Jacmel, the tiny enclave in southern Haiti, about a 3 hour drive from the hectic capital of Port-au-Prince, is a tiny gem in a country that appears to have been left out to pasture.
There are two ways to get there: jam-packed local bus with zero AC or suspension, manned by a crazy, drunk driver, for the equivalent of about $5, or a private car that’s cool and comfy, for about $100. For me the choice was simple.
The drive is quite spectacular. Once you finally maneuver out of the chaotic capital, you begin the ascent through lush tropical greenery, passing by tiny towns and many locals who are walking, selling vegetables or just hanging out. Two hours later, you descend to the Caribbean Sea.
And here you have Jacmel, a lively, friendly, city strewn with beautiful buildings from colonial times. You’ll also find loads of galleries and workshops, in which locals produce a medley of items – masks, bowls, figurines – mostly from paper-mache,
Outside of town, is one single road that follows the sea. The main means of travel is on the back of a motorbike, and it’s cheap, albeit a bit uncomfortable after 15 minutes. But you can always easily flag one down at any time, day or night.
The best places to go are either up into the hills, where you can mingle with the locals who are most likely doing laundry, or along the coast, where there are some of the prettiest beaches and some of the best local seafood I have ever eaten.