Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day 6: Labadee, Haiti

Please realize this post is from 2008.  We have since taken another cruise, stopping at Labadee, and you will be able to find a newer entry about Labadee in the "Cruise 2011" series of posts (should be posted by Nov 23 2011).

Labadee is a spot on the north shore of Haiti, owned by Royal Caribbean. There are no touristy things to see, but lots to do. We were sort of looking forward to it this time. Last time, I spent the entire morning in the bathroom, not even sure if I'd be able to go for the sea kayaking trip we had booked. I did make it, and we had a great time, but it didn't leave much time to explore. This time, we didn't book anything, thinking maybe we'd rent snorkels and fins. We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast (but not in the dining room), and made it ashore and explored a little before heading to the barbeque lunch.
These are the tenders that bring you over from the ship.

This is the 'water park'. The white things are 'iceburgs' like at the beach place in Cozumel. Dale's mother was going to play in the waterpark but didn't want to wear a lifejacket, which is required. This picture is from last year, and I was really glad we hadn't book it---it wasn't what I was expecting, as a 'waterpark'. It's $15 for 50 minutes. The little beach area to the right is where we left from for our kayaking. This all is to the right of the landing docks in the first picture. This was all we saw last year...we had our lunch at the bbq here, saw the giant waterslide and the waterpark, went kayaking (wish I had the waterproof camera then), and then went swimming to the left of the landing area (pictures later). We knew there was more, but didn't have time, or a map to explore.

In the first picture, you can just make out a tower and building. That's the tower you see in this picture, which is the launch pad for the "Dragon's Flight" zip line. This is all on the 'backside' of where we anchored/went ashore.

THis is the "Dragon's Breath" rocks that give the point it's name. Waves splash up against the rock on the left of the water that looks like a turtle's head. Perhaps 300 years ago it looked like a dragon, and the waves look like fiery breath. The walkway was closed off, this was as close as we could get.
This is where the zip line ends; there are actually 3 lines, I think. They come in with quite a bit of force, even though they've been slowing down as they come across the water.
The very end of the zip line, with the very top of the cruise ship in the background.
We continued to walk along the 'beach at the back' which is parallel to the zip line. We came across this sign (try clicking it to see if it gets bigger). Basically, this area is unsafe for swimming because of unpredictable water conditions, as well as Jellyfish, barracuda, sharks, sea urchins, sea lice and fire coral. The crazy thing.....walk down the beach 100ft and you're in the 'safe zone'. How do jellyfish and barracuda know the difference?!

Walking up the beach past the sign, heading towards the 'safe' beach area.

People zipping along the zip line across the unsafe water area.

The small smokey area to the left of the cruise ship is a charcoal fire. This is one of the primary sources of income for the people--making charcoal with wood they cleared from planting cash crops. Deforestation in Haiti is a significant problem. Wood fires for cooking---even on city streets apparently---affect the air quality too. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean, and the northern hemisphere too.

The tenders going back and forth. Waiting on the tender to go across is probably the longest part--the trip is actually just a few minutes.

This is the beach we swam at last year; the building can be seen in the first photo too--it's the 'security' building you pass through to get back on the tenders. We chose this beach to swim last year because it was close to the boat. This year, it just seemed nice, LOL (I can't remember, but I think we did swim at the 'safe' beach on the other side after walking down the beach, this time).

In the background, you can see a crane. They are building a new pier, to dock two ships at a time at. They are also building new buildings, over at that side. The new ship "Oasis" will be coming here, and they need to be able to accomodate the 5400-6100 guests. Man. That boat will be huge! THere were about 3600 guests on our ship!
We spent a LONG time in the water here. Oh, it was SO nice. You can stay in forever when it's warm and salty! We were bobbing around and I heard a man talking to another couple. I just knew somehow, from the way he was talking, that he was Canadian. The conversation was about gun laws. The first thing we heard was how the current, strict registration laws (are the federal, or just provincial?) are because of the Mark Lepine (?) shooting at a Montreal polytechnical institute. This happened I think, twenty years ago last December, but the gun laws are only a few years old. He was telling the other couple about the laws and how most crimes are commited with guns that were not registered, or were stolen, but you never hear about THAT in the news. The other man asked about hunting and the Canadian said hunting is really popular, but the laws severly regulate where you can carry guns. The woman in the couple asked "You mean, you can't carry a gun for personal protection?" I nearly snorted water out my nose. Turns out they were from Colarodo (at some point, maybe not anymore, I'm not sure), but even though THEY didn't need a gun, they still needed their RIGHT to carry one.
Then the conversation turned to the construction of the new pier. The Canadian told them Royal was building a new giant ship, "The Oyster of the Sea". OMG. We had to swim away after that!

This picture is from the first trip. On the right is the beach we were at. I think. Mmmm....I didn't think we were that close to the building. When we were in the water, and looked to the shore, we could see a lot of rocks on the right side of the beach, and the construction to the left, so I'm thinking we were at the smaller beach on the left. Okay, Rob agrees. The first year was the right beach, this year was the left beach. Oh what a life, to not be able to remember which Caribbean beach we swam at :) The construction hadn't started in this picture, but it was off to the left.

Going more to the left, that little pier is where they're building the new pier. The red roof is I think one of the bbq locations, and that beach at the back is the beach we walked along. There was also a crafter's market and flea market building, a children's supervised play/water splash pad, and an area with Haitian women doing hair braiding. It was all much smaller than we were expecting!

Going around the point, you can see the zip line tower, and the rocks sticking out are the Dragon's Breath, I think.
Last year, when we left Labadee, we went up to the pool deck for pictures. Everyday, both trips, there was live music at the pools in the afternoon. It was always very loud. Rob still managed to fall asleep though! I couldn't stand it, so I went for a walk.

This year, we went up to the pool deck (you feel a little slimy after swimming in the ocean. Well, we took care of that in our room ;) first, then went upstairs). It didn't seem like bad weather, but all of a sudden, the pool started making waves!! Where the guy is in the left corner, it would raise up and create a 10" waterfall over his shoulders!
I just had to take a video for better effect. I hope this works. It's not showing up on the preview. Click on the highlighted "video" above if this doesn't work.

I just published the post to see if it worked, and it did. But I forgot to mention our Monkey towel friend below!

The evening entertainment was a Production show "Once Upon a Time" We were pretty certain it was the show we saw last year as their dress rehearsal, so we didn't go (and we were busy getting ready for dinner; it was a 7pm show). After dinner was "The Quest" adult game show. It's held in the ice rink (boarded over). Each section is a team, and the cruise director guy tells something the team captains have to obtain and bring to RC pen, or a lady's bra, or shoe, or lipstick (the men always put the lipstick ON!), and other wild things. It's funny, but we sat at the top and didn't contribute anything. The show didn't start till 10:30pm so we were pretty tired anyway. Last year, one of the items was a tattoo on a lady, and our tablemate ran up so excited she had one to share...and then realized she was wearing a dress, and it was somewhere on her bikini line. She flipped up the dress anyway!
Can't remember if we did anything after that. Probably not, LOL!