DM going on holiday to Haiti... AIBU to think she has a death wish?

(92 Posts)
Cantwejustsaywhatwemean Wed 08-Jan-14 20:39:59

Apparently there are Air bnbs there... Oh well that makes it ok then! She was supposed to be booking a much needed break to see my DB in the USA but has announced she also plans to go to Haiti for a few days with a similar aged friend (70+). She's not an intrepid traveller and has a habit of 'adopting' people she thinks need her help then taking ages to extricate herself from situations that end up making her feel I'll. she's not in great health but loves to be a bit different and crazy. I am pretty sure Haiti is the most dangerous country on earth. AIBU to worry? NC'd obviously although I think even this title may out me... Anyone else been on holiday to Haiti or have a 70+ year old relative who has?

MM5 Sun 12-Jan-14 05:11:46

I think the no insurance problem is the bigger issue!

70+ travel insurance is very expensive. I helped my father recently get insurance for a two week trip to sttes and it nearly cost as much as the holiday!

He didn't want to get it at first. I reminded him, should anything happen to him while away, that I had NO money to sort it out! God forbid if it was a death, what was I going to do?

This was his wake up call and he got the insurance. In the end, he did need it for something minor. However, thatminor thing well made up for the cost of the insurance!

As far as Haiti, not my choice of holiday destinations. My parents always seemed to be holidaying and trouble followed them. It was their lives and decisions. The whole living life to the fullest.

rightsaidfrederick Sun 12-Jan-14 03:38:24

Bloody hell - just seen the bit about armed guards. You don't even need that in Kurdistan FFS

rightsaidfrederick Sun 12-Jan-14 03:35:52

Might be one of those places where certain parts are fine, others aren't. If she's going with a friend who knows the area, then chances are she'll be fine, as they'll know where to go / where not to go, and be able to act as an intermediary with the locals.

For what it's worth, there are even part of Iraq that are safe enough to go to - I know a couple of people who have backpacked through Kurdistan, lived to tell the tale, and spoken highly of the experience. Similarly, you can go to North Korea (on an organised tour only) and so long as you don't do anything very silly like taking photos of politically sensitive things or acting as a missionary or journalist, you're fine.

No insurance is, however, as always, utterly bonkers - and I say this as someone who harbours ambitions to visit North Korea, so I'm not exactly timid about these things.

BewitchedBotheredandBewildered Sun 12-Jan-14 01:02:23

A quick google says if you broke your leg in Menorca, had 10 days in hospital, and were then flown back to the UK it would cost £25,000.
That was in 2009.

Cantwejustsaywhatwemean Sat 11-Jan-14 20:51:43

Sorry, other dramas overtook me the past couple of days and I haven't been checking this thread. Have since had a chat with DM who admitted her friend had had to hire armed guards to escort her everywhere!!!!! Give me strength. I think she is having second thoughts as she has gone very non-committal on me, either that or she still wants to go and is lying through her teeth ( not unknown behaviour). Either way I have a battle to fight with John Lewis about a fridge now and so have decided to step back. I don't know how much repatriation will cost. My sister has suggested we just leave her there...

NigellasDealer Sat 11-Jan-14 17:51:18

sorry OP have you got any idea how much it costs to repatriate?

IndridCold Sat 11-Jan-14 17:25:20

Channel 4 news yesterday had a report on the cholera epidemic in Haiti, report here.

Your DM will DEFINITELY need a jab against cholera before visiting - or even better, avoid it completely!

Oldraver Sat 11-Jan-14 17:17:01

You say you would repatriate her if she fell ill, could you afford to ?

flamby Sat 11-Jan-14 16:11:59

Any chance you could persuade her to look for a compromise? E.g. fly into the Dominican Republic and stay in an AirBnB there and then travel overland to Haiti (I think there are tourist buses) if she wants to. That would give her the chance to hear from local people and get some advice and if she takes the bus into Haiti and hates it (it might shock her how poor it is), she'll know she can turn around and come back somewhere more tourist-friendly and with more infrastructure.

My mum's book group read a novel called "In the Time of the Butterflies" about the DR and loved it - maybe you could recommend it and see if you can get her interested in going there? Flights are easier to the DR anyway and they also have charter flights from the DR to the UK for the way home.

ScarlettInSpace Sat 11-Jan-14 11:35:58

Could she mean Tahiti? I always thought they were the same place blush

MrsSquirrel Sat 11-Jan-14 11:21:43

grin olgaga maybe she is really going to Little Haiti in Miami.

olgaga Sat 11-Jan-14 00:32:04

I doubt she's going to Haiti.

