Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Break 2012: The Top Hot Destinations You Should Not Miss

1. South Beach, Miami: My best friend and I are planning on hitting South Beach, Miami. Every year, South Beach is usually packed with college students and tourists from all over the world. Once again, you can be sure to expect to see a lot of Brazilians, South Americans and Europeans on the beach. For the South Americans, South Beach is their second home. This is their backyard playground. Consider how the Brazilian economy has been growing, Brazilians, Peruvians, and Chileans will be in South Beach in trove. All these Spring Breakers will get spread all the way to Daytona or Miami Beach. You will also see quite a group of people heading to Fort Lauderdale.

2. Panama City, Florida: Panama City is also a hot US destination for Spring Break students and vacationers. Panama City has a lot of attractions for all of them. If you want to explore, then Panama City is for you. Some of the attractions you can visit are: The Shipwreck Island Water Park, Gulf World Marine Park, the Emerald Coasts Mirror Maze. At night, you can stop by Club la Vela, one of the largest nightclubs in the U.S. Also, dress appropriately when you are heading to the Gulf of Mexico, a 27-mile expanse of sandy beach. Wear a wind breaker when you are going there. In both cities, you will find great restaurants to eat at. You will find lots of activities to participate in. If you are a people gazer, then head to the beach. Head to Key West, the MargaritaVille. Always go with a friend and drink with modesty!

3. South Padre Island, Texas: The good news is that despite the high costs of other places, Texas offers you huge opportunities to have fun at a low cost. Texas is not very expensive. It is affordable. In Texas, most students will converge on Corpus Christi and South Padre Island. What do you expect to see? Hundreds of miles of white sandy beach and all kinds of water sports you can participate in. If you want to dig in, you can do that too. But if you want to travel around the island, you will borrow some scooters.

4. If you want to go to Mexico, then, here are the top destination sites: Acapulco, Guerrero Mexico, Cancun, Mexico, and Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico: Word of caution: Familiarize yourself with the travel news from the State Department. Be aware that Mexico has been fighting a drug war with the various cartels. So be careful while you are having fun down there. Those hot destinations are often policed. Stay in a group. Do not venture out while under the influence!

If you are a diver or you like watching divers, then head to Acapulco. You will see many divers plunging into the shallow waters of the Pacific. Ah, for sure, Cancun remains the top Mexican destination for spring breakers. Cancun offers lots of fun to your family too. Take a ferry to Cozumel, a bus to Playa del Carmen. Visit Bonanza Rach if you like riding horses through the jungle. Visit the Mayan cities by heading to Coba Ruins.

Puerto Vallarta is Mexico's best beachside city. It attracts visitors from around the world thanks to its gorgeous beaches, great weather, art shows and cultural scene. You can go mountain biking, parasailing or stay put to just party with all the fun-loving people.

Other places you can go to: Europe, Jamaica and the Bahamas, Surinam, Paramaribo etc.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

American Springbreakers, Texas College Students and Parents Warned to Stay Away From Acapulco, Cancun due to Violence

Texas Depart of Public Safety has just issued a warning to parents and spring breakers against traveling to Mexico after reviewing the level of insecurity that reigns over some parts of the country. While the drug-related killings may have taken place far from the famous hotels and beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, and Cancun, the perceptions of the whole country suffer. If students have to stay away from the fun, sun, turquoise waters and sea of friends mingling on the beach, they can find alternatives right on the US mainland or on other safer shores.

Here is a list of some of the hottest spring break destinations on US soil and other countries including Jamaica, Canada and elsewhere. This list will be updated. Check back for more!

Get more hot Spring Break Destinations reviews right here!

Hot Spring Break Destinations That Most People Do Not Know About

1. Orland Florida

2. Montreal, Quebec, Canada

3. Panama City Beach, Fla

4. Miami, Fla

5. San Diego, CA

6. South Padres Island, Texas

7. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

8. Montego, Jamaica

9. Cancun, Mexico

10. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

American and European SpringBreakers Stay Away From Acapulco, Mexico: 2011 Turns Out to be a Bad Year For Aca

This is 2011. The Mexican tourism industry is doing everything to lure tourists, specially foreign springbreakers to the famously popular beaches of Acapulco. After all, Acapulco has long been associated with the great bods of Hollywood and countless American, Canadian, and European springbreak revelers.
Who does not remember the wild stories of spring break at Acapulco, Mexico?

