Local Vendors

Old Nov 14th, 2005, 08:55 AM
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Local Vendors

There are so many posts here about not wanting to be "harassed" by local vendors.

This is probably my grumpy Monday morning post, but think about this for a minute.

How many here make their living in sales and marketing ? How many times have we all been annoyed by the telemarketing calls ? How many of us have sold Girl Scout cookies or candy for worthy causes ? And the list of examples goes on.

Why is it different for someone living in the Caribbean and trying to make a living, than it is for anyone, anywhere ?

There is always that polite, "no thank you", or perhaps the thought that you might be able to contribute, in some small way, by making a purchase.

Take a walk in any major US city and you will be approached JUST for money.

The vendors who "harass" are offering you a product, most of them made through their own labor. If we are lucky enough to visit, we should think about all the residents and what their lives are like.

Just something to think about...I hope.

Marion







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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 10:07 AM
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Good point Marion!


Christie
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 10:08 AM
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Marion,

This is always an interesting topic.

For the most part, I think people who are bothered by vendors in the Caribbean are people who have not done much travel to the region before and don't realize what life is actually like for the majority of people who live there.

They've been looking at the glossy brochures that show empty beaches and smiling locals bearing rum punches on their heads while they do the limbo.

They don't know about the double-digit unemployment on some islands, the poverty, the dependence on tourism, the difficulties and the hardships that many local populations deal with every day.

People who HAVE traveled to the region and ventured outside the whitewashed walls of their AI's or resorts have a better understanding of what you are trying to convey Marion.

They buy YET ANOTHER head-bobbing turtle or yarn bracelet in Mexico, or a coconut-shell purse or Rasta-colored earrings or a pareo, etc. etc. etc. they KNOW they will never wear when they get home because they are spreading that wealth around a little bit. (Not to mention meeting some absolutely fantastic people along the way.)

And then again, there are always going to be those who want their vacation to be perfect and stress-free.

A small percentage of people will actually be so elitist and obnoxious that they truly believe they should be "left alone" to enjoy their vacation in Disneyesque splendor. (Never mind that they are in ANOTHER COUNTRY!

I guess it all boils down to an individual's exposure to and compassion for the situation.

Just my .02 ;>
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 10:18 AM
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Diana,
I learned of some of the "hardships" that people were having on my recent trip to St John.One girl that I talked to said that it was tough finding a job (in Sept.)because it was slow season and people were having to let people go because it was too slow.I felt sorry for her because she was stressed out on how she was going to pay rent and eat..so I gave her some money.

Another guy was let go because of someone who stirred up trouble who had just moved to St John and that guy got the guy who was let goes job.

Alot of the true locals were having a hard time finding a job because of people moving there and taking the jobs.I found it very sad and can understand the frustration they must feel.

Christie
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 10:26 AM
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As a counterpoint, soliciting like that is illegal and strongly enforced in the Cayman Islands... there are no street vendors and you will never be approached on the beach by a vendor.

Just something to factor into your vacation considerations !
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 10:36 AM
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Diana,

Your 2 cents is always worth at least a dollar or a 100

I live in a *tourist* town and see the attitude of my *fellow US citizens* when they visit here. They think we couldn't survive without their tourist dollars...and many leave their manners and courtesy at home.

My point, if there was one ;-), was to think about what happens *here* and what seems to be unacceptable once we are *there*.

We are guests in another country and should be gracious and economically supportive to our hosts. And our hosts are not the hotel owners, but rather the locals who welcome us with broad smiles to their home. The ones, who make our beds, prepare and serve our food and drinks and ask us to look at some items they have for sale. It's really a simple concept, it might just need a little re-thinking

Marion


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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 11:17 AM
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Christie, What you have described about the (mostly) Americans taking all the jobs is the main reason we did not care for St John and won't go back.

Islands which are not US territories/protectorates almost always have controls in place to keep that from happening.

(You can see my rant re this in my 2003 BVI's/USVI's trip report.)

Really sad situation there...

Tom, Way to shamelessly plug the island where you have business interests at the expense of a region-wide (EXCEPT for the Cayman's, of course) issue.

Thanks Marion! I grew up in a tourist town (beach) too, and the behavior of some of the visitors was truly amazing.

