Watch out for the "diab"

12 October 2009 - by Carole Devillers

From speaking with locals, it seems each cave is inhabited by a “diab”, creole for spirit (not to be confused with devil) and everyone makes sure we’re aware of the danger. An older peasant refused to accompany us to a particular cave because, he said, the spirit of the cave would eat him. He specified it would not eat Olivier, but it would eat the guide.

Walking the countryside with our Haitian party

Nevertheless, curiosity got the better of him and he followed our party to see what would happen.

On our way to the cave, we could hear vodou drums beating nearby as a ceremony was taking place. When we got to the cave of Nan Banbou, Olivier tied a long rope to climb down the dark and steep cavity and our old man stayed respectfully at a distance.

Nan Banbou cave opening

After the rope slacked off, he was sure Olivier had been eaten by the “diab”. An hour elapsed and no sign of Olivier. “ - Olivier!... Olivier!...” shouted one of our porters waiting at the small aperture and getting worried. No response. After some time we saw the rope tightening up again and a while later a muddy Olivier resurfaced.

Olivier resurfaces at Nan Banbou

Our Haitian party gave sighs of relief. Emboldened by the fact that the diab had not eaten anyone, our man offered to take us to explore a cave in his own field. But it started to rain so we appropriately took a raincheck!