From the Editor:   Your editor first came to St. Barths in 1968, and has been a permanent resident for more than twenty years. He lives with his Franco-American family on a hillside overlooking Lorient from which he gazes fascinated by the unfolding panorama of a halcyon and unique way of life.
  February 2002
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  Harsh Reality
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    The acceptance of the Euro as legal tender seems to be proceeding gracefully here, as elsewhere, though local folk are still inclined to judge the worth of things in French Francs.
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    But the introduction of the Euro has opened a can of worms for visiting Americans.
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    For more than twenty years, I've offered the same advice to our American guests: "Upon arrival, change all your cash into French Francs, base your choice of goods and services entirely upon their desirability, and never, never mentally convert prices into dollars. Enjoy the fruits of your success, and do not diminish the pleasure of your vacation by awakening the grim suspicion that you're getting screwed."
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    Unhappily, the value of the Euro is so close to that of the dollar - one Euro currently equals nine tenths of a Dollar - that it has become painfully easy for Americans to determine what things here actually cost.
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    No longer will monopoly money or a few pretty tokens suffice for a few ounces of murky expresso:
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    Now, that quarter-cup of coffee will cost you two and a half bucks.
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    No longer will a credit card, slid across the table and returned with a meaningless receipt, settle the dinner tab:
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    Now, those three shrimp, cupful of rice and blob of ochre goo with a sprig of chive on top will set you back a resounding thirty-five smackers.
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    It's a great pity.
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    Ignorance was bliss.

    More to come,

    Peter O'Keefe


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