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

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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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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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