Photo Journal

Saint-Marc

Saint-Marc, Haiti

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

 Tucked between the mountains along the Western coast in the Artibonite Department lies the port city of Saint-Marc, teeming with motorcycle taxis, market vendors, and traces of historical French architecture.

As is the case in all of Haiti's cities, Saint-Marc is traffic-heavy. Motorcycles zoom between cars, tap-taps, and buses to get everyday customers to their destinations: some to school, some to work, some to wherever the next errand of the day is located.

 

This moto taxi driver transports a woman from the local market

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

The colors and tones of the everyday moving portraits of the streets find themselves in a lot of the locally-made art. Small scale models of tap-taps and buses can be purchased at local artisans' shops to take home with you as a reminder of the island, each of them featuring one of the many phrases and isms that are so common on the sides of these vehicles.

 

Local artists capitalize on the culture for souvenirs

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

The accessibility of public transportation coupled with the fact that Saint-Marc is a port city, nestled right on the shoreline of Haiti means that there is widespread access to public beaches. The scenic views of the ocean lapping at the soft sand while palm trees sway above are enough to make anyone pull over for a cold Prestige with a view!

 

Locals enjoy public access to many of the beaches in Saint-Marc

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

If you are in town without a car, you're in luck: tap-taps pass through Route Nationale 1 all day long, and can take you in either direction for a measly fare. This means that a determined visitor could organize to go to the beach and come back to the city center— all in a day. If you've heard fantastic tap-tap tales from your friends, be prepared to hear your own.

Tap-taps are the primary form of transportation for locals

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

Saint-Marc has the added charm of being a provincial city, as well. Visitors don't need to go far after a beer if they would like to take a break from the city sights and sounds. Peaceful plains with gorgeous views on goats, cows, and horses grazing the fields are always a short while away.

Two women herd their drove of goats as the sun sets

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

The city of Saint-Marc is extremely walkable and much safer, compared to Port-au-Prince. Colorful front doors and walls line the narrow streets filled with passersby. The experience of roaming its streets is comparable to walking through Panama's Casco Viejo.

A teenage girl walks home from the market in Saint-Marc

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

Everything you need is exactly right where you need it, whether in the city center or on Route Nationale 1. If you're thirsting for fresh coconut water, vendors have wheelbarrows filled with coconuts at the ready. Armed with machetes, they will be more than happy to chop one open for any customer.

A local vendor sells fresh coconut along Route Nationale 1

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

These same streets are home to remnants of French architecture on downtown Saint-Marc storefronts, weathered by years of resilience. Predating Haiti's independence in 1804, the country's architectural history is still markedly present in many of its cities.

Historical architecture is reflected on buildings throughout the city

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

Much of Haiti's workforce is guided not by the time on a clock but by the rhythm and movement of the elements around them. Most are up before sunrise, and many stay out to work just until after sundown. Resilience has become one of the Haitian people's trademark character traits, and even the smallest parts of their day are representative of that.

 

A man walks home after a long day's work

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty

After all, isn't that what keeps us all going? The will to stick to a plan just another day, another month, or another year. Haitians have long ago learned that motivation alone won't get them far; the discipline to be consistent, to put in the same effort every day, is what gets you some place— and every day, you pledge to do better.

Tap-taps transport people and goods along the main highway

Photo: Mélissa Jeanty


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