We escaped the office early enough to make it back up the hill to Ibo lele in less than 90 minutes and the ride gave me a chance to catch up more with Christophe and Jean-Luc. Already settled in to a routine, we had an hour to catch up on email and relax, a shower, out on the terrace for a quick sundowner beer followed by dinner orders and eat. The sun set over the Caribbean Sea to our west, momentarily lighting up the mountains facing us, the bare rock glinting in the light at times. A plane took off from the airport and soared above the city and the light caught it too. Then the mix of mist and smoke from thousands of cooking fires below obscured most of the detail of the valley till the streetlights started to shine through.
Next day my colleagues headed back to the ministry, while I waited around for our driver to return and headed west to my appointment with the national GIS. The route took us through the centre of Petionville and down a grid of streets with a Bohemian mix of cafes and shops. Several walls along the road were coated in vibrant coloured paintings ; thickly layered canvases with both naive but rich interactions of natural scenery, people, products, agriculture, market scenes, and coastal scenes. Another section of road was adorned with metal work on a massive scale – large wall hangings of suns, free standing sculptures and sheets worked into grand designs.
The road wound around the precipitous ridges coming off the mountains, down one side of a valley, zigzagging to the river in the middle, crossing a small bridge and zigzagging back up the other side. In some places high walls shielded large compounds with luxurious villas; right next door I might get a glimpse down a track into a valley to a dense huddle of shacks with men, women, children, dogs and chickens busying themselves with the mid morning chores. And when the view opened up, I would get glimpses of houses clinging to every space on the steep hillside and nothing but footpaths linking them to the rest of the city.