Crazy Town, Crazy Island – Caught by the storm

As we headed down to the boats the clouds burst, cold plops of rain fell on us, but we thought we would try and launch the boats.  We sat in a metal one and one of the villagers pushed us off the mud.  I tend to be of the opinion in the tropics that you are going to get wet, so up to this point had not carried any waterproofs with me – they usually made me more wet from sweat on the inside than dry from the rain on the outside.  And when the sun comes out you dry quickly.  But this day I had made a mistake – I had on a heavy polo shirt which sucked up the rain.  Additionally it had gone very cold  with the squalls on the lake and the water cooling the air.

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We  are heading out on a metal boat?

We still pursued our destination but since the guys only had poles and oars we had not even cleared the nearshore lilies when the first thunder clap hit.  Being in a metal boat in a lightning storm did not appeal to any of us so we headed back to the black shore as quickly as we could with the limited forms of propulsion we had.  But the rain, which was already steady , turned torrential.  The inside of the boat was filling up fast and the passengers had to bail as fast as possible with whatever we had to hand.  We slipped onto the mud and scrambled out and headed to the vehicle.  The rain made it difficult to see further than the end of your nose, and was turning the beach into a quagmire and it took some moments to get back in the 4×4.  Jean Luc and Christophe were wearing thin plastic ponchos (which have now become part of my essential kit) but even they looked soggy and bedraggled when we got back in the vehicle, which we quickly steamed up.

We sat in the rainstorm for five minutes – it not being safe to move off as we could not see.  Eventually the rain did ease but it was still pouring and there seemed no point in trying to reach the cages now – we had to be careful to be back in Port Au Prince by nightfall from both the security issues and the fact our guides needed their evening free.

So we started back to the village and the main road.  The weather had other ideas.  Although the climb from the lakeshore was not all that steep, the rain had made the hard impacted road slimy and even with our diff lock engaged we could not make it up the road we had come along.  The driver tried hard but the smell of oil and the strained noises from the engine showed us that he was not approaching the problem the right way.  We tried to advise him on moving off gently but there was no way we could get grip.  Eventually he got out of the vehicle and reccied a route to the west.   It was a struggle but with much sliding, a couple of slip backs and plenty of back seat advice, we made it to more level ground and weaved our way through the village, much to the delight of a set of soggy children who had come out to see what the noise of wheel slips was connected to.

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