If You Go Anywhere in 2018, Go to Haiti!
This past summer was one for the books: a month in Europe, a Barcelona Engagement, and a life changing trip to Haiti. I remember when I decided to go to Haiti my mom thought I was joking. Granted, it was a spur of the moment decision. One of my good friends Val and I started chatting about upcoming travel and she said "Oh we're going to Haiti next month! Wait, are you free the week of June 23rd? We have a few more spots open!" - I instantly looked at my calendar and it was literally the only week in the next 3 months that had nothing scheduled. Obvi, it was a sign! As soon as I got to my computer that night I booked my flight (it's a quick one from Florida) and never looked back.
Keep scrolling to get all the deets, see some of the AMAZING pics, and for deets on upcoming Haiti trips!
Haiti doesn't have the best rap when it comes to natural disasters and prosperity which may be a deterrent for some but have you guys looked at a map lately? It's right in the middle of the Caribbean! To the north is Turks + Caicos, to the west is the Dominican Republic, to the east is Jamaica... umm I'm not an expert in geography but all signs point to EPIC TROPICAL DESTINATION! You guys know I love me some fun in the sun and this trip did not disappoint.
The 5 day trip was organized by KIN TRAVEL - a travel company inspired by safari, committed to sustainability and deeply authentic journeys. One of the co-founders, Dillon, grew up vacationing in Haiti and has built beautiful friendships with local Haitians. When I booked my flight and put down my deposit on the trip I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was in it for the adventure and what an incredible adventure it was.
Upon arrival in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti (there's only one flight in and out every day!) I was blown away by how small the airport was, if you could even call it an airport. We were greeted by Haitian musicians playing music on the tarmac and then a pretty hectic luggage retrieval situation. Initial thoughts: if this is any indicator of the rest of the trip... I'm a little nervous. Thank goodness it wasn't. Once we got through the tiny airport we were greeted by the KIN team with some local Prestige beer and smiles then transported to our next destination: a small taxi boat. The road to the northern part of the island, Labadie, was eye opening. SO much poverty, trash lined streets, hundred of people walking to and fro, street vendors, and half completed construction. I've been to a lot of places in the world but I'd never seen anything so heart wrenching. We arrived at Labadie and jumped on a small taxi boat to go to Dillon's parent's house. This is the moment I took off my shoes and literally NEVER put them on again for FIVE WHOLE DAYS except for one hike that we went on.
Dillon's parents house is located on a gorgeous cliff overlooking the ocean and when we finally arrived and got settled for dinner I looked out and realized how absolutely stunning the natural habitat of Haiti really is. I was in awe. And that was truly a feeling that came over me multiple times a day throughout the next five days. The juxtaposition of poverty and the immense natural beauty of the country is absolutely mind blowing.
Over the next five days we camped in luxe tents, sailed on Balance and visited different islands and coves off the coast of Cap-Haïtien. Did I mention I didn't wear shoes for 5 days? Yeah, and pretty much lived in a bathing suit... I know, it was pretty much my dream world.
During our trip we visited local "towns" (they're not towns like you and I think of) and met with Haitians to learn about their current struggles and life in Haiti. For how little they have, they're SO happy. Happier than you and I by miles. There's no smart phones, no televisions, no electricity, and minimal clean water. Their school system is broken and children are not getting the education they need. They have nothing in comparison to us here in the states and are very much in need of help. Another amazing thing about this trip is that 15% of profits from all KIN Travel's trips go to local villagers - think water filtration, solar energy, education, and health care.
Dillon speaks Creole, so there was never a time where we couldn't communicate with the locals and by the end we all started to learn a few words ourselves! I can't stress how kind everyone was. We were greeted with smiles and open arms everywhere we went. Never ONCE did I feel scared or that I was in any kind of danger.
Throughout the 5 days we had the most delicious food. The KIN team planned insane meals for us with tons of fresh ingredients from Haiti. It was so good that I wrote down every meal so I didn't forget. Some of the goodness: crab cake sliders, coconut and cashew chia seed pudding with granola, grilled lobster (caught that morning), rice and beans with fried plantains, goat + pumpkin soup, and grilled chicken tacos with fresh pineapple and mango salsa. My mouth is watering just thinking about the fresh mangos! Everything was cooked over an open grill outsides and served under a gorgeous dining tent.
You guys, these pictures don't even do the Country justice. The water is the most beautiful blue and green you've ever seen, the people are so kind, and there's such an overwhelming feeling of happiness... I can't wait to go back! Aside from going on the most beautiful adventure I also made so many great friends on the trip; it really was THE BEST.
KIN Travel has four incredible trips planned in the beginning of 2018- book here - that I encourage you to check out if you're looking for an adventurous new year. You'll come back refreshed, renewed, and with a grateful heart. Plus tons of great pics, new friends, and memories to last you a lifetime!
If you have any Qs about it please comment below, DM me, Tweet at me... I'm SO happy to answer them!
pics shot by the incredible Valorie Darling