Sacred Waterfall/Sau d'Eau

Photography in Haiti by Justin Williams

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Sodo is the popular name for an annual pilgrimage to the Haitian village of Bonheur ("Happiness"), and its adjacent waterfalls, Saut d'Eau. At this mountainous site, sixty pot-holed and corkscrewed miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince, the Miracle Virgin ("Vierj Mirak") is honoured each 17 July, feast day for Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She is said to have manifested herself there in the nineteenth century, and during the American military occupation from 1915-33. According to local tradition, the first sighting took place on 16 July 1841. A man named Fortune, searching for a lost horse, came to a palm grove. He looked up and saw a beautiful woman in a palm tree. Soon afterward, pilgrimages to the site began. Every year since Fortune's vision, 20,000 or so pilgrims each year have set out by foot, donkey, or rickety public transport for Bonheur. Their immediate focus is the church built to commemorate his apparition. Roiling crowds of pilgrims now lend Sodo the look and feel of a Caribbean Brighton on a summer weekend. Ecstatics, beggars, vendors, nuns, gamblers, penitents, hookers, army officers, journalists, anthropologists...here is God's plenty in Haiti. They have come with many purposesto seek a cure, fulfill a vow, pick a pocket, escape the city heat, eat fresh fruit, take a cool bath. Bonheur wishes all its pilgrims well.

Donald Cosentino, article "Gifts from a cool goddess ." La Rampa, Vol. I No. 1 Haiti Cherie p. 78.

Justin Williams, photography "Vodou." La Rampa, Vol I No. 1 Haiti Cherie p. 76.