Ayiti – Land of High Mountains… Literally and Figuratively
Beyond mountains, more mountains. The famous Haitian proverb symbolizes so much about the Caribbean’s most star-crossed country. One on hand, there’s Haiti’s protracted history of political instability and violence. There’s also a litany of catastrophic natural disasters. At the same time, there’s also the unbreakable spirit, limitless creativity, and ingenuity of the Haitian people. The strength of a proud nation that somehow persists against all odds. At the end of the day, though, there are those incredible mountains. Incredible mountains that formed the foundation of the country’s original name – Ayiti.
The word comes from the Taíno Indians who flourished throughout the Caribbean long before Columbus. As we’ve touched on previously, indigenous peoples employed a practical approach to naming the many disparate lands that would eventually be known as the Caribbean. For Ayiti, which for them consisted of all of Hispaniola, the best name was obvious.
Land of high mountains.
The English translation of Ayiti certainly fits the Dominican Republic side of Hispaniola. That is, after all, where you’ll find the tallest peak in the entire Caribbean.
The name Ayiti, though, also still very much applies to Haiti. Mountains cover nearly 80% of Haiti’s 10,714 square miles. This includes five mountain ranges – Montagnes Noires, Massif de la Hotte, Massif de la Selle, Chaine de Mateaux, and Massif de Nord, a portion of which is pictured above.
It takes some doing, of course, to enjoy views like this. I snapped this photo from high atop the Citadelle Laferrière. The legendary fort rises 130 feet from the summit of Bonnet a L’Eveque Mountain. Elevation: 3,000 feet.
Traveling here, experiencing the the Citadelle, and taking in views like this will always remain among the most incredible adventures of my life.
Stay tuned for the full story coming soon…