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Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

nyc
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Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

I traveled to this country last year during the second week of August expecting to have a great time on a lovely island paradise. I had friends who were medical students living and studying in Bassetere and I went for a week's visit.

As soon as I stepped off the airplane, I was subject to a humiliating search for no reason, even though I had exited the international boundary. Airport staff at the security checkpoint at the exit poked around my underwear and squished the foods which I had brought from the U.S. into inedible mush.

During my stay at my friend's house in Bassetere, I met many Americans and Canadian students. They all informed me that they had bad experiences with local police who failed to protect the public from crime and harassed foreigners. They told me that the hospitals were where people went to die and that there was not even any food for suffering patients.

On or about August 14, I returned to the airport in Bassetere to catch an early flight to St. Maarten at or about 7 a.m. A man at the security checkpoint at the entrance of the terminal into the international area stopped me. He forced me to empty the contents of my bag and picked out my bottles of liquids, which were 3-oz. and under, in a see-thru plastic bag. He dumped the contents out violently and everything dropped to the floor. He opened every single vial of my liquids, including my contact solution, medication, hairspray, etc. He shouted at me.

As an American, I was unable to understand the words which he spoke, due to his heavily accented English and the fact that he was shouting at me. When I asked him to repeat himself because I did not understand, he threw my belongings into the trash and pointed to the store across from the metal detectors.

I eventually realized that he wanted me to buy a plastic bag from his friend who worked in the store, even though my liquids were already in a proper plastic bag in accordance to international travel regulations. He did this on purpose to harass me.

I have heard many similar stories from others who traveled to St. Kitts. I was shocked to hear that the government is trying to move toward a tourism economy, because there is no way I would ever go to your country again.

In sum, I had a terrible experience in this country because of the treatment of airport security. It was horrible and I would urge any American to refrain from visiting this country. The airport is the first impression and last memory of any place one visits, and the feeling that your airport staff gives travelers is that they encountered nothing but a corrupted, third-world land where there are no rights.

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Portland, OR
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1. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

Interesting post. Sounds like you based your opinion of a place entirely on what happened at the airport. Did you enjoy your visit? Did you find the island beautful?

I have been very poorly treated in many airports in the USA and that doesn't affect how I feel about the city that those airports are in.

nyc
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2. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

i guess i did focus too much on the airport. i had a great time only bc i visited my buddies, especially when they took me to cockleshell beach with the famous pig who sleeps all day and eats ketchup. however, i thought it was pretty boring otherwise. if not for having such great people to visit, there is not much to do. i was very, very dissatisfied with the beach, bc the water is mostly dark brownish blue and the sands are yellow/brown. however the waters are calm and good for snorkeling -- i did see a gorgeous seaturtle. also, i have to point out that everything is really expensive and in short supply. there is no industry here: there aren't many farm laborers, no manufacturing, everything is imported. EVEN ALL THEIR SEAFOOD IS IMPORTED here!!! thus, it is not exactly a simple island, but just a place where the finances and economy is... curiously managed. ti am baffled by how they were able to get world-heritage-status on their fort, which i was totally not impressed with. (in sum, for a vacation, it is much more worthwhile to visit the bahamas, jamaica, or dominican republic, where depending on where you go, you can find rich history for sightseeing, learning, and entertainment, in addition to great hospitality & wonderful pristine beaches where you can still get away for a real quiet relaxing time.)

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

Sorry to hear that the airport experience left you rattled. I am surprised with your take on Brimstone Hill, as it is quite well preserved and the views are spectacular. The history has a fascinating connection to your own US history, so it is too bad that it didn't impress. The island hasn't fully transitioned from being a sugar-cane producing nation to whatever it is evolving into. The former sugar cane fields that have been left to devolve have left the lanscape looking much different and somewhat abandoned in places. It is very much a nation in transition, but still a very lush, beautiful island. And the people are for the most part, friendly and gracious. Hopefully, at some point in the future there will be more attention paid to agriculture and sustainable development.

The fact that it is a volcanic island naturally ensures that the beaches are dark and not powdery, sugary white. The same volcanic rock and sand, as well as the depth of the sea makes the water a darker blue than what you will find on coral islands. Still the beaches are not without their own charm. St. Kitts and Nevis are generally a lot quieter that some of the more "developed" tourist hot-spots, but there is a lot to do if you are into exploring the rain forest, zip-lining, scuba diving, sailing on the catamarans, deep-sea fishing, visiting restored plantation homes and inns, and enjoying the natural beauty. But you are right, it is not Jamaica or the DR. There are plenty of places to find fresh seafood, but yes, much of the food, like on so many of the smaller Caribbean islands, is imported. This is not unique to St. Kitts. It's too bad the airport personnel are not yet trained in the sort of customer service that tourists come to expect when they visit "sea and sun" destinations. Though, in truth, this type of experience is reported at any number of destinations. I was treated like that about 5 years ago in Miami. Did I fly through Miami again? Yes. Will I go there for a vacation? Perhaps. No excuse, but it does seem to happen from time to time.