Yet, this year, despite all the efforts by Mexican tourism authorities, the famous hotel grounds and beaches are mostly empty. If it was not for Mexican local tourists, Acapulco would not see much business. The main reasons most people are citing are the fact the economy has been in recession. Secondly, they are also saying that they do not feel comfortable going to Acapulco this year especially after the drug-related murders and decapitation that occurred in Mexico. Yet, many insiders will tell you that these deaths have nothing to do with the famous beaches and hotel chains. Only those who are associated with the drug carter have something to fear. Despite all the travel warnings issued by the U.S. and other foreign governments about Mexico, a large group of Acapulco lovers who have been vacationing there for years decide to brave all the negative perceptions and news.

Once they get to Acapulco, they realize that they can have the best service from the staff. They are free to roam all over in very uncrowded areas. The young springbreakers are not there to create issues. But despite this new feeling, they miss these kids. What is SpringBreak without the behaviors issues shown on the beach and in hotel rooms trashed out until security personnel shows up. Well, it was just a few cases of having too much to drink and partying for far too long without supervision.

American college students always go back to this yearly ritual. They want to break free from parental supervision or from any adult supervision. They want to behave a la New Orleans Carnival! They want to revel, dance and party until the next day.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Spring and Summer Travel: St Lucia Quickly Becomes a Hot, Perfect Caribbean Honeymoon Destination

If you want to make the most out of your hard earned money this holiday season or if you want a not-so traveled destination, consider St Lucia in the Caribbean. This island has a lot to offer to singles, families, as well as casual travelers. And for the lovebirds, those who want to go there on honeymoon, you will find that the accommodations are to die for. The St Lucian hotel owners and resort managers are willing to work with you and find you the right package.

If you are looking for some luxury hotels and inexpensive resorts, consider the following:

All-inclusive, 5-star resort, Jade Mountain

Discovery at Marigot Bay was voted one of St Lucia's most beautiful spots. It is a 4-star resort

3-star resort Coconut Bay Beach Resport and Spa

2-star Resort The Village Inn & Spa

There are countless affordable villas for rentals. Just get out and find some good deals. If you go there the first time, you will know where you can find the good deals.

Just do like Oprah Winfrey did, visit Soufriere. You can not go to St Lucia without visiting the world-famous Diamond Waterfall. Her Magazine named a few of the must-see places in your lifetime. Soufriere is one of them.

There are other reasons why you should consider visiting St Lucia:

Magnificent, lush scenery, particularly in the south and around Soufrière, makes St. Lucia one of the Caribbean's most beautiful islands.

A popular honeymoon spot, St. Lucia is filled with romantic retreats.

Sybaritic lodging options include an all-inclusive spa resort with daily pampering on the menu, a posh dive resort sandwiched between a mountain and the beach, and two picturesque resorts optimally positioned right between the Pitons.

The St. Lucia Jazz Festival draws performers and listeners from all over the world.

The friendly St. Lucians love sharing their island and their cultural heritage with visitors.

Friday, March 04, 2011

2011 Hot Spring Break Destinations: The Boardwalk Beach Resort in Panama City, Cancun, Padre Island, Texas

Once again, the boardwalk resort in Panama City will be ground zero for all the major Spring Break parties. MTVu Spring Break will be there. And so are a lot of major artists and stars who just want to join the fun.

What's great about this year's Spring Break is that hotel managers understand the financial situation of most students. The economy is bad and they are feeling its effects. So they are willing to give great deals to students who know how to bargain. Cheap hotels remain a major attraction.

Here is a brief list of some of the hottest spring break destinations:

Acapulco, Mexico

Mazatlan, Mexico

Cancun, Mexico

Bahamas Party Cruise

Panama City Beach, FL

South Padre Island Texas

Nassau, Bahamas

Negril, Jamaica

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Violence and death are keeping tourists away from the beautiful beaches of Acapulco. Everyone hopes that the drug violence will stop so more people can visit Mexico. Even some Mexican Americans with family members still living in Mexico decide to bypass Mexico because of the senseless killings. The video below show the types of killings and deaths that are occurring there.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Free Egypt Open Again To Tourism: Young Google Executive, Wael Ghonim, Invites You To Visit Egypt's Historical Monuments as Hosni Mubarak Steps Down

Today is the day for celebrations! It is the time to sleep! No, it is such an emotional time for all freedom lovers of the world and all eyewitnesses of the Egyptian protests. The forces of the people have toppled a dictator.

It is a day to celebrate non-violence! Despite everything that Hosni Mubarack did to push the crowd to violence, they resisted to take his bait! Freedom has come back to Egypt! It is the return to democracy!

