Life is a continual exercise in expectation management. Witness our journey to the Bassin-Bleu waterfall outside of Jacmel in southern Haiti.
Haiti, it turns out, possesses quite a many blue pools, all quite aptly if not unimaginatively named Bassin-Bleu or “blue pool.” The most famous of these, pictured below, is outside the town of Jacmel. If all the photos of Haiti's bassins-bleus are anything to go by, each one is pretty much the essence of inviting: hidden and tempting; turquoise, deep blue or mystically translucent pools of water depending on the angle of the sun and time of the day of the photo.
But half the fun is getting there.
“To get to Bassin-Bleu, we’ll pick up the donkeys in town,” Cyril, our guide, told us as our van drove along Haiti’s southern coast towards Jacmel.
So I’m thinking, and in fact even utter aloud, “Awesome, donkeys. I love donkeys!” (I have a soft spot for the world’s most under-appreciated beast of burden, by the way.)
Unfortunately, I soon learned that “donkey” is slang for pickup truck. As in a pickup truck with wooden plank seats in the back that pound the rear-ends of passengers while navigating Haitian mountain-tucked moonscapes. On our donkey, we wound our way into the hills, even forded a river, then caught a wide view of Haiti’s southern coast along the way. If you are going to bruise your ass, you might as well enjoy it.
Finally, the truck pulls to a stop as we reach a sort of trailhead. From there, we take a short walk, after which we turn the corner to find a shallow patch of turbid brown liquid staring back at us.
“No < insert expletive here > way,” I say to myself. OK, my disappointment may have squeaked out for public consumption.
Perhaps in response, one of our guides says: “Because of the recent rains, it’s going to be a little murky.”
“You think?” I utter under my breath, sort of.
I don’t know if the comic timing was intended, but those brown pools served as a way to take the wind out of my sails and reset expectations. Any hue would have bested the stagnant brown of what looked like the terminus of the Ganges.
After another short walk, we turned a final corner, made a short rappel down some rocks, crossed some more shallow water, mounted another rock and witnessed a waterfall healthily clearing itself into a truly blue turquoise pool. Now this was Bassin-Bleu, a protected little forest oasis whose soundtrack consisted of a waterfall punctuated by the joyful shrieks and cheers of people in its clutches.
There was nothing more to do than jump in and join them. Refreshing, relaxing and rejuvenating. I remember recalling later that evening that my skin and hair felt remarkable, as if given new life. Hidden pools of natural mountain-fed water will do that to you.
Open the panorama below to catch a glimpse. Next step: get yourself there, take a dip, soak it up, repeat.
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