Monday, May 28, 2012

Ranch le Montcel

Quisqueya planned an 11th grade retreat in the mountains of Haiti, and I went to speak about preparing for college applications.
Main building at Ranch le Montcel in Belot, Haiti
My dear friend and QCS counselor Irene was supposed to lead these sessions, but she came down with a nasty case of malaria at the last minute.

Ranch le Montcel is Haiti's only ecotourist hotel, with 16 acres of farming, animals roaming, and gorgeous natural landscapes.

Le Montcel is only 14 kilometers up the mountain  from Port-au-Prince, but it takes two full hours to reach. Thirty of us- the 11th graders plus several teachers- jumped in cage trucks and SUVs of various reliability and trudged up the switchbacks and over the unpaved mountain hills.

In the chilly weather, I wore a three shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes and was cold. On the mountain there are no mosquitoes and the air is crisp; it is easy to see why the rich prefer to live there.

I took a nature walk with the Meadths: Rod (my principal), Brittany (his wife and my friend), Asher (almost 3) and Isaiah (born one year ago today!).
Asher found a tree house
I'm sorry, did I stumble into a teleporter from Haiti to Europe?
Wild berries
Walk down that lonesome road all by yourself
The piglet refused to play
Garden growing carrots, green onions
A carrot birth!
Somebody is missing a part
Strawberry fields

Can someone please identify this fruit? The Haitian men working the fruit fields told Rod it was German; they also later told Irene the fruits were Peruvian. Hmm.

I taught about five hours that weekend: everything from how to use the College Board website for research, to setting senior year goals, to navigating the process of acquiring recommendation letters.

The facilities at Le Montcel were comfortable and certainly above-average for Haiti hotels. The cabin where I stayed was, I realized, the only 100% wooden building I've seen in Haiti. Sitting on the balcony of the ivy-covered restaurant Le Geranium, we ate produce grown right on the property. The cows were sauntering in view of the patio; you can't get more "locavore" than that! The mint leaves in my tea and the strawberries in my juice all come from the ranch as well.

My soul felt good out there.

Katie

3 comments:

  1. Great photos! I think I found the mystery fruit... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum_muricatum

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  2. Hi, Stumbled across your blog trying to find out more about Haiti as we possibley movign there with an NGO next year.
    I have just finished 3 years in Cameroon. I have no knowledge really at all of Haiti and would love more. We are moving with 2 kids (2 and 5) so I have to be a bit informed before we jump in.
    The fruit, I do recognise. It is known as an Aubergine by Cameroonians (yes I know, nothing like what I would call an aubergine) but apparently the Germans introduced it the same time as they introduced the Neem trees, which come from india. I know the Germans brought loads of plants from India to Cameroon, maybe these too?

    Anyway, if you fancy giving us a 'what it's like in Haiti' bearing in mind we have already lived in some pretty full on places, that would be really great. I guess I want to know, stupid normal expat stuff like hospitals, schools, shops, safety, places to relax etc etc.

    If you know of the NGO habitiat for humanity and their reputation in Haiti on the ground, that would also be useful information. All the best.

    Tom (tomiasorensen@gmail.com)

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