Cap-Haïtien: the Columbus shore and gateway to the great citadel of the Caribbean

Columbus fist set foot in the Americas somewhere along the north coast of today’s Haiti. That first spot holds its identity secret, so a walk along the coast one can imaging each turn to be the fateful landing.

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Where did Columbus land?

Cap-Haïtien is northern Haiti’s principal city though compactly arrayed along the coast and easily navigable by foot. Coming from the airport through the traffic chokepoint of a narrow bridge that doubles as the main market is not the most relaxing entrée. There are no major ‘must-sees’ in town, the main activity being taking in the hustle and bustle amind colorful architecture, if you can see through the sweat dripping down to your eyes.

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Cap-Haïtien

The town mellows heading north on along the coast as the paved road shifts to direct and peters out to foot paths, covering a series of ruined forts, ending  at Fort Picolet, deserted by all except a couple curious dogs.

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Fort Picolet guarding the bay

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And a dog guarding Fort Picolet

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Derelict lighthouse

My flight arrived mid-afternoon, leaving me two hours before sunset to reach the fort and return. 2-3 hours is plenty when keeping a steady pace with occasional stops. The last stretch to the fort requires a scrabble up over broken rock stairs. A delightful end to a day that started in New York.

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A fort of my own for a moment

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