I always try to talk to as many people (both tourists and locals) as possible when traveling. If you are candid and receptive, it's amazing what people will share with you about their impressions of the behaviors of fellow travelers.

Americans have a (largely-deserved) rep for being ethnocentric and thoughtless visitors abroad. (In our defense, I've also seen people of MANY nationalities behave obnoxiously over-seas.)

Your point that people are guests in another land is absolutely correct. I've found that it's normally the locals with manners which far surpass those of the vacationers.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 11:48 AM
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I think the reason why the no vendors on the beach thing is such an issue for some people is b/c many people live in suburbs and exurbs. In those types of environments, it is much more homogeneous and encountering poverty, especially soliciting, is rare. I live in a suburb which has a pretty good average income. Many people that live in a place like that don't want to go on vacation and deal with things that they don't have to deal with at home. For many, it's depressing and disconcerting.

People picture their vacations as completely stress free and the vendors don't fit in with that notion.

I personally don't mind vendors at all, and would love to go to a place like Jamaica. My husband, however, has made it clear that he does not want to deal with that on a beach vacation.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 12:10 PM
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Mah,

I certainly respect your husband's wishes and those of others who prefer to be isolated from reality while on vacation. We all walk in different shoes and certainly have the right to a *comfort zone*.

I just *needed* to go on record for those who might be persuaded to think differently.

If you miss out on interaction with locals, whether vendors or resort staff, you've missed a lot, IMHO.

PEACE...and hope you are recovering from Katrina. Your city, suburbs and exburbs continue to be in my prayers and in my ongoing donations. It's going to be a long recovery and I hope we don't forget that.

Marion
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 12:34 PM
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Thanks Marion. My husband has a different comfort zone b/c he didn't travel as much as a child as I did. He really didn't get into travelling that much until we started dating. Now he loves it as much as I do.

I wish I could convince him to go to Jamaica. After you wrote about the Jamaica Inn I went on their website and was blown away. I also looked on tripadvisor and they are one of the top hotels in the whole country. Did you do a package deal with food, or did you elect to do lodging only?

I'm trying to figure out where we're going to visit next. There are so many places that I want to go so it's hard to narrow it down. We are going to buy a new home in Sept./Oct. so we'll probably go somewhere right after that. I'd like to keep it on a budget b/c I want to buy some new furniture. Do you have any suggestions? I love the idea of somewhere that we could look at waterfalls and do ziplines.

New Orleans is getting back slowly. Traffic is so bad, and there are so many people from Mississippi in the Northshore suburbs. We had a great time this weekend b/c there was the Three Rivers Art Festival in downtown Covington with artists from across the world. Things like that help make life seem normal. I'm planning a surprise weekend trip to the Dunleith Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi for December. I've never been to Natchez, although I've heard it's wonderful at Christmas time.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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Interesting thread.

I for one, have never felt "bothered" or threatened by local vendors trying to sell their goods or services. On occaision, we have purchased a few small items here & there. If you are not interested, a simple "no thank you" usually works, but not all of the time. There were a few vendors in St Lucia that were very pushy. Upon trying a "no thank you" a few of them grew angry, and started spouting off with crude language. So on the other side of the fence, I can see where some folks feel threatened or annoyed.

I also am not about to spend money on something I really don't want. I understand about trying to help a few folks out by contributing to the local economy. But after spending thousands on accomodations & food, I find it hard to feel guilty because I choose not to buy a $2 trinket.

I think Diana hit the nail on the head, by saying that it really depends how much traveling you've done. For someone who has never experienced being approached by a stranger trying to sell something, it's easy to see why they might be uncomfortable.

It all boils down to treating others politely. If you are rude, chances are good that you'll get the same back in return, and rightfully so, as you probably deserve it. Go out of your way to be friendly, and the return favor is likely....no matter where you are. Well, except maybe Massachusetts....LOL....I know, I live here!!
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 01:57 PM
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Mah,

Sounds like you have some wonderful Christmas plans ! I often think that New England is over-rated, and remember fondly the wonderful traditions in "Steel Magnolias". OK...I just plain loved the movie..Miss Merry Christmas and all

As far as Jamaica Inn, or any other Jamaican destination, I'd give it some time. You can only roll a stone up a mountain for a certain distance And I'd hate to see you plan a wonderful trip and then worry every second. Been there, done that.

