On-Site Haiti: My Surprising Intro to the Port-au-Prince Party Scene
Let’s go out!
Music to my ears after a long day of meetings during my many frequent business trips to the Caribbean. When last I heard these magic words, though, I was in Haiti… Port-au-Prince, to be exact… Not exactly most people’s idea of a buzzing nightlife capital, right?
I certainly had my doubts, images of the abject destitution that the mainstream media will have you believe still envelopes the entire country emblazoned on my mind following a full first day hunkered down behind closed boardroom doors. The doubt must’ve flashed across my face like one of those Amber Alert boards across the highway. My local Haitian colleague, Jonathan, reassured me:
Trust me, you’ll be surprised. Bobby will take good care of you.
If you’re visiting Haiti for the first time, Bobby is a great guy to know. He runs a local tour operator company and travel agency called Agence Citadelle. Bobby is also not his real name (it’s Pierre Chauvet), he seems to know everybody, and he loves to have a good time.
It was a Thursday night and Bobby was busy showing a busload of Canadian visitors what nightlife in Port-au-Prince is all about. We caught up with him at La Reserve, a cool and smooth jazzy spot so tucked away in a forested area of the upscale enclave of Petion-Ville that you might think you made a wrong turn upon entering its parking lot. Working our way through the dim lights and over an uneven rocky path, we soon entered an opening with more lights and a variety of seating/dining areas…
Up top, we found the bar and a jazz quartet performing sultry numbers in English that were heavy on the sax with an infectious underpinning of reggae rhythms mixed in for added spice. It was July, but the high elevation and tropical forest surroundings made the place feel cool, almost chilly – nice.
I could’ve stayed at La Reserve all night, but Thursday nights in Port-au-Prince are seriously too action-packed for just one spot. Next stop: Brasserie Quartier Latin.
Where as La Reserve was a bit, err, reserved, Quartier Latin was packed and jumpin’! Part of the reason has to do with its location in the heart of Petion-Ville, no doubt, but the bigger deal here on Thursday nights is the amazing live Cuban band, Melao Latino.
Amid flickering candles and festive white Christmas lights, people of all nationalities sat at tables covered in starched white linens in Quartier Latin’s outdoor back patio. Those that weren’t dining were dancing, or holding up the bar as authentic sounds direct from Havana cast us all under a spell.
This was not the Haiti I was taught to know… This was more like Coconut Grove in Miami; lively, vibrant, with an eminently cosmopolitan flair as chic as it was fun.
Again, I wanted to stay, but the best was yet to come back downtown at the historic Hotel Oloffson, home to what is arguably the most legendary weekly party in all of the Caribbean!
THAT, however, is a story for another day…
If you’re keen on hooking up with my friend Bobby for his intro tour to Port-au-Prince nightlife, drop him an email at [email protected], or call him at 011-509-2940-5900. You can also visit Agence Citadelle online here to get a rundown on all of Bobby’s many varied travel services.