My MIL, on a trip to visit family in California, sent us a card saying how much she'd enjoyed a short break in Santiago.

We were a bit puzzled and rang BIL - but it turned out they'd had a weekend in San Diego.

XiCi Fri 10-Jan-14 23:27:09

If my 70yr old DM announced she was going to visit Haiti I would seriously think she had lost her mind. Have you actually spoken to her about what to expect out there?

VworpVworp Fri 10-Jan-14 23:11:50

There's an infographic in one of the newspapers today (may be the C4 website actually) that shows Haiti in last 3 years had almost all the cases of cholera in the world- worldwide cases of cholera (2010,11,12) 375, cases in Haiti- 357

Quite scary really.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Thu 09-Jan-14 23:08:41

I don't think the OP is wrong to worry. My dad recently spent several months as a missionary in Kenya. This is a safe part of Africa and he had local support. Even so, he had his laptop stolen, was ripped off by a local con artist with a sob story and saw a local man beaten to death on the street.
He has 20 years on the OPs DM and has travelled before.
Haiti is not a 'safe' place, the DM will have no insurance, no vaccinations and none of the recommended local connections. There is travelling safely to somewhere risky and there is being foolhardy. DM is being foolhardy. Yes, she is a grownup, but the OP will be the one picking up the pieces If when things go wrong.

UncleT Thu 09-Jan-14 22:45:56

HyvaPaiva - I'm alarmed that you think that is the extent of the FCO's travel advice for Haiti. That is the headline summary.

Here's the more pertinent bit about safety and security (there are multiple sections of advice for each country), directly from the gov.uk site:

"Crime levels are high and the general security situation is unpredictable. You should seek advice from local contacts or established organisations and make arrangements for your security throughout your stay in Haiti. The presence of one or more travelling companions with reliable local knowledge can help deter any unwelcome attention and also provide support in an emergency. It is best to avoid travelling around Haiti alone.

Avoid displaying expensive items of jewellery or carrying large sums of money. Don’t leave property in vehicles and always travel with car doors locked and windows up. Park close to any venues you visit and where possible avoid leaving a venue alone. Avoid travelling at night. Extra care should be taken when visiting downtown Port au Prince."

And it goes on like that. Now, while it might not be Somalia, how is that not of concern for a traveler who is naive enough to think that they don't even need insurance??

I love travel, and I am generally in the 'life's too short' crew. But, there's taking calculated, informed risks, and then there's simply being completely unprepared. I would suggest, unfortunately, that she's the latter.

specialsubject Thu 09-Jan-14 21:11:40

travel insurance is available at any age.

then let her go, you are protected once she is insured. Just get someone to check she's got the policy right.

Devondarling Thu 09-Jan-14 14:28:04

Really, so unless you manage to get out and about in your earlier life you should stick to places like Florida? Which by the way can be just as dangerous.

One of the lovely women from my village has just traveled a thousand miles through africa, over land with her sister, both in their 60s, neither of them had been in a plane before the trip, they did a bit of volunteering and lots of research, had a brilliant time, they mainly followed their noses, and met only kindness, both had had a life time of children and then grandchildren, the first chance they got, they took it, they also had a lot of disapproval from family, all of which were thinking of their own take on the situation, and quite a few cat bum faces when predictions of rape and death failed to happen.

of course it is arrogant not to insure or have vaccinations,

just ask her to do those for your peace of mind if nothing else,

There are plenty of volunteer works going on in Haiti, and schools, so if she googles and sends a few emails, she will find lots of support.

Limiting your life by fear, is really damaging. You only get one, not doing what you want would be a real wasted opportunity.

Cantwejustsaywhatwemean Thu 09-Jan-14 14:25:18

My DB has advised me to stop worrying about it which I think I should do... As you all say, she is her own person and can do what she wants! Love the sound of the adventurous dad above, sounds like he grabs life with both hands and enjoys it. What more could you ask for?

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 09-Jan-14 14:06:14

Agree, if OPs mum was like your Dad, no problem and I think Haiti is a great destination for adventurous/experienced types. But she sounds v far from it. However, she can and should do what she wants, however she really should be insured. She should also ideally have the local support you mentioned fixed up in advance, rather than hooking up with first shyster who greets her off the plane and there'll be plenty of those.

struggling100 Thu 09-Jan-14 13:40:06

Devondarling - your dad sounds AWESOME! I hope I'm like that in my 70s.

But the OP did say that her Mum wasn't a very seasoned traveller and (reading between the lines), she sounds a bit naive (the 'adopting people' thing). So she's perhaps not as intrepid or aware as your father.

