Anyone keen on seeing and experiencing the Caribbean “the way it used to be” would do well to head to Haiti. Just as the country’s serendipitous stagnation spawned what is today the world’s finest coffee (buy it here!), many other aspects of daily life, unsullied by outside influences, remain as they always have.
For instance, women and men throughout the country still balance heavy loads atop their heads while traveling by foot much as they used to do back home in St. Croix when I was kid; a rare sight in the Virgin Islands today.
You see another example in the image above.
I captured it in Petit Goave just before boarding a powerboat over to the sweetly secluded shores of Bananier Beach – a lone fisherman canoeing across the Bay of Petit Goave in the early-morning light much as his ancestors probably did for generations before him.
It’s not so much the act, though, that speaks to the past as the canoe itself.
Crafted from one singular tree trunk, the canoe, like this one, hearkens back to a centuries-old Taino Indian boat-building tradition once dominant throughout all of the West Indies.
When you visit Haiti’s celebrated National Museum in Port-au-Prince, you’ll see images and a full-scale model of just this very same type of boat in an exhibit highlighting Hispaniola’s earliest Taino inhabitants.
Seeing it still in use, though, really brings some of that history to life in a way you just can’t experience anywhere else.