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Not for Sale



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brother climb in. “Bon dye beni nou!” (“God bless you both!”), I called as the boat turned and headed into the setting sun.

The next morning I had a meeting with a village elder, Franco. I expressed my concern over the quantity and severity of health problems I had seen the day before.

“There’s not much we can do,” said Franco. “Our only source of water is the stream that flows through the village. We have no electricity and no doctor.”

“I’ll talk with the people at Royal Caribbean when I return, and we’ll see if they’ll help. You seem to have an AIDS problem here. Where did that come from?”

“It came from the path.”

“The path?”

“Yes, the path. I’ll show you on your way out.”

Off the trail that connects two beaches in the tourist part of Labadie is a small but well-worn footpath marked by some painted rocks. The path leads up to a small clearing in the woods that cover the mountainside behind the beach. According to Franco, it’s there that the village girls and boys wait for the tourists on Mondays and Wednesdays and sell themselves for $10 or 10 euros. Tourists interested in casual anonymous sex know about the path or find out about it shortly after their arrival. Somehow, they slip away from their spouses or partners or group; trudge up the path with their snorkel masks, sunscreen, and flippers; and enjoy the pleasures of the harbor. The stream is pretty constant, from the first disembarkation until the last whistle call. The exchange rate doesn’t seem to matter. Smart virus. Smarter than we are.



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