Google, Facebook, and Twitter, the power of the Internet and communication, the resilience of the young people of Egypt, the working class, the middle class and the upper class of Egypt descended on the street go against a defiant Hosni Mubarak. Every single Egyptian and many other people of the world, From Tunisia to the South of Sudan, are rejoicing in the realization of power exercised by Egyptians.

After three weeks of massive protests, the people of Egypt got what they've always wanted. They have been protesting against an autocratic government, against the bad working conditions of the working class and lack of opportunities. Despite all the defiance shown by Hosni Mubarak, he was finally forced to step down.

Celebrations are everywhere now! From Tahir Square to Wall Street, Cairo to Washington and anywhere Egyptians are living. More importantly, twitter users, Internet and blogophiles are all rejoicing over the power of the people of Egypt.

These new events follow the deposition of the Tunisian dictator in Tunisia. Now it is Egypt's turn to boot a strongman, a dictator in the person of Hosni Mubarack. These new developments come as a surprise for the few remaining dictators around the world. Ultimately, the power comes back to the people!

Today, the young people of Egypt, the children of Egypt, Old as well as young people, have reclaimed their voice. They obtain their victory and do not forget those who became martyrs for this revolution.

The Google executive who was imprisoned became a voice in this country. He came back upon his release to reignite the flames of freedom. He turned out to be a good organizer of the Tahir crowd.

Wael Ghonim, Google Executive on leave, plans to write a book about revolution 2.0. He realized that his mission has accomplished. His contribution was to only participate in the revolution. He wants to go back to his company to work. He stated that he accomplished his role. Wael Ghonim does not want all the attention to be on him. He is thinking about the martyrs and future of his country.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Nelson Mandela Invites You To Travel to South Africa and Enjoy The Beauty of His Country

Message from Nelson Mandela { "I believe that South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased, but when you combine the natural beauty of South Africa with the friendliness and cultural diversity of our people, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa's most splendid wildlife, then I think even the most scrupulous critic would agree that we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land. I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to come and see for yourself the splendour of South Africa. I know that my people will be delighted to welcome you and I think you will be enchanted by their warmth and hospitality. I am equally sure that you will enjoy our culture, our cuisine and the warmth of our people." } Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, 1994-1999

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Brasil Wants to Grow Civet Coffee Which is the New Gold Standard in Coffee in Indonesia and Philippine

With Civet Coffee claiming hight prices in places such as Japan and south Korea, more and more people want to get into the business mostly made possible for this cat-like nocturnal animal called the Civet. Eating the ripest coffee beans which end up being digested through its natural acids, the civet enjoys these nightly forages and its droppings or dung are now prized in the coffee world export.

Brasil which is one of the main producers of Coffee in Latin America wants to start producing civet coffee for export. It wants to tap into this great source of income from consumers who are willing to pay top prices. Coffee connoisseurs have justly remarked that the civet coffee has created a gold rush in these two Asian coffee producers. Now it is time to differentiate between the real deal or the real mccoy.

How did the phenomenon get started? It got started mostly in the Cordillera region of the Philippines and the rest of Asia where this elusive, nocturnal animal is present.

"Costing hundreds of dollars a pound, these beans are found in the droppings of the civet, a nocturnal, furry, long-tailed catlike animal that prowls Southeast Asia’s coffee-growing lands for the tastiest, ripest coffee cherries. The civet eventually excretes the hard, indigestible innards of the fruit — essentially, incipient coffee beans — though only after they have been fermented in the animal’s stomach acids and enzymes to produce a brew described as smooth, chocolaty and devoid of any bitter aftertaste.

As connoisseurs in the United States, Europe and East Asia have discovered civet coffee in recent years, growing demand is fueling a gold rush in the Philippines and Indonesia, the countries with the largest civet populations. Harvesters are scouring forest floors in the Philippines, where civet coffee has emerged as a new business. In Indonesia, where the coffee has a long history, enterprising individuals are capturing civets and setting up minifarms, often in their backyards.....

Read the rest of the article at (

Volcanic Ash Causes European Airports Cancellations From UK 's Heathrow, France's Charles de Gaulle to Russia and Denmark

U.K.: All airspace closed until at least 0000 GMT (8 p.m. EDT Sunday).

Ireland: All airspace closed until at least 1200 GMT (8 a.m. EDT) Monday.

France: Closures have been extended to the southern half of the country. Northern airports are closed until 0600 GMT (2 a.m. EDT) Monday.

Germany: All airspace closed until 1800 GMT (2 p.m. EDT) Sunday.

