Haiti – Citadelle and the Sans Souci Palace Saturday, January 24, 2015 The most attractive place for visitors to Haiti is the Citadelle high in the mountains and the remains of Sans Souci Palace at their foot. At a beautiful sunny morning Joanne and I are leaving at 9 AM in a car with driver for the Citadelle and the Sans Souci Palace. We are driving through the second biggest city in Haiti, Cap Haitian, which is awaking for its Saturday market. Cutting through the shore flats on a good asphalt road surrounded by fields of sugar cane, corn and bananas, we see quite a number of people walking on its both sides. This is common in the countries of the Third World in spite of local transportation. We are coming to the town of Milot at the bottom of the steep mountains at 9:30 AM. Without stopping we continue on a cobblestone road into the mountains. On the incline behind the town there are the remains of the Sans Souci Palace built on the beginning of 19th century as the king Henri Christophe family seat. During a large earthquake in 1842 the Palace was destroyed. Behind the ruined Palace begins the road to the Citadelle. Here and there some people walk with bags of yam. Yam is a plant with addible roots often called “sweet potatoes.” It is a staple food of local people. The Citadelle is 900 meters above the shore flats. It was also built by the king Henri Christophe as defense against the French. It was not effected by the quake. After break-neck drive possible by the 4WD of our Toyota, we come at 10 AM to a place, where the cars can’t go any father. The next 300 or 400 vertical meters must be done on horses. The attention of all local vendors is concentrated at us. Each of them shows us his or her goods, gives us name and asks our names. Soon I am getting on a horse using a brick wall as a step ladder. Definitely I am not getting on the horse very gracefully. I don’t feel very safe in the saddle. I think I will fall off any minute. Luckily, there is a man walking the horse and another 2, one on each side of my horse, who might catch me (maybe). The horse under me looks small and skinny. I dream about a big horse on which I would feel safer. It is clear that all my training on a horse at the county fair, when I was 6 years old, was not sufficient. I admire people around these horses and the horses during the steep climb. Joanne is on another horse behind me most likely with the same feelings. I prey that I get to the Citadelle in one piece. After about 30 minutes climbing the riding of the horse ends at the first wall of the Citadelle. Quite stiff I am getting off the horse over a big gun (no brick wall here) and with the help of my two helpers. I want to give each of them 50 gourdu. It is too little for them. They want for all 3 of them together 500 gourdu. They are getting it from me. Joanne and I are entering the Citadelle with a guide, who materialized from nowhere. The monumental fort is made of large blocks of stones. Our guide explains the history of this place. The building of the Citadelle started in 1805 and stopped in 1820 when the king died. By that time the fort was not quite finished. Though standing at it one would never noticed it, because the unfinished business was in the interior of the buildings. The Citadelle also never shot in anger. After having a glance of inside I stay outside, while the guide take Joanne through the empty building. After an hour devoted to the Citadelle we return to our horses to start descent on their backs. I did not figure out, if it is easier to climb up or down on them. Within 30 minutes we come to the parking lot of our car. Again we are mobbed by the vendors. To put some money to the local economy I buy a voodoo mask from one of them a later, already hidden in our car, I buy another one and two wooden statues. At 12 o’clock we are leaving with our guide in our car. We leave the car at 12:15 PM above Milot at the ruins of the Sans Souci Palace. In its time (on the beginning of the 19th century) this Palace was compared with Versailles in France. We are walking though the remnants of the Palace, from which only walls remains after the 1842 earthquake. Thanks to sun shine the place does not look sad today. After finishing the sightseeing we go by car to a family restaurant for lunch. It is done only for invited guests and today we are the invited. A lot of vegetable and fruit. I skip only chicken with bones sticking out of it. Before 2PM we leave Milot. Within 30 minutes we are back in our hotel in Cap Haitian. It was an interesting trip into history of Haiti about which I did not know too much.
Trips ...more information and slides: