Tag Archives: tourism

Why Mallorca isn’t my favorite place in Spain

Diversity doesn’t necessarily mean tolerance. I spent a week with friends on this big Island in the Balearic sea. Mallorca is a mix of ethnicities and they aren’t all treated the same. Natives speak Mallorquí.  So even if you are Spanish, but from another part of the Peninsula you will always be treated as a foreigner, unless you learn the native language. During summer months when Mallorca swells with tourists prices double. This makes it very hard for locals who earn lower wages than northern Europeans to afford rising prices. Northern Europeans can also more easily afford exclusive properties driving up real estate prices. Spaniards complain about finding places to rent because property owners would rather have holiday homes that bring in more money

What really bothers me, however is the treatment and exploitation of refugees, and by extension all persons of color. I have a friend from Nevada who lives here teaching English. Her ancestry is Caribean. Because she is darker skinned many people treat her like a refugee, which is quite poorly. Many of the Nigerian women are coerced into prostitution. So if my friend goes out at night alone even dressed extremely conservatively she will have Spanish men pulling over in their cars offering to pay her for sex. This makes me really angry for my friend, but even angrier at the treatment of African refugees. It makes me sick to see others exploit vulnerable people who need the most help. It’s not like refugees want to leave behind their homes and families. Their dark skin makes it difficult for them to blend into Spain’s paler population thus making them even more visible targets.


My friend has trouble finding extra work as an English Tudor because people don’t want to learn English from someone who is of her color. Meanwhile many whites teachers have an abundance of  students.
I am not sure if this is the situation all over Spain. It makes me feel queasy inside to know I am receiving better treatment than others. For that reason I can’t see myself coming back to Mallorca anytime in the foreseeable future.

The dark side of Airbnb

There is a dark side to Airbnb that no one talks about. Airbnb is a modern reinvention of of ancient custom. In ancient times hotels didn’t exist. In the middle east traveler’s would wait in public squares to see if anyone invited them into their home for the night.
Airbnb has many pluses. It cuts lodging costs tremendously, especially in exclusive tourist areas. It’s a great way for homeowners to earn extra money. And it connects like minded souls reviving the age old tradition of hospitality.
What could the downside be you ask? Well, Airbnb raises rent prices and displaces locals. How does this happen? Homeowners prefer to rent their homes to holiday makers for far more money then a local could pay in monthly rent. This creates a housing shortage for residents as more people prefer to cater to vacationers. Rent prices increase in the competitive market. As a result locals who can’t afford the increased prices are displaced and must move farther out of city centers and other prime locations causing longer commute times or in some cased complete relocation. Hotels have zoning laws and restrictions, but anyone who qualifies can list their home on the Internet. This gives perspective renters one more reason to be disgruntled with tourists who are unaware of the everyday struggles. Of course, more places to rent means more tourists and more money brought into the local community. I am currently staying with a single mother in Cadiz who is able to rent out one of her rooms. For her the extra income is greatly appreciated. For me a clean, budget friendly room enables me to travel just that much longer.
What are your thoughts on Airbnb? I would love to hear your comments in the section below.

Why Visiting Bristish Colombia is a Must

Bushart Gardens, BC
Bushart Gardens, BC

The People.

Yes, I know it sounds cliche, but Canada has exceptionally polite citizens. You can engage almost anyone who speaks English in polite conversation. British Columbia has the friendliest customs agents (WA State Border Patrol Excluded) they were fast, efficient, even apologetic. I remember once flying back into the USA I thought I had accidentally broken the law and was gonna get arrested just because one customs officer was having a bad day.

Maui is wonderful and for the most part the aloha runs free, but being a haole on the “valley isle” comes with a certain amount of “stink eye” as my friends call it. Vancouver on the other hand is extremely ethnically diverse. Everywhere you walk your ears are bombarded with different accents and dialects. It fosters an air of acceptance and anonymity. I hate feeling like I stick out. My only complaint is a complement of sorts, for a big city everyone stares and talks to you. I had one homeless man tell me I had a million dollar smile. On another occasion a Jamaican Jazz player stopped mid song to tell me I was gorgeous and deserved a rich white man. It took me a while to adjust to this, but if you embrace it, everyone has fantastic ideas for where to stay, what to see, and where to eat.

