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Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

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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.

Coral Gables...
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51. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

Oh my, ting. I don't think I ever wrote that there weren't any lovely and warm Cuban people. I find your post confusingly contradictory, you mention that you travel to experience different cultures. That's right: different. Cultures are not identical. How boring that would be! Yet you complain when I point out a cultural difference. I wonder that during your travels you have not noticed that not everyone is identical to Americans. For instance, in some Latin American countries a woman who smiles at a strange man and greets him with an effusive, "hello" will not be viewed positively by locals but the same behavior will be perceived as just being friendly by Americans. Most people posting on these forums aren't the type of traveler who behaves boorishly when they travel and expect everything and everyone to be as it is when at home and complains when it isn't as for the very virtue they are here they are researching and trying to learn-- educating themselves about their destination. Platitudes about "one will be treated as one behaves" are unecessary. I am glad you have had positive experiences when traveling through MIA though many have not but it seems you know MIA better than the locals who travel through it on a regular basis.

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52. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

I can only base what I say on my personal experience in Miami and elsewhere. Not pretending to be a local by any means.

I may have been confused by your earlier post, but I took it to mean that a person has to live in the U.S. or England for a generation or so to absorb "our" manners in order to be good service employee. If I read that wrong, I apologize for not understanding what you wrote.

And, since I never go around saying effusive hellos to men I don't know, I've got that one covered.

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53. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

just starting to look at islands for winter vacation..must admit this post had an impact...not the airport stuff but others that just "did not feel safe" ...it was not just one person and the concept of having people pose with monkeys in diapers...well not sure who looks worse there...the locals making money or the tourists doing it?

Ottawa, Canada
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54. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

I spent a week in St Kitts two years in a row twenty years ago, and then visited for a day a year ago. What I noticed about Kittitians every time was that they didn't seem to smile when, or as much as, I expected them to. It made me think about smiling, and why people give or expect smiles, and I've concluded it's likely learned behavior, and it is probably different from place to place. St Kitts is an island, and even though we're all so connected nowadays, likely it has its own social norms - for instance when, how much, and how often people smile.

But think about it. If you expected a smile and you didn't get one, wouldn't you possibly conclude that the person was distant and unfriendly? When maybe in fact, their local manners might be that smiling in that situation would be rude or overly-familiar. Maybe the Kittitians see me as insincere because I smile at complete strangers. Maybe they think I'm disrespectful because I smile when they are conducting official business. Or maybe they don't really even register it consciously, but get the feeling that I (and my fellow countrymen) are some kind of dangerously-grinning fools. LOL!

I'm actually quite grateful to St Kitts for teaching me this lesson - not to assume that because people don't have the same unconscious habits I have means what I think it means. What if the official who told the OP the plastic bags weren't okay had flashed a big, genuine-looking smile, and apologetically suggested she could get the right ones over there? Would it have been okay with her then?

I think Kittitian culture is relatively reserved, and smiles are not used there the way they are used elsewhere. Does that make the Kittians unfriendly? Not in my experience. It makes them different, and that's why I travel, so I can see how people and places are different from my own.

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55. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

Leroy...nice post and thought provoking. Should probably be in some book about travel and what it is really about. Thank you.

56. Re: Got better treatment in war-stricken countries

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