ready for the celebrations of the Fete de la Mar in Pestel

In the little town of Pestel the local people celebrate the Fete de la Mer, Festival of the Sea, whilst Rara bands cruise the streets.

On the way to Jeremie we stopped at a small village called Pestel, which had organised a ‘fete de la mer’ in the Easter weekend, complete with boat races, swimming contests (about half of the contestants had to be picked up by the rescue boat half way the harbour) and canoe races (one of the canoes sunk just before the start). Lots of music, especially from the so-called Rara bands, who were competing for the first price in the Rara band contest (the first price was a crate of rum, and three cartons of cigarettes!!). Rara bands are small groups of musicians that roam the Haitian countryside, and increasingly the towns, between Carnival and Easter, dressed in women’s cloths and armed with simple instruments and a rather monotonous repertoire. They are somehow related to Voodoo rituals, and command a large following, which subsequently blocks the roads, of course (how come it seems that everything in Haiti has to do with blocking the roads? This is the third major cause, after burning tyres and heavy rain, and there are already so few roads in this country).

Pestel also has a small fort, well, hardly recognisable as such, but build on a hill with a spectacular view over the village, the sea and the surrounding countryside.

next: the discontent

Pestel town, or village, really

and a local market woman

a family looking out over the festivities

the start of the harbour canoe competition

one of the contenders, pretty relaxed

anticipating on a second baby already, perhaps?

and the swimming race, also in the harbour

sailing races, in all different classes

this is standard class

and a bit bigger

and these are the tall ships of Haiti, or at least of Pestel

one of the Rara bands marching through town

nationalistic colours of the large horns so typical for the bands

this is from above, out of the hotel window

a whole troupe gathering in front of the hotel

uniformly dressed as women

and another horn, complete with shades

a different band, and their hangers-on

more Rara festival, once again from out of the window

and this is then a bit uneasy, and perhaps totally unnecessary?

Pestel from above

the fort, or what remains, on a hill above Pestel

and the, then still pretty young, explorers themselves, celebrating the ascend with a Prestige beer

the view of the festival area along the quay of Pestel port

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