although smaller. Perfect for the 22 or so of us who carpooled out there for a weekend of enjoyment.

And enjoying it was. We started the day off too early, arriving at the beach at around 10am. Checked in, and headed straight down to the beach! The water was the same warm, clear blue Haitian water as usual and was perfect for tossing on some snorkel gear and heading out to the reef nearby! Which was exactly what happened. 


Side note: out of the 22 of us, we figure we have most of the globe represented - North America (I was 1 of 2!), Europe, Middle East, South Asia, Australia, Haiti, and of course the Africans. Since R is from East Africa, there were loads of representation covering the span of Africa, from East to West to South. I loved the diversity and let me tell you, lots of languages conversed in and lots of laughter was shared. What a great group to be a part of!

*Moulin-sure-Mer is just around the corner from that point.

While I was out snorkeling, lots of activity was taking place towards the shore. You see, many Africans cannot swim. It has a lot to do with lack of access to a pool or coast, not being able to afford lessons, and just a lack of general cultural emphasis on it, such as in the States or Australia. So the few of us who could swim were 'designated teachers' showing friends how to float, kick, use their arms and actually just relax in the water. And let me tell you - some hilarious moments appeared. Such as when a housemate was lifting a colleague by his belly, trying to get him to kick and use his arms at the same time.

My major...achievement?... for the day included getting stung by a jellyfish. Twice. The first time, I didn't realise that was what happened, so I just shook it off and continued on my merry snorkeling day. The second time was just as I was heading back into shore, and I must have caught it as I was stroking. My entire forearm was covered. And it stung. A little at first, then more and more and more. And then welts started to appear! I was recommended by the staff to put some lime on it and use some ice. That helped, and so did time. I still have some splotches on my skin, but am none the worse for the wear. Special thanks goes to my housemate, who kindly volunteered to 'open his shop' and pee on my sting. I politely replied - thanks, but no thanks. The pain is not THAT bad!

Our afternoon was rounded out by lunch, resting, kayaking, laughing, drinking, more swimming lessons, and jumping on one of those massive floating water trampolines. We headed to the rooms soon after to shower, change and get ready for the evening's festivities. 

We ate dinner on a concrete platform in the middle of the water, listening to music, drinking beers, looking at the amazing stars (I saw the moon-set in the water for the first time!!!) and then...the dancing. Oh, the dancing. Myself and another colleague were placed in charge of running the 'game of the evening'. Which involved a 3-legged dance competition. What laughter! Of course this led to much more dancing until the late hours of the evening. Nothing beats a night of dancing with friends and colleagues to electric, hip-hop, reggae, African, and latin beats, followed by a late night swim and falling asleep under the shooting stars. Well, this is true, but I didn't actually mean to fall asleep under the stars!!! Whoops!!!

Today, after breakfast, our morning of hilarity continued with water fights, dancing in the ocean, more trampoline jumping, more kayaking and snorkeling, and building a 3-man totem pole. Or more accurately, a man-woman (me)-woman structure. Can't wait to see the pics!

Now, at home, working for the evening, I am just reminiscent of an excellent time, with excellent people and the desire to share experiences like this more often. Haiti, you are definitely on my good side today!

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