The pavement ends in the middle of Petite Riviere de Nippes. The road then runs west, a conglomerate of gravel and rock and dust, rutted in places by the torrential rains that sometimes drench its surface. The trip to Anse-à-Veau takes maybe 30 minutes. Road conditions make the 15ish mile trip sluggish for the cautious, an opportunity to shake one’s head or wag one’s finger at those who blow past their vehicles at 65-70 miles per hour. International Route 2 is relatively straight at this point, mounting a series of rolling hills and bridging a couple of broad rivers before reaching the turnoff for Anse-à-Veau.
It is well worth the trip from Petite Riviere or Miragoane to Anse-à-Veau. The road skirts the coastline in places, venturing inward in others to cut a path over long, rolling hills and deep river valleys. Broad, green pastures dotted with cattle and goats vanish into thickets of brush and tree, eventually reemerging, then vanishing again. All along the way there are houses, a few large, the great majority small. Many are but a single room, housing families of several people. Many of the roofs are thatched, coconut fronds sewn together to create a (mostly) drip-free shelter. The little houses are scattered haphazardly as are the people who inhabit them.
Those who do not know where to find the turn that leads to the Anse-à-Veau must watch carefully to avoid missing it altogether. No signs mark its presence. Once the right turn is made, however, it is clear that you have chosen correctly. The road to Anse-à-Veau is of smooth concrete. The dust of the gravel surface nearly vanishes. Bumps, aside from occasional intentionally constructed speed bumps, are virtually non-existent. A pleasant drive of perhaps one mile and you arrive at the town of Anse-à-Veau.
The streets of the community are neat and orderly. Although some of the buildings that line its street are collapsing under the effects of weather and time, most are in good repair and decorated with bright coats of Caribbean paint. The road turns left near the ocean, then left again. At the top of a small hill is the Cathedral of St Anne, the spiritual center of the town.
The Cathedral is a work of art, although not the towering structure of its sister structures in many developed nations, it is nonetheless at once imposing and compelling. There is the immediate sense that it is a holy place, yet it is a holy place that beckons to any who are open to its call. Inside wooden pews face the altar and pulpit. A confessional, also of polished light toned wood is situated to one side. Its tile floors are welcoming, its walls are bright, as befits a place in this part of the world. Worshippers or penitents may often be seen kneeling among the pews, a portion of their day dedicated to talking with their God.
Double doors lead to a broad porch, which in turn empties into a long flight of stairs. These lead to the street below. The streets and the people of Anse-à-Veau are friendly and welcoming. Some residents sell food or other needs from the front of their homes. Others walk by, intent on accomplishing some mission perhaps known only to them. Still others sit as though in contemplation, moving only a little, lost in their thoughts.
In Anse-à-Veau you are free to wander the streets, to stroll by the ocean, or to pray in the Cathedral. When, at last, you return along the streets that brought you to its core, you will carry memories of a beautiful place, memories that are likely to last forever.