[slideshow]Resting in the courtyard after the long, hard horseback ride. From L to R – Earl DeMoe, Bob Low, Warren Kay, author, Ray Dillon and a guide. Photo by Dillon
We had breakfast at six and left immediately by car for Milot, a town about seven miles from Cap Haitien. From here we took horses to King Christophe’s “Citadel,” which is on a mountaintop 3000 feet above the sea.
The nag under me was so small that if I stood up he could have walked out from under me. He was also a three-gaited animal – slow, slower, and stop. I fell off within the first ten minutes as we rounded a curve. I had a helluva (sic) time trying to keep my balance. The past was narrow and windy. In places it was paved to some extent and my “Equipoise” slipped once with me flying over his head.
The trip consumed an hour and a half. Three of the boy walked while ten rode. The walkers won the race, but we had more fun.
The Citadel, one of the mariner’s sights along the coast, is built of solid brick. It was never quite completed, but fifteen years were consumed (1804-1819). Some of the walls are six feet thick. The turrets for the 360 big guns are amazing. The cannon could be pointed in any direction and either lowered or raised. Everything was brought up by maw or horse power. Carrying those guns up the mountainside five and a half miles must have been a terrific undertaking.
The old buzzard killed himself with a golden bullet when his people refused to bring food to him, and is buried in the courtyard. The place is now used as a prison.
The ride down was wonderful now that it is all over. The colored boy (sic) who kept following me, I couldn’t quite figure whether I got him with the horse or if the horse came with out him, kept poking “Bobby” with a stick and I was afraid that Lightning would start galloping down the hill, but instead he seemed to go in reverse.
This afternoon we went aboard the destroyer USS Simpson and were invited to the movies on board.
This evening Charley, Clint, Bob Low, Bunny and I went in search of voodoos. We hired a taxi and guide for $2 and visited three places.
It was really not voodooing that we saw, but it was close to it. The dance is held outdoors under a thatched-roof structure which had no sides. Candles are suspended from the ceiling and the whole atmosphere is very strange. Three drummers beat out the weirdest rhythm I have ever heard, swing included, and the men and women fling themselves about in wild gyrations.
Around the outside are little booths attended by toothy hags where you can buy liquid candy and spirits. As soon as the natives discover outsiders, the head drummer and his assistant keep pointing their sticks in your direction and that is the signal for you to chip in a little. But for the few cents you pay the show is really good.
- November 1939 Haiti Citadel parapet (photo by Dillon)
The Citadel in Haiti