Mara Juffer & Erica Van Soelen describe their adventures to the Citadel. 

Bonjou from Haiti!

Our second full day was filled with laughter and new adventures that we will always remember.

We started our day early, embarking on the long journey to the Citadel. The ride was an exciting one, as we drove through rivers and deep potholes. After about an hour, we stopped in a town called DonDon for breakfast. The women there were more than happy to sell us eggs, bananas, fresh peanuts, bread, and bags of water. We were very grateful for this meal that nourished us before our long day.

Drive through breakfast on the way to the Citadel

The next hour we were being coated with dust so thick we changed color, but we didn’t notice because we were laughing and waving along with the people we passed.

Our first destination was a palace built for a self-proclaimed ruler, King Christophe. Sadly, this beautiful piece of architecture has been damaged by earthquakes throughout the years, but still stands proud for us to admire. As we toured the ruins, we learned about the great history of the king and his palace while taking in the breathtaking scenery.

After taking in all the sites of the palace, we climbed in the trucks and headed further up the mountain toward the Citadel. The steep terrain proved to be too much for one of our trucks, causing it to break down. Our trip took a pause as all of the team members loaded into one truck. Slowly but surely, we made our way to a tourist information center, a checkpoint before our hike. The many vendors were very eager to share their names and sell their goods with us. Some of us were better at bargaining than others.

Winding through the mountain to the Citadel

Then we began the long, steep hike up to the Citadel. Haitian men brought horses up with us and offered rides. Natalie Montgomery, one of our senior teammates, accepted their offers and rode a horse all the way to the top of the mountain. The rest of us trudged along, stopping for water breaks along the way. Half of our group broke off from the paved rode and took a shortcut through the brush and rocks. Finally, after one final upward stretch, we arrived at the base of the Citadel. Relieved to be finished hiking, we stood back and admired the great fortress before us.

Long trek up the path Beatris our cook had been to the Citadel as a child and today was her second time

As we walked through the many corridors and rooms filled with cannons, our guide explained the history of this impressive structure. We enjoyed views of the landscape, including the town of DonDon where we had eaten breakfast. Lunch consisted of PB & J sandwiches, which we consumed while sitting on cannons, not the most common of dinner tables. The whole experience was a blast.

Is this a view or what

View of the ocean from the top of the CItadel The Citadel

With a collective sigh, we started back down the hill, hoping that the trip would be less tiring than the way up. Luckily, we made it down with no major issues. At the bottom of the hill we were greeted by a mob of vendors who were very enthusiastic about selling to us, even if we told them no. After giving in and purchasing a few items, we climbed in the trucks and left.


On the way back to the compound, we experienced more car trouble. More specifically, two flat tires. The trip back was still great due to interaction with locals and truck races.

Flat tire-twice Flat tire repair along the road Worship time followed by a rose, a thorn, and a bud

Once again, we are grateful for your prayers of support and protection. We have been blessed with safety and have begun to feel at home here. Bondye beni ou. God bless you.