Tag Archive: scams

The Dominican Papaya Milkshake Scam—and How to Avoid It

Me enjoying papaya shake

I haven’t been feeling well lately, and it’s not just because I’m back in New Jersey’s crappy cold weather after enjoying wonderful 80-degree weather in the Dominican Republic. There’s something far more serious going on with me. See, while I was away, I became addicted to the DR’s truly perfect papaya milkshakes, known as “batida…

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Trap or Treat? 4 Tour Guide ‘Trickniques’ & Solutions

Avoid common tour guide 'trickniques' and enjoy a real treat instead...

“Hello, my friends. I’m going to take you to ____________ and later to the cheapest place to shop, a great restaurant, etc. And please–no tips–unless you really want to.”

You’re heard it before and so have I.

And if you’re an independent/low-budget traveler, you probably try to avoid taking tours–unless absolutely necessary. Chances are–you get by with your Lonely Planet guide or the rental of the audio guide, depending on where you are. Or you use your smart phone or some other device to read about the place while your visiting it.

To Go–or Not to Go–With a Guide
But at some point, like me, you might opt to use a guide. Maybe it’s too tricky to get to a…

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Chicky Bus–The Ultimate Chicken Bus Adventure (conclusion)

Chicken Bus Epiphanies.....Cheesy smugglers, a Guatemalan marriage proposal and more misadventures--all part of the one and only Chicky Bus Story.

Checking things out
I stood to the side of the bus, waiting for the pre-border officials to check things out. They came off the bus carrying the large garbage bag I’d spotted, which appeared heavy judging from how they carried it. One of the men pulled a knife out his pocket and cut a slit in the bag and then reached in.

The suspense, meanwhile, was killing me and Krista. What illegal substance or product would someone have hidden inside a garbage bag? And why hide it in a garbage bag in the first place? I got as close to the officials as I could and eavesdropped as stealthily as possible.

“Hay queso al dentro,” the taller official said. There’s cheese inside.

I almost laughed, but didn’t. It was a serious moment, judging from the looks on the officials’ faces.

“This is silly,” I said, in Spanish, to the heavyset man/fellow passenger, who was wearing the Goofy t-shirt. “I can’t imagine why it would be illegal to cross the border with cheese!”

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Chicky Bus–The Ultimate Chicken Bus Adventure (pt 1)

Back of chicken bus

Part 1

“I’m so glad we went for the better bus. How about you?” I asked Krista, relieved that we wouldn’t be on a chicken bus for our 8-hour ride to San Miguel, El Salvador.

“Absolutely. I’m sure it was worth the extra money we spent,” she said, sipping her café con leche and finishing her breakfast at the Café de la Revolución in Leon, Nicaragua, where we’d just spent the night.

The taxi pulled up, and we crammed our bags into the trunk and got inside with two other travelers. Minutes later, we were at the bus station, a place that appeared and felt chaotic to us but made sense to those who were part of the system. There were no signs or any indication of which bus was going where and when—just small signs in the front window of each bus, with the name of the destination. The challenge? Figuring out if the bus was coming or going.

“There’s your bus,” the taxi driver said, looking pleased that he’d spotted it so quickly in the madness of a busy weekday.

“That’s it?” I asked, incredulously. “It doesn’t look like it looked in the brochure back at the travel agency.” It was yellow and looked like an old school bus. (Note: It probably was one.)

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