Austria: Airports closed until at least 0000 GMT (8 p.m. EDT Sunday). Overflights above 12,000 meters (39,000 feet) are allowed.

Belgium: Belgian airspace closed until at least 1200 GMT (8 a.m. EDT) Sunday.

The Netherlands: All airspace closed until at least 1200 GMT (8 a.m. EDT) Sunday.

Switzerland: Airspace closed until at least 1200 GMT (8 a.m. EDT) Monday. Planes using instruments can fly across Switzerland as long as they stay above 36,000 feet (11,000 meters).

Italy: Airspace in northern Italy closed until 0600 GMT (2 a.m. EDT) Monday.

Spain: Twelve northern airports are closed until at least 1400 GMT (noon EDT) Sunday.

Sweden: Airspace closed except to and from the northern city of Kiruna until further notice.

Denmark: Airspace is closed until at least 0000 GMT (8 p.m. EDT Sunday).

Finland: Airspace closed until 1500 GMT (11 a.m. EDT) Monday.

Norway: Authorities have lifted air travel restrictions in most parts of central and northern Norway, including Trondheim and Tromsoe. Airspace in the very far north and south, including the capital, Oslo, remains close until further notice.

Bulgaria: Airspace closed until further notice.

Poland: Airspace closed Sunday. Overflights permitted above 20,000 feet (6,100 meters).

Czech Republic: Airspace closed until at least 1000 GMT (6 a.m. EDT) Monday.

Slovakia: Airspace closed until at least Sunday evening.

Russia: Russian airlines are canceling flights to various points in Europe, but Russian airspace remains open.

Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 Spring Break Marked by Gang Violence Shooting Death in Mexico

Drug-related gang violence has claimed the lives of two American citizens in Mexico. The shooting death comes at the wrong time for the country that is trying to move forward after last year's swine flu epidemic. The gunmen were brazen enough to shoot to death a two American citizens attached to the American consulate in Mexico. A young couple lost their lives after attending a birthday party. Their sole survivor is their young baby who was found crying in the backseat.

For sure, spring break will be affected. Mexican tourism will suffer the consequences as Canadians and Americans are reluctant to travel to its beaches.

Parents of teens who usually go to spend their Spring Break in Mexico need to heed the warnings launched by the American consulate and other U.S. officials. There need not be more tears on this site of North America.

Our condolences go to the parents, friends and family of the deceased!

WSJ wrote, "The killings revived memories of the 1985 torture-murder of Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent kidnapped in front of the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara and later killed by Mexican drug lords who had ties to high-ranking government officials. The Camarena murder damaged U.S.-Mexican relations and prompted the U.S. to temporarily close the border to trade. It also forced Mexico to act against drug gangs, a reason that Mexican gangs have since stayed away from targeting U.S. officials. More than two dozen people, including Mexican government officials, cartel leaders and associates, were convicted in connection with the murder..."

The Juárez consulate, the biggest U.S. consulate in the world, received a bomb threat a month ago which turned out to be false, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Season Travel and Airport Updates: Broken Pipe at Reagan International Airport Adds to Passengers' Woes

2009 holiday season travel did not start with great news. First, passengers and airlines had to contend with record snowfall that got many flights canceled and record number of passengers stranded. As a nation, we also had to deal with t he Nigerian attempt at setting an airplane ablaze. Thanks to the efforts of passengers and stewards, the Nigerian who left a life of comfort to dab into terrorism was handled until arrival at Detroit airport. It has been reported that this Britsh-educated Nigerian was motivated by AlQae'da and their cohorts.

Increased level of security was the immediate result of this act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

A broken pipe sent water spewing into part of a terminal at Reagan National Airport Saturday afternoon, creating a major disruption, authorities said.

"The break was the latest disruption to affect airport operations during the holidays. Last weekend's record snowfall shut the airport for a time, and many passengers scrambled through the jammed terminal later, trying to make new reservations and telling of long delays."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lots of Booze, Gorgeous Women, Beers and Bikinis at Wet Republic in Las Vegas

If you are looking for a good vacation destination, think about Las Vegas. You can not miss all the fun there is to have over here. If it is hot, you can get cool at the wet Republic. That is what I found out when I headed there a few weeks ago.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Consider Mandalay Bay, Hilton Las Vegas For Your Next Spring Holiday

