Bassin Bleu and Beyond

Today we woke up bright and early at our beautiful hotel in Jacmel and after a delicious breakfast we checked out and started on our way to Bassin Bleu.

I did not know what to expect from the site, all I knew is that we would be swimming. We drove up a huge mountain where we could see a gorgeous view of Jacmel until we got to a small village from which we had to walk the rest of the way up to Bassin Bleu because the path is very rocky and narrow.

Our fifteen minute hike lead by a few local tour guides took us up and down the mountain and over a few creeks. When we finally reached our destination in front of us was a beautiful natural basin of water inside a cavern. We all slipped into the cool water and swam out to the rock in the middle of the natural pool where we could marvel at the beauty of this basin.  

We were surrounded by tall rock walls and a waterfall. I took some time to just lie on my back and stare up at the blue sky far above me thinking about how beautiful the country of Haiti really is.

After swimming and jumping in the pool for a while we had to leave the basin. Our hike back felt much faster and easier since we were more experienced with the trail. After quickly changing and drinking some coconut milk straight from the coconut we continued on our way.

Our next stop was a visit to a community called La Montagne. We enjoyed a beautiful lunch and then learned about this incredible community from Lucia (a Tufts alum, go jumbos!). La Montagne is a rural area high in the mountains of Haiti. One of the main problems with the area is that the majority of the youth seek higher education and jobs outside the community and do not return.

Consequently the community suffers from an attrition of talent. In response members of the community living in Jacmel decided to return to La Montagne and form OPADEL which now runs a series of community programs.

OPADEL helps build subsidized houses, schools and communal coffee processing equipment. In addition they have experimented with cheaper, local building materials. After taking a tour of a house they built and some of the other community spaces we were given the opportunity to talk with OPADEL members.

They stressed that they are creating sustainable solutions for their community. Unlike many NGOs OPADEL does not give anything for free. For example building a house may cost up to 6,000 USD, however OPADEL will build one for a family on the conditions that they contribute 2,000 USD and help in any way with the building.

Over the last few years OPADEL has succeeding in building a stronger rural community and has even sent students to university who have returned to aid OPADEL. Before we left we were treated to a dessert of mango, pineapple, and Haitian apricot, which actually tastes more like apple. We loaded up the bus and started on our three hour drive from Jacmel to Port-au-prince.

- Julia and Kara

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May 28, 2013 at 10:19 PM




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