Thursday, April 26, 2007

God bless Jack and Meg

1. Official word came down today (and Bonnie mentioned it in a previous blog post) that the White Stripes will be playing in Iqaluit on June 27 at the Arctic Winter Games Complex. Also known as the building slowly descending into the tundra because they built it in the wrong spot.

So yes, not a hoax, not a dream, not some kind of sick joke by Jack and Meg, the White Stripes are actually going to play here. I found their release interesting, actually, in that they committed to playing in provinces, territories and states they've never played before. It's a pity more bands don't make that same kind of commitment. Not that I expect many would come here. You can't get bands to go to Newfoundland because they complain about the cost. I can only imagine the cost the band is going to experience playing here.

Still, how cool is that? And the fact that the tickets might only be $40 is astounding. I can barely buy a loaf of bread and a 2L of milk for $40. I would have bet money on them being more than $100 each. They should be going on sale perhaps as early as next week. They say about 500 tickets are going up for sale and despite the mocking I read on some site about how nobody other than polar bears would be going, the tickets are going to disappear fast. There's still 7,000 people in Iqaluit and they aren't all going to fit in that stadium...

2. With the good news comes the less than good news. Got a notice today informing me of a rent increase. And I had just been thinking the other day that I hadn't heard anything. Bollocks. Anyway, the rent is going up $105 to about $930 a month. For those thinking about coming here and gagging a bit on that price, keep in mind two other factors. A. We live in a very small apartment. B. Our rent is subsidized. Well, it is until 2010, when the government ends subsidizes for employees in Iqaluit.

Still, it's cheaper than the place we had in the 6-story. Oh yeah, also cleaner and quieter. We're not complaining...much. It's still an extra $100 a month. Let's not pretend that doesn't hurt.

And no, we're still not thinking about buying a house. I still can't get my mind around $350,000 for a home where we wouldn't own the land. Sorry.

3. I've always admired Roger Ebert tremendously. This only makes me admire him more. Obviously he's not about to get back on television any time soon. I'll be astonished if he's back this year. But I do hope he gets enough strength back to start writing again on a regular basis. I miss it.

4, This story has been making the rounds. It's also been discussed on a couple of blogs. I've commented on one of the blogs already, but I'll just reiterate the point here. I really do feel sorry for them. They were put into a stressful, unexpected situation where they felt threatened. I know I would have been freaked out. I don't know if I would have handled things much better than they did. And I admire their courage in coming forward and talking about what happened to them and warning others to be careful.

However, the first thing I thought of when I heard this story (and it was making the rounds before the media reported it) was "Why didn't they contact their embassy?" Yes, there was a lot happening and a lot of pressure. But by god I would make sure in some way, shape, form or manner, I was getting to speak to someone from my embassy. Or someone was going to call the embassy for me.

Maybe they did try although the resort manager is denying it (and saying other unpleasant things), I don't know. However, it does serve as a nice reminder for both myself and Cathy. We plan on doing a considerable amount of traveling over the next three years or so. Note to selves – make sure we have the number for the local embassy or consulate when traveling in case there is trouble.


Helmut said...

Thanks for the link on Roger. He's brave and fierce. I have great respect and wish him a full recovery.

As for the Dominican story, your instincts are correct, there's something just not jiving here.

You're right: Why did the Sinnotts quickly jump a plane and go home instead of going to the Santo Domingo embassy after their ordeal?

But that's not all I find unusual.

First let me say I am trying to sympathize with the couple. But when I saw them on CBC the other night, a number of things stood out and I'm surprised more people aren't curious about this.

Why did the other 40 people who traveled with this couple not speak up, pick up, and defend them? By her own admission, Dawn Sinnott screamed bloody murder at the resort. What the hell happened?

Why did the Sinnotts willingly get into a nondescript white van/truck with everyone at the resort -- presumably many Canadians and other non-locals -- watching?

Why did the rest of the wedding party, their friends and family, STAY after such a tragic and unsettling event? I'm sorry, but I ain't getting married in a place that has such a horrible memory for me. Wedding's off. I'm going home with my cousins. Now.

Most importantly: "Why would the Dominican people spit in the face of their number one economy: Tourism and the service industry? No longer seen as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, the DR almost completely relies on revenues from American and Canadian visitors. Why would their officials want this kind of negative scrutiny?

I've had conversations with a couple of worldly types about this, and there is presently a lot of doubt. Travel agents are baffled by the story and a few I spoke with don't believe it. It's too bad, because if this couple were detained in this way, they need our support.

But there is a growing feeling that we're only hearing one side of the story. And that this couple were asked to leave.

Edward G. Hollett said...

On the Dr story:

They were both in their swim suits, surrounded by a bunch of angry men and one of the key players in the whole affair was apparently the hotel manager.

It occurred on their first day in the DR. They hadn't even slept in their beds. I can see people heading off to a foreign country and naively getting caught up in something.

