Mennen M La : Following My Highest Excitement

Location: Les Cayes & Ile-a-vache, South Department


In life, my friends, sometimes you will feel like a lab rat in a labyrinth. Traveling the same traffic-filled paths of Port-au-Prince and seeing the same buildings you see every single day and feeling like you are running towards a finish line that will give you salvation but really you are just running inside the wheel of a pile of never ending work. Life has become a blur, the days are blending into each other and the only reason you know it’s the next day is because you vaguely remember doing this before. Then suddenly, opportunity knocks at your door.

Knock knock. It’s Sophie from ‘Mennen’m La’, a tourism agency contacting you to join their next tour to Ile-a-vache. 3 whole days’ worth of fun.

Your heart nudges with excitement. Here’s your sign from the Universe that THIS just cannot be life, that this vacation could be just what you need to wake up from this dull dream you’ve been living.  Flashes of white sandy beaches and that diri kole and bannan peze they serve, seasoned just the way you like it.

New adventures, places you’ve never been, people you’ve never seen, away from the bore of what you call ‘real life.  Aaaah…  yesss… you begin to breathe deeply again. Only one thing stands in your way: that pile of work from job #1, job #2, and that school you planned to graduate from this year (remember that one ?)

To go or not to go? That is the question

The reasons not to were piling up and beginning to creep up and suffocate my newfound reason for happiness so what did I do? I booked my trip with ‘Mennen’m La’. Because I deserve better. Because I owe it to myself to make this life count and the only way it will is if I follow my highest excitement every chance I get and make this journey into a succession of exciting moments and I revel in it !!

There! (My pep talk done did it again)

My adventure had begun. I even managed to infect my workaholic mother with my enthusiasm and she along with my uncle Jo booked the trip at the very last minute! Mwahahahahah ^-^

~~~~~

Days prior, we each received an email with our Contact Information Forms, Itinerary Plan and a What-to-pack list. The plan was to meet up in Jacquet where the buses would depart at 8 am sharp.

Staff members with bright orange shirts greeted us with enough warmth and aliveness to make the most depressed person crack a smile. You could feel the excitement in the air. Most had already switched to wearing their Mennen’m La shirt along with the large hat, a mini bag and maraca (commonly called Cha-cha) we’d all been gifted. I later found that inside the mini-bag was a complimentary tiny 5-star Barbancourt bottle. Oowee! I made my way to the breakfast table to get some freshly made ji seriz (cherry juice) and peeked at a boiled-egg-anchoves sandwich wrapped in cassava pitas. Nice.

Quickly the time to board the buses arrived and we got on our merry way to the south of the country. Destination: Les Cayes. The itinerary included:

  • A visit to the Vetiver factory in Les Cayes
  • Catching a boat ride to a small nearby island called Ile-a-vache
  • Touring Ile-a-vache and sleeping there for 2 nights
  • Quick stop at Abaka Bay
  • Returning to Les Cayes to see the Botanical Garden
  • Head back to Port-au-Prince and make it by the wee-wee hours of the night

Now as much I would love to revisit every little detail of that trip with you and  to share the discoveries and the intensity with which I was living life during those 3 days, I cannot possibly. I can only wish that you will take a trip like this the next time the choice presents itself;  so that you may live this experience inwardly and not just by reading this. You will not regret it. In fact you will thank yourself and you’ll appreciate Mennen’m La for the uniqueness of their trips.

It’s not just about letting your eyes feast on places that will always be here, it’s that feeling of connectedness you get when you are on that boat ride with everyone, a little bit of fear, a lot of excitement, the joy and the sheer laughter from Jean-Luc Hamilton’s jokes. The way the habitants of that village welcomed us, shared their home with us with so much love and familiarity, the fact that Mennen’m la had created a space where they were valued and able to express themselves and teach us their way of life. It’s the people and priceless moments like these that I’ll always remember

Madan Ti Pousiè’s  skills in baking bread shaped like sea creatures

Watching almonds go from their raw state to become Tablèt Zanmann 

Seeing a lambi conch taken out of its shell for the very first time

Preparing  epis (seasoning) in our pilon with the cook 

or Singing Troubadour music with the band as the night unravels

Among many other things I’d never heard of like the doodoo-looking seafood called ‘Pin de mer’ still can’t find it on Google because life is off Google my friends! 😀

The love was there. Bondye {te} la (God was there)… that’s what was written on one of the boats that transported us to Ile-des-Amoureux and how fitting is that. You can tell the locals love Sophie. She has this peaceful maturity and realness about her and that energy pours out effortlessly. I met some very cool people on that trip from all backgrounds, and I got to live in a very simple way. And simple is often SO enriching.

There was the option to shower with a bucket in a conventional bath but I preferred doing it in the outdoor bath. Naked. Just me and nature under a shower rod. Seating on the grass to eat food that the people of the village had prepared themselves. That food was so good, there is no other Haitian rice I’ve tasted that compares. Waking up inside a tent with the sun as my only alarm, the cool breeze of the beach caressing my skin while the sound of the waves rocked me to sleep at night. Honestly, I didn’t want to ‘wake up’ from this ‘vacation’. I wanted THAT to be my ‘real life’. Why couldn’t it be? This way of life was so natural to me. I could move here, grow my own food and build a little hut. 6 months in Port-au-Prince and 6 months here. I was seriously having those thoughts. I still am.

I am grateful for this trip. Mennen’m la gives you a real 100% local experience, a true time to immerse yourself in a community and share with others. I learned so many things about Haiti and its people and being away from what I’m familiar with helped me gain clarity on a lot of things about myself and who I am and who I want to be.