I do agree that bad things can happen anywhere, but I'm not sure that's an argument for not trying to side-step problems if someone isn't a very experienced traveller and might possibly walk straight into problems.

And another shock at the lack of insurance/vaccines. That really is basic stuff.

Devondarling Thu 09-Jan-14 12:45:51

If that's what she wants to do, that's what she wants to do, if not now, when?

She is an adult, it's entirely up to her, by all means make her take out insurance, you can always do it for her if it bothers you.

My father is in his 70s, climbs mountains in remote countries, has just finished a back pack around south America, is on his way to the Antarctic, He plans to walk across south Georgia, he is a fan of Shackleton, and has a few sea birds left to tick off, he was knocked off his bike by a hit and run car, a few weeks before he left(his helmet saved his life), had to have a couple of operations, he still went, they (step mum) have had a great time in south America, as they always do, in places which people fling their hands up in shock, and say you will be murdered.

on the way to airport in this country, his friend had a flat tire, while he was changing it, they had their laptops and her handbag stolen from the car,

Shit happens here just as much.

When I am in a place that requires local nouse, I send a letter in advance to the local language school, asking if there is anyone who would like to have conversation in exchange for guidance around the local area, and ask them to put a note on their board,

I always pay for all meals and travel, and have found it a brilliant way to get a really good feel for a place,

I have made some life long friends this way, and experienced places in a way tourists never do,

I trained as a documentary photographer so tend to be carrying a lot of crucial expensive equipment, yet have never had a single problem, because I go in with local support.

Name changed for this as it outs me, but I do find it strange when children try to control their parents, at what point are they permitted to live their lives the way they want.

My mother died (cancer) when I was young, but it never made me try to control my remaining parent, he is behaving no differently to when my siblings and I were children, if we were children no doubt we would be walking across south Georgia with him.

She has told you what she wants to do, find ways of supporting it, not sabotaging for your own benefit.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 09-Jan-14 12:08:13

Have looked at the b and bs now.

They're either in Port au Prince (nothing to do, except sit inside b and b) or in Petionville, which is the posh suburb (ditto).

Or in Jacmel and Cap, which are seaside towns but NOT resorts, though much nicer than P au P. But unless she flies directly to Cap, travelling there would involve a day in a taxi/horrible broken-down bus on dire roads in both directions.

Haiti's not got beautiful scenery, it's suffered shocking deforestation.

V interested to see how this turns out.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 09-Jan-14 11:34:34

I've been to Haiti a few times. I love it for many reasons - mainly cultural, but it's not at ALL touristy and if your mother is as you describe I simply can't see the appeal. There are no beaches, no real sights of interest and you can't really walk around Port au Prince, it's too hot and the roads are appalling, pot holes everywhere, raw sewage running through streets. There's nothing to visit except dilapidated buildings and some appalling slums (these in areas FO warns against).

Main danger- she might get pickpocketed, but I can't imagine she'd want to go out much once she's realised there's nothing to see. Will she sit in the b&b all day? In short, she will probably be fine, but she'll be wasting her time and money.

That aside, the issue here seems much more to do with your mother having a later-life crisis. If you can't stop her going, then take out insurance on her behalf. Please.

kmc1111 Thu 09-Jan-14 11:02:55

She shouldn't be going ANYWHERE without insurance and up to date vaccinations, but Haiti is really not that bad. It's a poor country with a lot of issues, but it's not a hellhole, there's culture, people are friendly and hospitable, it's very vibrant...I've enjoyed my visits a lot. Haiti wouldn't even make my list of 'high risk' travel destinations tbh, there are major American cities I'd consider much more dangerous, and as for most dangerous country on earth, well, Somalia, Columbia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the State of Palestine would beg to differ.

It's not really a touristy place (as in tours and souvenirs and all that), but lots of travellers iykwim. It's dangerous in areas, but I've visited Port au Prince multiple times and while yes, it's certainly dodgy, there are parts of London that are similarly dangerous. An awful lot of the crime is bored teenage boys/young men doing stupid things, just like anywhere else. There's bag snatchers and the like, but you'll get the same all over Europe. Two days ago a guy tried to sneak my phone out of my pocket on the tube...it happens everywhere. I found it much, much worse in Brazil, and foreign tourists still flock to Carnivale. Some health issues, but for a visitor who isn't living like a local, vaccinations and only drinking bottled water would be enough.

But anyway I wouldn't be worried about her going to Haiti, I'd be worried about her leaving the house if she's as hopeless as you say. Sounds like she could put herself in plenty of risky situations everyday here at home if she's really so clueless.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now