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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Modern Piracy: Privatization & Privilege

Trafalgar Falls, Dominica

With our goal of $50/day for EVERYTHING for the two of us combined, we just couldn’t swallow paying $120 / person – or something outrageous like that – just to get Trafalgar Falls, a lovely local waterfall in Dominica.  Ok, that was by “taxi” and if we got several folks we’d be able to split the fare at least somewhat, in theory.

Interesting stream at
Trafalgar Falls
After two days and many wild goose chases walking along in blisteringly hot and humid weather (guidebook sent us to a place that did not provide maps, which sent us to another place that did not provide trail maps short of roadmap and we gave up on the tourist office [closed for a holiday, and a weekend], when it finally was open after sever minutes without acknowledgement), we finally wended our way to a local waterfall via local commuter bus, which cost us only a buck or two each, and got us within ~C1/2 mile.

A roadside café, about a quarter mile before the falls, flagged us to sell us park pass tickets for ~$7.50 each US.  They neglected to tell us we couldn’t use the tickets to get in for another two hours.  Nor did the ticket indicate anything on days and hours, either.

“You don’t have priority tickets because you’re not on a cruise,” we were told by the Trafalgar Falls personnel.  “We can’t let you in until 1 pm.”  It was 11 am.  We were not pleased.

We did eventually get in.  And the falls were certainly pleasant enough.  But the whole experience left a bad taste in our mouth.

As for The Saintes?  We sailed in, but…


Despite quaint towns, crystal-clear water
and spectacular sunsets, went
marching on, much sooner than
if we could anchor more broadly….
We also wonder how the local
architectural design Gestapo would
react to a roof any color other than
red, say paisley or zebra stripe
or chartreuse or even just… brown?


In Guadaloupe’s Les Saintes, our guidebook noted the mooring balls, which cost ~$15 US nightly to tie up to, were optional.  Turns out, except for a few places; they were required.  Our guidebook also misled us on where to check in for customs, so by the time we found out where to check in, our options were limited in the about to descend darkness.  We discovered the whole process was being managed by a local wi-fi café guy, whose credit card machine did not accept our credit cards and he was about to close for the eve (at 4:30 – French territory businesses roll up their sidewalks early!).  The ATM he directed us to was not on.  We ended up back at the place we originally started for “their” ATM, which was out the hidden side back building ally, shimmied past the construction and dirt trail to the unmarked ATM kiosk.  By then the customs-mooring ball guy was closed for the day.  But back at our boat, he showed up, in his fancy skiff.  Hmmm, how did that little number get paid for?  Mooring ball fees, perhaps?

We spent the next night at one of the two small areas in The Saintes where you could anchor for free rather than have to pay for a mooring ball.  After two rolly eves and noticing that no one in the anchorage anchors were “biting” we moved on.

Sunset over The Saintes, Guadaloupe
It would have been nice to spend more time in The Saintes, but we didn’t want to pay too much for the privilege.  And maybe we’re not the kind of people, given our predilections, that The Saintes want.  Ditto Dominica (though we thoroughly enjoyed our Indian River tour in Portsmouth and the Jump Up in Roseau, both in Dominica).

We cast our vote, literally, from Dominica, to protest privatization and privilege in the U.S.; we hate to see it rear its ugly head abroad.