Edited: 01 February 2011, 03:29
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4. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

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Removed on: 17 February 2011, 11:59
Edited: 17 February 2011, 11:59
st. kitts
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5. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

BTW, I've had fresh mahi mahi and lobster here, so not all seafood is imported.

Edited: 01 February 2011, 16:08
Sandy Hook...
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6. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

Wow, nothing to do in St. Kitts. Really? We just returned from a 10-day trip -- our first -- and are planning another because we didn't do everything we wanted, there wasn't enough time.

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Montreal
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7. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

Brimstone Hill is amazing...it's a feat of engineering and construction. You can spot it from the air and at sea. I am not a great history or war buff but even I could appreciate this impressive site. It speaks of appalling ignorance that you were "totally not impressed". That's sad.

Miami, Florida
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8. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

First impressions carry a lot of weight as far as I am concerned. I live in Miami and I know Miami International Airport very well. You see I was born and raised here and have lived here all my life. It is a first class airport with highly trained employees. That said, yes you can have a bad experience anywhere, especially if you do not adhere to the rules. But I doubt that you would be harassed just to make you buy a plastic bag or other toiletries in Miami. I have traveled to other countries where they try to confiscate your items on purpose just so that you will have to spend money to replenish them. Mexico is notorious for this. It is each countries responsibility to ensure a safe and friendly atmosphere if they want continued success in the tourism industry. I will be visiting St Kitts shortly and I am sure I will enjoy my stay there tremendously, because I have been to nearly every caribbean island out there and have yet to be dissatisfied. But, I am easy and laid back. Most tourist save all year to go on vacation and they expect more for their hard earned cash and all the islands have similar beaches and pretty water and similar activities to do, so what is going to make the difference on which island gets that tourist's cash is "hospitality" period. I don't need to travel to St Kitts in order to go sailing, snorkeling or to jet-ski, I can do that in my backyard. I feel for the people in St Kitts trying to cope with the changing economy, it is really rough all over without losing an entire industry such as the sugar industry. Times change though, and one must adapt or fade away. Tourism is very profitable, a few bad experiences can cause an economic back lash quickly. Miami is as strong as ever in popularity, but has struggled in the past with bad press that lingers on in the minds of people world-wide, sometimes decades after the incident. Wish nothing but the best for the people of St Kitts... see ya soon!

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Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

If there are days when airport personnel are strict about carry-on liquids, non-permitted items and the dimensions of zip-locks, is generally due to your own USA homeland security directives. Planes, especially those that are going to US airspace are subject to scrutiny and TSA regulations that have made travel difficult, but safe in our post-911 world.

I have always had pretty good experiences in the Caribbean on that score. Nobody has ever taken away my stuff just to send me to buy it locally. And I travel with plenty of carry-on, so they have lots to work with if they wish.

But as a non-US citizen, I beg to differ with you on what it is like to travel through MIA. Because, actually, it WAS in Miami where my carry-on was rummaged through, and my zip-lock confiscated. Furthermore, when I reached home in YYZ, I discovered that my checked luggage had been opened and completely rifled through. I am quite certain that they checked every single item, b/c I am a meticulous packer, with a system. They folded and packed my things in a completely different way. To be fair, they left the "note" on top indicating their "visit" and whoever re-packed the bag did a nice job.

I think if you are disembarking in MIA as your home destination, you have no idea what it's like for non-Amercans to transfer through or depart from your US hubs. And yes, I did have to go buy TSA-regulation style stuff and find the right size zip-lock, right there in the MIA airport. The staff may be well-trained, but they certain had their "bad manner" caps on that day. There's more, but I won't get into it here. I have been to MIA a few times in my life. I don't remember this airport being so chaotic prior to 911. Transferring through Atlanta was a much more efficient and pleasant experience. Not chaotic at all. And staff with stereotypical southern good manners. They still had to do their jobs, but with lots of "please" and "thank-you" 's and "have a good flight, ma'am" 's, rather than hostile looks and barking orders. I say all this as a mid-aged female, who frequently travels solo ... and who minds her manners when she travels.

Don't be so quick to judge other destinations, unless you have experienced what it is like to be "the other" on your own home turf.

Edited: 16 February 2011, 14:14
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Toronto
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10. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

I was rather confused by the overall post made by the OP. Also, as I am terribly suspicious I was also stunned by the difference in writing style between the first post "on or about" - very legal formal manner but also confusing as I cant understand with only week in St.Kitts and a set flight to St.Martin how are you unsure of the day of travel...but then the second post - the response made by the OP - an absolute flip in presentation..grammar, spelling...

I love TA but sometimes I find it frustrating when others come to share their "experiences" about an island. This would be one of the posts that I would disregard..I hope others do too.

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