An Education in Rip-Off

How quickly we learn.  We needed to wait nearly all day for a ferry trip to Tobago. Because we didn’t want to just sit around the less than comfortable pie for 5 hoursr, we went on the hunt for food downtown Port of Spain.  Two white people with packs on their backs — an easy target.  We kept our wits about us, however it didn’t stop our “friend”  Marcus from spotting us down the street.  He insisted on helping us find a place to eat, but not without our obligation of buying him lunch.  Posed as a “tourist safety man”, conversation was easy enough, with his mix of “ I must protect you” and a side of bullshit, we had the instinctive feeling Marcus wanted more from us.  Quickly after we mentioned to him we just got married, he jumped at the chance to offer us a “present.”  A  green present. We declined, while under our breath thinking of a dignified way to ditch the guy.  Our scapegoat was a coffee shop, telling Marcus we were just going to chill out for an hour or so waiting for our boat.  He said he’d be back.  We didn’t wait for his return.  Maybe he came back, maybe he didn’t.  We still aren’t sure whether his real role was a drug dealer, a scam artist, or if he was in fact a genuine guy.  We didn’t take a chance in finding out , not in a city like Port of Spain where I wouldn’t walk alone during the day.  This, unfortunately set us on edge for the remainder of our time in TnT.

In places like this, where you know crime is high, and  tourism is in the state of landslide it’s hard to know who to trust.  A guy like our “friend”  Williams, a taxi driver we hired on arrival to Tobago is a an example. He was confident  that our 15 min ride to Buocco Bay was $10USD and that every registered taxi on the island carried with them an official rate sheet for travel, that you can ask to see anytime.  We took his word for it.  Just two days later, flagging a cab on the road to back to the very spot we had come from quoted us “10”.  10 USD?  No, 10TT, which is the equivialnt of $1.50 USD.   Stupid tourists with the target on their back. Next time, we’ll ask to see the rate card.  Education is expensive.

Now, we know how much it costs from Point A to B and have learned to get in and NOT ask how much.  Just go, carry the exact change and give it to the driver and get out of the car. Simple.


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