Every year, large groups of young people descend on Las Vegas to spend their Spring Break. Making reservations ahead of time is very important. If you want to be right on the strip, Hilton Las Vegas is the right place for you. For sure, you may have a timeshare at the hotel. That makes things easier. The amenities are great. Your friends and buddies can lodge with you and share some of the costs. Get more information on Las Vegas Spring Holiday and Spring Break at info

Mandalay Bay is also a good hotel to check out. No matter where you are staying, you will have a great time on the Strip.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Yosemite Waterfalls and Other Jewels

The Jewels of the National park system, Yosemite Waterfalls Flow to our Delight

This past September, I stumbled upon a book that opened my eyes to the natural beauties of waterfalls. Never before did I know that the Central Valley of California had so much to offer in terms of natural beauties and attractions. I was given a copy of "The Definiteve Guide to the Waterfalls of Southern and Central California," written by Chris Shaffer and published by Shafdog Publications.

We'll let 19th century British poet Robert Southey define waterfalls for us, "Shaking and quaking, pouring and roaring, flowing and going, running and stunning." The author says that nowhere in California ar ethe waterfalls more spectacular than in Yosemite Valley which is home to nine waterfalls measured at more than 1,000 feet tall. In case we want to try them out, he gives us a list: Yosemite Falls (2,245 feet), Snow Creek Falls (2,140), Sentinel Falls (1,920), Ribbon Falls (1,612), El Capitan Falls (1,400), Staircase Falls (1,300), Royal Arch Cascade (1,250), Lehamite Falls (1,180), and Widow's Tears (1,170). While I was visiting Yosemite with some friends from Oregon, I found lots of tourists from Japan, Korea, France, Germany and other countries there. Local tourism is also a big draw. On any occasions, you will run into a lot of people from the Bay area at Yosemite. The reason is that it is a quick trip beyond the floor of the Valley.

Read the rest of the article at Podshoppingblog Travel Reviews

This Holiday's Hot Skiing and Snowboarding Destinations Links

Nobody will blame you if you want to have some fun this holiday season. We have put together a list of hot skiing destinations links for you.

1. Heavenly Mountain:

2. Homewood:

3. Alpine Meadows:

4. Squaw Valley:

5. Sugar Bowl:

6. Kirkwood:

7. Royal Gorge:

8. Boreal:

9. Northstar-at-Tahoe:

10. Diamond Peak:

11. Bear Valley:

12. Dodge Ridge:

13. Badger Pass:

14. Mammoth Mountain:

15. Sierra Summit:

Get more travel reviews at Podshoppingblog Travel

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New York, New York: Welcome to the Big Apple

New York is a very exciting place. It appeals to all the senses. There is so much to see, hear, taste, do/shop for, travel to, touch and admire that a visitor can spend the whole year just having fun. Still he/she would find that it is not enough time to see and participate in the monuments, restaurants, museums and special events, shopping and transportation tours of subways etc.

I went to New York this past Summer from Boston, Massachussets. What is clear is that New York is a diverse place. Its diversity is unmatched. From the people and the communities to the accommodations and attractions, there is nothing like the Big Apple. I traveled to New York by Bus. I took a bus from Boston Port Authority to New York Port Authority. If you are not careful, you can get lost right there. The first thing you will notice as you step out of the Port is the sea of people who are going up, across and down. Food, traffic, skycraper and neons are everywhere. On every corner you turn, you will find a restaurant. Sometimes, you will run into various ethnic cuisines. After all, ethnic groups make New York what it is today. Officially, the City has nearly 18,00 restaurants. I do not think anybody will ever know how many eateries that exist there. Some of the big-named restaurants are Tavern on the Green, 21 Club, Four Seasons and Broadway-favorite Sardi's. You will find a lot of foodies in what New Yorkers are calling "restaurant row." Since it was my first trip to New York, I somewhat lucked out because I sat next to a young CBS technician from Boston. He started giving me a tour of the city from the bus. We talked about some of the common things we have interests in. The love of music and adventure traveling existed for both of us. The native Bostonian who went to school and is working in New York did not hesitate to show me around after we got off the bus at the Port Authority. He made sure to take me to some of the hottest restaurants in town. He said they are located above the popular Meatpacking District.

What else can one do in New York?

