I had the most WONDERFUL adventure on my last Thursday here with Ninotte! Before coming to Haiti, I heard about Bassin Bleu and how I must go there while in Jacmel. It's a set of extremely BLUE freshwater pools up in the mountains near Jacmel, and one of the loveliest natural attractions around! I read that you need to take a Haitian guide and then you can either ride up on a donkey or take a looong hike on foot... but we took the modern option.
Ninotte and I took a moto taxi from the clinic down into town, near the lower/Western edge of the city. There, we switched from our little, city-friendly, motorbike to a bigger, legit, motorcycle taxi. This guy took us all the way up to Bassin Bleu, or at least as far as you can go before the final 20 minute walk to the pools. This was the moto ride of a lifetime.
The first step of the moto ride now was to leave town and cross the river that flows by Jacmel and down into Jacmel bay. We rode along the edge of this shallow, slow-moving, greyish-tan muddy river until the driver picked our crossing spot. Ninotte and I got off so he could ride his bike through the river (!!) without the extra weight, and we waded all the way across! It got mid-thigh-deep at the center, although the current wasn't dangerous (only strong enough to threaten to steal my flip flops off my feet). I was the slowest, which was unsurprising and kinda funny - the driver stood there watching me struggle across after Ninotte arrived. ha.
Part of the river, near where we crossed.
What?? There he goes...
We piled back onto the moto and we were off, once again! We were soon under thick, green tree cover - any hint of city left over from Jacmel was left behind before we crossed the river. There was an occasional hut with things for sale, or little shack and yard where some country dwellers lived, but it was the beginning of the jungle! Our road was long; I think the ride took about 45 minutes. We started climbing pretty soon, and the road was anything but boring! There were a few paved sections, but it was mostly some interesting combination of steep, bumpy, really steep, rocky, and steep. A few times, the driver asked us to scoot forward on the bike so its front tire could pull us up the mountain better...! There weren't many signs, but one of them said 22% (referencing the grade of steepness)!!
Despite the "excitement" of the ride, it was BEAUTIFUL!! After a ride through lower-down jungle and one very tiny one-block-long rural town, we started going up and getting great views of pristine, luscious, green hills and mountains. It only got better and better! Finally, we got way up to the top and paused at an incredible vista - it looks out over Jacmel and the bay. Pure glory! (But it also shows how the truly dirty river flows right into the bay, full of trash, pollution, and things that we don't want to mention...)
The gorgeous view of Jacmel - note the brown smear coming out of the river
We continued on, back down again (but only slightly), until we finally reached the little group of buildings at the trailhead for Bassin Bleu. There was the requisite touristy art shop, and then a bare-bones little office (i.e. completely empty room save for one little desk, a paper, and a pen). After some arguing between two potential guides (this took a while), we finally set off to the pools!
Here, we had to cross a tiny bridge made of a hollow tree trunk
Who needs guides, anyway? Ninotte takes the lead!!
Awesome tree in the jungle
One of a few old houses along the way that are long-since abandoned.
This one is much more intact than the others.
It was only about 20 minutes on foot, through jungle, across a river, past a couple of old ruins, through some more jungle... and WOAH. They weren't making anything up when they named the pools for their BLUE color!! There were a few pools in a row, each flowing into the next. We worked our way up to the best one at the top.
The first pool...
The second pool...
I thought this pool had the best name. YES.
We had to work a bit harder to get up to the final, most incredible pool. After climbing a long set of stone steps, we reached a point where the guide attached a sturdy rope to a root and helped us each climb down the rock a short ways, placing our feet in each little pocket in the rock as we went. Then we went up another little set of steps carved into the rock, and...
Preparing the rope at the top
Ninotte, crossing through the water to the next set of steps
BAM. We rounded a corner and saw the beginning of the final pool: bluest, deepest, coldest, cleanest, and complete with a huge, dramatic waterfall and some rocks to jump off. The rock walls around the sides went up quite high, even with the top of the waterfall on all sides, so this was a shady, hidden-away, little spot of heaven. We stripped down to swim suits and got in - and the water was actually cold! After swimming in warm-ish ocean water (almost too warm for comfort, sometimes) all summer, this was such a pleasant, welcome shock! I decided as we left that it was, quite literally, the perfect temperature for swimming. It starts out cold but is just perfectly cool, not ever seeming warm but not cold enough to actually ever get too cold and force you out. I COULD HAVE STAYED FOREVER.
SO BLUE. SO REFRESHING. YES.
I jumped in and swam across, feeling successful...
until I saw where the guide was trying to get me to climb (look up) - NOT A CHANCE.
Pure. Bliss. Pure bliss. PURE BLISS.