Île à Vache (translated as Cow Island) is a small island lying off the south-west peninsula of Haiti near the town of Les Cayes. It is about 8 miles (13 km) long, 2 miles (3.2 km) wide, with an area of 20 square miles (52 km2). The western end of the island is up to 150 metres (490 ft) high and rolling with several small swamps in the valleys. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Haiti and it has some of the best island scenery in the Caribbean.
Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the first black-led republic in the world, and the second republic in the Americas when it gained independence in 1804 as part of a successful slave revolution lasting nearly a decade.
The country is still suffering from a severe earthquake in 2010. Cholera and other diseases are present. Haiti is the poorest nation in the northern hemisphere.
5 - 7 May 2013
The 220NM passage between Great Inagua and Île à Vache, Haiti took just over two days. The seas in the Windward Passage and around the south west corner of Haiti were unusaly calm with northerly winds 7-12knts.
12 May 2013
Time Warp Île à Vache, certainly a highlight! There is no electricity on the Island, no noise and light pollution , you can sleep in darkness and peaceful stillness. No loudspeakers, no noisy engines ploughing the waters either. The only noise you hear in the evenings are people chatting and singing, sometimes accompanied by instruments. They go to bed at cruisers midnight, which is around 9:00 pm. The fishermen use dugout paddle boats, goods are transported by small wooden sailing vessels, only the hotel "Port Morgan" and the Taxi launcha to the mainland have engines. Pure bliss in paradise once you figured out a way how to deal with the boat boys.
Walking on the shaded lush island brings you back a century in time, livestock like chickens, few cows, pigs and a lot of goats are roaming, women gracefully balance water and shopping on their heads. Haitians do not like to be photographed, you aim a camera, heads turn away or angry shouting starts. All trodden paths are swept, no honking cars, no fumes. We have given all our surplus cloths and shoes to the Cubans, which appear to be rich in comparison to the Haitians, I never imagined people here are so very poor.
Haiti, Île à Vache. Mondays and Thursdays are market days in Île à Vache. Every sailboat of the island seems to stop fishing and is going back and forth to bring people and goods to and from the little villages to the small settlement Akie. When we arrived all the boat boys were trying to get a promise out of us that he would be the one to take us to the market. Twice a day since our arrival they made us repeat their names and promise to remember they will take us the one and a half hour hike to the town. "Remember me, I am Pipi, we go to the market together". The first couple of days can be most tiring, we got no privacy, we had at times six boys staring at us and trying to sell their services, boat cleaning jobs, laundry and guided tours through the village and to the market. Strangely enough, we were never offered any local handcraft or artwork.
We decided to go with our fellow cruisers from SY Makai and their one and only dedicated boat boy Wagner. He said "it would only cost little little and do not worry" (he charged $ 40,-, and agreed in the end to the handsome sum of $ 20,-), we came back with one of the sailboats, which was an experience worth the trip. Before we reached the market, we saw black pigs, sheep and chickens waiting to be taken to the market on demand, where they would be slaughtered if a buyer was present, mh.. .we heard the squeals, but did not look. Chickens would be bought alive and carried home upside down on a string. Safer that way, none of the locals have electricity and therefore no refrigeration.
I love shopping fresh locally grown produce and easily overlook hygiene and presentation, I find it very interesting to try new and exotic produce. The others were disgusted by the filth and bought just a few lemons. I could not find anything unknown, quiet a poor selection of locally grown vegetables, mostly spread out on a dirty piece of plastic on the floor, but tasty and unadulterated
16 April 2013
Sail boats were still used pedominantly by the fisherman. It was not unusal everyday to see 50 sail boats on the water. On Mondays and Thursday they took people to the local market along the coast
The local boys in the village would paddle out to our boat every day, have a chat and ask for work. We were told the daily income of a Haitian was as little as 2 USD. The house had no electricty or running water. The water was collected from a shallow well in the village 50 yards from the beach. Smaller children did not haver clothes.
The local sail boats were made on the island. For each member the carpenter would go into the forest to find a suitable piece of timber. Canoes were hollowed out of the trunk of mango trees and would give about 5 years of service. The supply of mango trees was limited so not everybody could have a canoe.