National Geographic : 1976 Jan
Sailing a sea of mountains, the stone prowed Citadel was raised by Christophe at monstrous cost in human suffering. It was designed to withstand any invasion sent by Napoleon, whose forces had earlier been repulsed by the upstart new nation. Com manding a view of the distant sea, the for tress waited in vain for the expected attack. Its cannon (left), many bearing the sun burst symbol of France's Louis XIV, never fired a shot. Haiti: Beyond Mountains, More Mountains who speaks-and in French. His audience: most of the villagers, who number 800 in all, and a few friends from Cap Haitien and Port au Prince. But chiefly, he speaks to me. "Thank you for coming here to our home from your great and remote country we know only by name," he says. "When you landed, you said how beautiful you found the village and for this reason, how could we not love it more, we who live here? "Sometimes we ask ourselves what are you coming to see here? Is it the spring? Is it the beaches and the mountains? "We think the answer is this: You are in search of one place where the beauty of crea tion is still bursting!" With guitars and drums, Labadi's band of young men then plays and everyone dances the merengue on the beach. Tall, raw-boned Father Andre Lebarzic, in immaculate tan suit and white collar, joins hands with a doz en 8-year-old girls, equally immaculate in starched pastel dresses and big hair bows. They skip a wild ring-around-the-rosy. Ladies of the village ladle out big bowls of rice and savory goat stew. Village gentlemen pass around bottles of clairin, a fiery unre fined rum. Late in the afternoon, the crowd departs and I sit on my terrace and watch the sky turn mauve and stain the sea the same color. Little girls pass by and shyly wave, their sweet "bonsoirs" come soft as a breeze. DAYS THAT FOLLOW are filled with en counters. Each morning a tall, gaunt old man with stoic face appears to rake my beach. Since he rakes all the beaches, I think he must work for the village. But since the village has no public funds, I pay him. The milkman, Pierre, brings the cow to the door and draws a five-cent cup for my kitten, whom he showers with gentle affection. Other entrepreneurs drop by. One has a chicken to sell for a dollar, another a crab for 40 cents. Superb langouste, clawless but with meat as tender and tasty as Maine lobster, dangle before my eyes, only three dollars for four. Limes, sweet small bananas called "figs," pa paya, fresh butterbeans, fresh thyme are priced at a few pennies. I stroll wide village paths worn smooth by bare human feet. No car or other vehicle dis putes my passage in a place whose only access to the outside world is by rugged mountain path or by open sea.