Vibrand and bright, Broadway is all I have read about. Some of the hit shows that draw a lot of people are: The Producers, The Lion King, Hairspray, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Disney's Tarzan, the Odd Couple, Jersey Boys, Musicals such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang etc. I had the chance to visit the Metropolitan Museum of ARt, The Guggeheim, The Whitney and the Museum of Modern Art, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. I also attended some concerts in the park and in Washington Square. You can shop until you drop. New York was made for shoppers. It is the best and most expensive place to shop too. Shopping at New York's Macy's, Tiffany's, Bloomindale's and Saks Fifth Avenue is a common thing to do for every vacationer. If you want to buy great souvenirs, you want to go to these places. If you want to save, you want to shop at the curb shops. There are as many shopping options as there are people to think and create them in New York. Each shop owner is more determined than the last one to prevent you from leaving his/her store without having a good deal or closing the deal. Go to Soho to shop at these original boutiques of mega fashion designers. If you want to shop in New York and have the time to go with it, you can find anything from anywhere in the world. My friend took me to Henri Bendel's and Barney's. Then we visited the Rockerfeller building where NBC studios are headquartered. I visited the NBC shop to buy some souvenirs and ended up chatting with the clerks who commented about my California accent. They do have a New York accent. I could not leave for the day without visiting one of the newest shopping destinations in New York. The Shops at Columbus Circle in the Time Warner Center has more than 40 shops and restaurants.

How do you get around in New York? No Worry, Be Happy!

Keep in mind that things appear to be very close in New York. If you are healthy, you can walk your way around. If you do not want to walk, you can always take a cab. New York is famous for its taxi drivers. Soon, you will be comfortable with the Subway system. That is the easiest way to travel in the city. You will notice that everybody rides the subway. It is the most efficient and fastest way of traveling in New York. No matter what you do, make sure to visit these classic centers of attraction. Keep in mind that New York is a city that has many landmarks. Visit the Empire State Building which is one of the most prominent monuments in the city. Ferry trips to the Statue of Liberty Island have been running. You can visit Liberty Island and the museum inside the base of the statue. A trip to Liberty Island will take you to Ellis Island which is a monument to all immigrants seeking freedom and rights. Do not leave New York without visiting Manhattan's Times Square which will stimulate all your senses. It is a marvel of neon and lights that all living creatures like. Visit the jungle in the heart of the city, Central Park with its acres of grass, trees and other greenery. It is the favorite recreation and relaxation areas in the city. Finally, the site where the World Trade Center stood is being redesigned as a memorial park as well as a proposed Freedom Tower skyscraper that will replace the fallen twin towers. There was not much to see when I visited New York. So my friend said it was better to come back when all the redesigns are over.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Spring Break University: Post-Rental Memories & Lessons 101

Spring Break University: Post-Rental Memories & Lessons 101

Spring break evokes fun-filled nights and days by young men and women coming from very far to change the rhythm of a sleepy beach town. Writing about spring break usually brings forth the major spring break destinations such as Florida, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Daytona Beach, Jamaica and other Caribbean hot spots. What many rental properties have not shared with the public is the amount of money and repairs that go on after the wild beer-laden and overcrowded parties are over. To get an idea of what went on at these rental houses, condos and hotel rooms, we have been talking to those who clean all the mess up. Yes, the cleaning people have a few good points to make about Spring Break. For them, it is not all fun. Many homeowners and rental managers end up losing sleep over the conditions in which their house is found.

It is not uncommon to spend thousands of dollar to repair some of these fancy beach houses. Anything that is supposed to go wrong can go wrong during these days where young men and women roam the beaches searching for the next alcohol fix and fun. If you leave a furnished house, you may find it empty with holes in the walls, towel racks yanked loose, cigarette burns, broken chairs, tables and plates. The bad part can be overflowing toilets. So real estate agents and housekeepers know that some slobs that live among us, the rest of human species. These people can turn your stomach due to their pools of vomit and antics of hiding blood-soaked towels, pillow in closet and between mattresses, tacking condoms on the wall, stacking every stick of furniture, ripping a ceiling fan down etc. Nights of alcohol have the distinct way of destroying rugs, busting doors and windows to say the least. Housekeepers clean puke in the porches and sinks. They have to clean up the garbage disposal and the refrigerator that is full with rotten foods and pizzas. Every Summer, beach towns all over the US, Mexico and Jamaica have to deal with Junebugs, these college and high school students who come to have fun. Yes, they bring the money, but the damage they cause can be huge. Owners are always surprised to see what these kids can do. They leave maggot-filled meat on the table and the counters. They also used feminine products in the restroom and bedroom. It is like a disaster area.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Importance of Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon & Yellowstone National Parks

Study Funded by National Park Service Departing Director Finds Significance and Influences on Nearby Communities