As soon as the cash changed hands the manager ordered them out of the hotel. That's their version of it.

The family stayed because they would have had to pay upwards of 1500 bucks per head to get out early. There was a wedding (which they were all attending) and leaving that would have obviously entailed losing considerable cash.

On the face of it, my usually skeptical nature doesn't cut in here.

If you check the US Gov notices on the DR you will see some references to recent scams in which tourists have been robbed (if not beaten and robbed - my memory is failing on that detail) by people who are either police or who pose as police or local military complete with uniforms.

As for travel agents doubting the story, I dare say some would have doubted Canadians would get murdered in mexico either.

Helmut said...

"...leaving that would have obviously entailed losing considerable cash."

These people feared for their lives. They say they were threatened and locked up BY THE HOTEL STAFF.

But you'd stay and go on with the wedding because you paid for it?

There is always the threat of theft, extortion and murder in third world countries. Tourists should always be on their toes. But muggings, scams and impersonation of police officials usually happens off the resort, outside the secure areas and in the cities. This is the first time I've heard about a case where the people on the resort, the management in fact, were involved in the scam. It's possible of course. Indeed, perhaps this is simply a case where the hotel manager is a crook. But it's rare and quite troubling. When you go to the Caribbean, you're generally told that you are safe as long as you stick to the resort.

If resort staff begin dabbling in crime, I expect that trips to these places will decline.

towniebastard said...

It raises my suspicion levels a touch, I confess, but I am inclined to believe the Sinnotts. I am more inclined to take their word over a resort manager who at the very least faces being fired if this becomes a big enough racket, and possible jail time if the DR decided it needs someone to take the fall to make thee tourists feel better.

And I'm sorry, how much money to travel agents make off DR tourists? Of course they're going to try and put a positive spin on it, especially since I image Mexico is no longer a booming travel spot, what with all the dead Canadians.

My point is, this serves as an excellent reminder to be familiar with your embassy location and phone number in case of trouble. The more I think on this, the more convinced I am this doesn't nearly as far if the embassy, or the threat of the embassy, is brought up early in the argument.

I will say this one last thing, boy it would be nice to get a hold of some of the other people travelling with the Sinnotts on that vacation to get their take on things. Perhaps some enterprising journalist in town can try and track down a witness or two...

Dale Kirby said...

re: DR

Anyone know which resort this occurred at?

That'd be nice to know.

Helmut said...

True, true. We should give the Sinnotts the benefit of the doubt. I just get the feeling there is much more to the story. Not that the Sinnotts deserved this and are at fault, just that we are missing some compelling information. And I would like to know what that is before I ever consider going to the DR. Time will tell.

Dale, the resort is called "Sunscape The Beach" in Punta Cana.

There's some info on it here:

Kara and Matt said...

You lucky bugger. I cannot believe the stripes are actually going to play there. They are playing in Yellowknife too. However I will be about 5 days away from giving birth to our wee-spawn and will be down in Edmonton! I am so jealous.

Anonymous said...

TB, for your own good, don't put much faith in the embassy folks, they have a reputation for really not giving a fuck about Canadians.

Several examples: when Mayher Arar was being tortured in Syria there was a guy from the embassy/consulate that was picking up info from the Syrians and passing it on to...I think it was RCMP.

William Sampson was held and tortured in Saudi Arabia for bootlegging which he wasn't committing, he stopped speaking to the folks from the embassy because he said it was doing more harm than good (they thought Sampson was guilty too, despite the fact the crimes he was accused of continued when he was in jail).

These are high-profile cases, but being the opposite of helpful is something Canadian E/Cs are known for.

Unless you get really lucky with particularly good embassy staff, when you travel you're on your own.

Oh, and scams played by robbers on tourists is not limited to underdeveloped countries. Apparently in Europe you shouldn't stop to help someone who appears to have a flat tire/car trouble.


Anonymous said...

It is wise that before you pass judgement on something to hear both sides of the story.

If they felt threatened, why not go to the embassy and have them deal with the situation. Any EDUCATED individual would know this is the thing to do, especially if you are in another country. The thing is, if you are guilty, it is better to wait until you get home and then make a claim staing only things to your advantage praying the Hotel does not have the whole situation on TAPE.

I understand the ordeal did not happen as reported. They were handled with respect and nicely to be frank. If it had happened elsewhere, they would not be alive to tell it. They are lucky the person they stole from and his frends are educated law abiding professionals. Do not think you can go ahead and steal someones belongings and think you can just get away with it because u feel superior to those around you. Laws are laws everywhere you go. And in most countries, stealing is against the law. Lets wait until the investigation is over and you all will find out the real story.

Anonymous said...

They were both VERY drunk. She Its a long story, but in short, they took a guys cell phone and sunglasses. That is what they paid for. It would be very stupid to have something like this happen in broad daylight inside the resort and the Hotel not do something about protecting the guests *if the gests are not actually guilty* There were many witnesses and the truth will surface as it always does.