Canada’s amazing tourist bureau runs specials in late October that include low fares and cheap hotels. I’m an extremely cautious traveler. The best part about solo female travel to Vancouver is that you feel safe, it fosters such a relaxing environment, I felt free to wander around its many parks and downtown areas, pumpkin spice latte in hand. I would highly recommend it for anyone needing a few days to get away. The “solitude” was the much needed recharge that I was seeking.

Grouse Mountain, BC
Grouse Mountain, BC

 

West Maui & Molokai Helicopter Tour

Molokai Sea Cliffs
Molokai Sea Cliffs

Air Maui Helicopter Tours
Trying to decide if it’s worth the money to do a heli tour of Maui? Hopefully this weeks blog will aid you in that final decision.

Why I choose Air Maui. First off they had 4.5 star customer review, which is pretty good. Second, and more importantly, Air Maui is the only helicopter tour with a perfect safety record. Yep, you got that right, the other lines have had fatal crashes. Air Maui helicopters are smaller with 4 people in the back and 2 in front besides the pilot. Other larger helicopters carriers boast more windows but, a lot more people are crammed in. Some of the online reviews complained about limited visibility in the third row and middle seat.

Air Maui Helicopter Tour
Air Maui Helicopter Tour

The customer service at Air Maui was excellent. When I called to ask about Kamaaina discount the staff was super friendly. I was informed that the cheapest place to buy tickets was Costco for 199 p.p. The 45 minute West Maui Molokini tour normally runs for 253.
There is a 250 lb weight limit p.p. If you are over the limit they charge you for an extra ticket. My brother is super tall. When I called about his weight they were accommodating and said since I was under the limit he could have my extra pounds for no extra charge.

West Maui Coast
West Maui Coast

Another Air Maui plus was that they upgraded us from the 45 minute West Maui & Molokai tour to the 60 minute flight (retail 322.00) for no extra charge, since they had two unfilled seats on their early morning flight. This was 122.00 savings x 2.

There are multiple Maui tours to choose from including Hana & Haleakala, complete island tour, and West Maui & Molokai. I picked West Maui & Molokai because many parts of West Maui’s deep valleys and craggy ridges are almost inaccessible otherwise . The frequent rainfall produces dramatic waterfalls. Molokai’s renowned sea cliffs are some of the highest in the world.

Molokai
Molokai

The helicopter lifts off to the soundtrack from Hawaii Five-O. It was cheesy, but I couldn’t stop smiling. We headed to a valley by Waiehu, where the Jurassic Park theme song kicked on. After gawking at the many cascading falls we glided along the West Maui coast. It was awesome to see from the air places I often hike. We crossed the Pailolo Channel then went on to Molokai’s cliffs and one of the world’s highest waterfalls. We saw the famous leper colony from afar. Molokai boasts a fantastic reef that flashes Caribbean colors. From there we headed back across the channel and over Lahaina to see an isolated area of West Maui and Iao Valley before returning to the airport. Good views of sugarcane fields and Haleakala can be spotted during landing.

West Maui
West Maui

Janette our pilot was both informative and personable. She even remembered our names.
The Air Maui Helicopter tour was by far the best thing I’ve done on Maui so far. If you have the money I would highly recommend it. The only think that might top, it is a whale watch tour if you’ve never done one before. For animal lovers that’s a must.

My only complaint was the yellow life jackets they make you wear about your waist. It reflected in the window of the helicopter and marred some of my photos. Make sure to wear dark colors that don’t reflect on helicopter windows. Also I wouldn’t recommend eating a big breakfast if you easily suffer from motion sickness.

Tip: Air Maui advertises single seat specials for only 100.00

Molokai
Molokai