The next day, with an even earlier start, and the very unceremonious drop off at the finish, gave me the impression that they just wanted to be rid of me and headed back home (and when I was able to get at my phone to look at my GPS I found that they’d dropped me off a village early; only an extra 25 miles for me but still a major dick move). Their expectation for a large tip was in direct odds with how the boss man, who arranged the rather expensive trip and explained the details, had stated “It is included.”
It should be expected that a certain percentage above the quoted price will always be required; I call it the “scammer adjustment.” In Cuba it was even worse, with EVERYBODY scamming for every little cent: from the little girl selling ice cream and gave too little change back to the cute little abuela at the market who charged 20 times the actual price. It’s not like the money spent is really an issue, but it is the principal of being cheated by everyone that really gets under my skin.
Regardless, I was delivered to some bungalows where I would spend the night before the final leg to Morondava. My guides, after three days of paddling down river, have five days of polling upriver to make it home; they’ve got several bottles of the water that I had bought for myself, plus a big bag of Skittles I gave them, and their tip, and even without that they’ll be fine.
Whatever. I’ve got a cold beer and I’m sitting in the shade of a big baobab tree. The people here are friendly and they are being genuine. The teenage son of the family here earnestly tries to learn more English and Spanish. Across the street a soccer game is going on. It’s all good!