Buses laden with tourists from Germany, England, France, Canada, Belgium, Austria and elsewhere are heading up the mountain to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National parks. Most of them want to spend time and money at places such as Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National park. They want to be intimate with one of the natural wonders of the world. The study found that the tourists who flocked to these local national wonders also pump money not only into Oakhurst, Three Rivers and Mariposa, but also into far-flung places such as Fresno, Clovis, Visalia and other surrounding business places. This study was commissioned amidst the proposed budget cuts in the millions of dollars this year. For sure, the National Park Service plays an important role in the economic vitality of many communities. Yosemite by itself pumps $371 million to nearby communities. For your information, it is ranked as no. 3 among national parks, monuments and historic parks. The study found that the Great Smoky Mountains National park in Tennessee and North Carolina and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona ranked first and second. It found Yellowstone comes in fourth place. The study gave examples of local businesses whose business depends largely on the park. Reimer's Candies in Three Rivers sells boxes of chocolates displayed in the front window showing a panoramic photograph of the High Sierra. Without Yosemite, this business would not exist for all these 57 years. Over the years, Oakhurst has become a major hub for art galleries. Many tourists buy paintings as souvenirs. Famous painters, artists have made Oakhurst their home in order to be close to their customers. From April to the beginning of the first snow fall, the mountain communities are abuzz with tourists who want to see the parks.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Farewell to Steve Irwin: Stingray Killed Crocodile Hunter

Quotations from Steve Irwin who was know as The Crocodile Hunter. He was killed Monday while filming a TV show about the dangers of the ocean. He was fatally stabbed in the chest by a stingray’s barb which appears to have pierced his heart.

I am optimistic globally. So many scientists are working frantically on the reparation of our planet.
- Steve Irwin - The Crocodile Hunter

I believe sustainable use is the greatest propaganda in wildlife conservation at the moment.
- Steve Irwin - The Crocodile Hunter

I believe our biggest issue is the same biggest issue that the whole world is facing, and that’s habitat destruction.
- Steve Irwin - The Crocodile Hunter

But I put my life on the line to save animals.
- Steve Irwin - The Crocodile Hunter

Every cent we earn from Crocodile Hunter goes straight back into conservation. Every single cent.
- Steve Irwin - The Crocodile Hunter

I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message.
- Steve Irwin - The Crocodile Hunter

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Yosemite Never Stops Being A Source of Inspiration with its Mountains, Trees, Lakes & Waterfalls

This past September, I stumbled upon a book that opened my eyes to the natural beauties of waterfalls. Never before did I know that the Central Valley of California had so much to offer in terms of natural beauties and attractions. I was given a copy of "The Definiteve Guide to the Waterfalls of Southern and Central California," written by Chris Shaffer and published by Shafdog Publications.

We'll let 19th century British poet Robert Southey define waterfalls for us, "Shaking and quaking, pouring and roaring, flowing and going, running and stunning." The author says that nowhere in California ar ethe waterfalls more spectacular than in Yosemite Valley which is home to nine waterfalls measured at more than 1,000 feet tall. In case we want to try them out, he gives us a list: Yosemite Falls (2,245 feet), Snow Creek Falls (2,140), Sentinel Falls (1,920), Ribbon Falls (1,612), El Capitan Falls (1,400), Staircase Falls (1,300), Royal Arch Cascade (1,250), Lehamite Falls (1,180), and Widow's Tears (1,170). While I was visiting Yosemite with some friends from Oregon, I found lots of tourists from Japan, Korea, France, Germany and other countries there. Local tourism is also a big draw. On any occasions, you will run into a lot of people from the Bay area at Yosemite. The reason is that it is a quick trip beyond the floor of the Valley.

No matter how many waterfalls you have seen, you will be awed by the sheer magnitude and the beauty of these waterfalls and the large volume of water that come crashing on these boulders. Chris helps me understand falls. He states that waterfalls can be divided into at least five different types. Many are a combination. Plunge falls are the classic form, where the water drops vertically losing all or most contact with rock face. Horsetail falls, on the other hand, are characterized by their constant or near-contact with the rock. In a cascade falls, water descends over gradually sloping rocks, often in a series of steps. There are also fan falls which are wider at the base than they are at the top. Then come punchbowl falls which occur when a constricted stream is forcefully shot outward and downward into a large collectiong pool.

Waterfalls you did not know about in the Valley: Mist Falls, Kings Canyon National park; Crizzly Falls, Giant Sequoia National Monument; Racheria Falls, Sierra National Forest; Tokopah Falls, Sequoia National Park, Marble Falls, Sequoia National park; Wapama Falls, Yosemite National park; Chilnualna Falls, Yosemite National Park; Waterwheel Falls, Yosemite Ntional Park.