~~~~~

Why you should go to the Vetiver Factory:

Did you know that Haiti produces 50% of the vetiver oil in the world? That vetiver oil is used in all luxury perfums? Did you know that some people like the Queen Elizabeth and Bill Gates have their own personal custom-made perfumes?  Do you know what the Queen Elizabeth smells like? Were you aware that the man who broke all barriers and introduced Vetiver on the international market is a Haitian man? Do you know his name? Do you know that * Pierre Leger * made his own perfume and the tiny bottle sells for 1,200 Euros? Can you guess who I took a selfie with?! He makes me so proud. Not simply because he’s a Haitian but for the enormous potential we all have to create and to use our gifts and to exploit the gifts of nature to do goodness everywhere on this Earth.

[Pictures are not allowed for confidentiality reasons. All the more reasons to go]

Why you should go to Ile-a-vache:

The people. The beaches. To experience Anse-a-L’eau.  To see starfish and sheeps. Go to Lover’s island … Ile-des-amoureux. A small little piece of land surrounded by the bluest waters. Handsdown one of my top 5 magical earthly moments. As the boat prepared to dock, watching all the birds take flight at once and circle over us, I felt like I was in a dream, a beautiful mesmerizing dream. Nothing can ever capture that.

Why you should go to Abaka Bay:

The beach. The decoration. The ceramic art on the floors. The pricy but orgasmically delicious food. The hotel rooms if you decide to stay. Great spot for lovebirds.

Why you should go to the Botanical Garden:

It’s the only one of its kind in Haiti. To do cartwheels on an open grassy field. You can actually buy a tree from the garden and transport it to your own garden. To see the “Inception flower” I just named it that, it has a flower within a flower within a flower. If being in nature and supporting this effort to plant more is not enough just think about all the awesome selfies you can take there.

It’s funny, weeks after this trip, my mom, my uncle and I still talk about how refreshing this 3-day journey was. Mennen’M La’s staff was the most helpful, kind and proactive group of people. Not to mention that the men, if I must say so myself, could gladly be mistaken for very handsome models. I’m just putting that out there… for the single ladies who may need motivation. I totally recommend it.

Go. Be wild. Have fun. Live simply and honor that light in you urging to follow your highest excitement.

Keep greening loves 🙂

 

Advertisements

2 responses to “Mennen M La : Following My Highest Excitement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s