Maybe consider Nevis ? Lots of options, in all price ranges.

I'll be there in February and will report. I know you do lots of research, but first hand is a good thing.

Take care and look forward to the holiday season !

Marion
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 02:31 PM
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Ahh, Marion. Time and again you've proved you're a woman after my own heart. I checked online this morning and there was not much new of interest. Checking back in before dinner I now see that I've missed out on this lovely discussion.

I am very thankful that I have many children in my life who love the bobbing head turtles and bead necklaces and allegedly hand-carved sculptures that bear trademarks on the bottom. Most of the time I've enjoyed my interactions with the varied vendors I've met and they have certainly made my vacations more colorful.

I find myself getting more easily frustrated with Caribbean newbies who worry about "safety issues" and "Vendors" in the same breath. It seems amusing at best and offensive at worst.

Diana, I hope you enjoyed your Grenadines trip. I'd love to read about it if and when you have the time to put something together.

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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 02:49 PM
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Yes ej, taking the time to speak with the vendors is priceless. I'm not a very *crafty* person, so I am easily impressed with the talent of those who are.

My house is filled with reminders of my travels, and if some are *kitchy*, all the better. All have a story of a local artisan. How lucky am I, to have these treasures and to have had the conversations with the artists

Yup....lucky !

Marion
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 03:20 PM
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Our store in St. John was looking for help in September & got no applicants. We've had ads in the paper for a few weeks now on St. Thomas & only 1 applicant.

When I was Asst. Manager at what is now Marriott's Frenchman's Reef, the then General Manager could not for the life of him get management hired from the local populace. No business owner in his right might would want to pay moving & travel expenses to bring in off-islanders. It's improved somewhat but at the hotel, nobody wanted to BE managers except for a small percentage.

The choice jobs here are for the government which is the largest employer by far. Why? Tons of holidays, vacation, etc. Jobs in the tourism-related fields which is the next highest employer mean no holidays off. When I started at the hotel it was a 6 day work week which OFTEN stretched into 7 plus double shifts. I have not had a Christmas or Thanksgiving off in 23 years. At the hotel, the hourly workers were protected by unions. We managers just worked our behinds off.

I have a right to be here. I earn my keep & this is a US territory. Beach vendors here aren't REAL plentiful unlike some of the poorer islands. I've never seen one hassle somebody who just said "No, thanks." I hope I never do. I also pay US taxes on every nickel I earn.

And all it takes to get a work permit in Sint Maarten is knowing whom to bribe. I suspect that's pretty common in a lot of places. The BVI is pretty strict.

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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 03:27 PM
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I should clarify about not being able to recruit management from the local populace. That has improved in the last 10 years. Before, their coworkers gave them a really hard time if they got promoted & made it difficult enough that most didn't want to.

Also, now there's a 5 day work week (for the most part) but still, forget about holidays off.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 03:39 PM
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Excellent post Marion. Brings to mind that Rosemary Clooney song from White Christmas "Counting Your Blessings"
Much is what you have been exposed to or willing to be exposed to that makes the difference in attitude.

Diana, how was the Grenadines trip. !8 more days til SVG for me!

Sandy
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 03:41 PM
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Diana,
I did make it a point to buy souveniers(sp?) from the locals in Cruz Bay park while in St John.They had some really nice things that were handmade..I bought my sons necklaces that a guy handmade.I bought a bracelet for myself that is made of beads and shells and also is handmade.I did go in some of the shops but decided to buy from the locals who handmade there stuff.It had more feeling knowing that someone "handmade" it rather than had it shipped in and marked up the price.

Mah,
My husband is the same as yours..he had not traveled that much until we got married.He has been back and forth about going to Jamaica..I hope to talk him into going oneday or I will have to go with someone else maybe my mom.

Christie
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 03:49 PM
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Oh Sandy,

Your Rosemary Clooney reference did make me smile

I think it is about attitude, an open heart and acceptance of things outside our narrow world. If we don't want to learn, why would we travel ?

Pollyanna..I mean Marion
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 04:03 PM
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Marion,
I agree..I am one who travels to learn about other ways of life..but not everyone does.Some people travel with the 'ugly american' attitude that gives us who want to learn...a bad name.

Christie
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