The Yosemite Falls wait for you. If you don't make plans to see them, others will see and talk about what is in your back yards.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lost and Unclaimed Baggage, a Traveler's Headache

Many of the airline's operations were disrupted. Airline executives blamed the complications on worker absences, while union leaders pegged the difficulties to inadequate staffing in Philadelphia.

According to the department of Transportation, Unclaimed Baggage Center, here's what happens when the baggage is lost

1. The bag is sent to an airline's claims center. A description of the luggage is entered into an electronic tracing system used by the major airlines.

2. The airlines take from 90 to 120 days to track down owners of lost luggage. Airline officials will search the baggage for anything that might offer contact information. In most cases, owners are found and contacted. The luggage is then shipped to the owner or kept at the airport for the customer to pick up.

3. If the owner of a bag is not found, the luggage and its contents are sold to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, a private store in Scottsboro, Ala. The store resells, donates or discards the contents. The company has contracts with most major airlines. The terms are confidential.

4. Passengers whose bags are misplaced, meanwhile, are compensated up to $2,500 by the airlines.

Who are the shoppers at the Unclaimed Baggage Center?

They range from curious travelers to true shoppers and bargain hunters. The center sells at a fraction of the true value of the items. So many people make it a point to travel to Scottsboro to shop. Travelers can find anything at the store. Anything that people buy can get lost and be found at the stores. Most of the airlines and freight companies have contract with Unclaimed Baggage Center. They are confidential contracts. The good news is that Unclaimed Baggage Center does not or smell like Goodwill stores. The clothes are drycleaned to combat smell. The other items are cleaned before they make their way to the display shelves.

If people are traveling, they will lose baggage. Most of them will find their way to Unclaimed Baggage Center. Every year, the holiday travel season starts in earnest right about the Thanksgiving season. It goes all the way to the new year. Some of the items that get lost include clothes, shoes, portable electronics, dresses, wedding dresses, watches, kayak, toys, books and many more. People visit to see what others pack. Visitors have a blast walking through the aisles of the Unclaimed baggage Center. Some losers often make their way to the store, but they have no guarantee they will run into their own items. They will most likely buy others' lost and unclaimed baggage.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

There is no doubt that Puerto Vallarta is a paradise on Mexican soil. It is easily accessible from any US cities. By the way, the name sounds so familiar that it has become part of the local lingo. Long ago, I figured out that going on vacation, honeymoon, or just a weekend getaway is just one part of the whole game. The most important thing is our attitude. Do you have a Spring-Break-like attitude? When going on vacation, do you feel as if you were going to meet with the dream person of your life on a first date? If you get disappointed, don't lash out Keep your perspective and find the beauty in small things. Reengineer yourself by recreating yourself. This is why I want to give you this list of facts about Puerto Vallarta.

1. Depending on the time you go there, it can be hot and humid (95 degrees and up) What else to expect? You are in a tropical land.
2. If you go in September, you will encounter the rainy season. It can rain like cats and dogs. You can have a short time to be noticed. The sky starts getting cloudy (dark-rolling clouds start and soon rain will pour down just like any Caribbean country.)
3. The best months to travel there are November-April. The weather may be in the 80 degrees. That reminds of most Caribbean countries I have been to. The breeze is great on your skin.
4. June and September are the best months to travel to P.V. in terms of saving. If you are cost-conscious, that's the time to find the best hotel deals.
5. Be aware of the code of conduct and business repertoire of most drivers. They are after your mula. You may get scared by their driving skills. In the end, you will get to your destination. These guys know what they are doing.
6. Street vendors: You will find out that a lot of children are peddling or selling all kinds of stuff including gums etc. Some of them may be in your face...Hey, look at them as being as street smart, they have to survive in a poor country.
7. Souvenir vendors: If you go to the Central Market, you will run into a lot of them. They sing out to get your attention. If you can't handle them, tune them out. It's a different marketing skill. Up to now, you are having fun!
8. Go to the Malecon at night. It has lots of bars, nightclubs and discos where you can dance at. Here are some of the names: Zoo bar, Christines. Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and countless US enterprises are also there.
9. For the beer lovers, Corona bottling plant is right there. Beers are pretty cheap.
10. Don't forget to go to North Beach if you want to have a grand 'ole time. Relax amidst the rich and beautiful!

Travels to Cuba: What you should know

Hats off to the spirit of the Cuban people for their resilience! After 40 years of economic trade embargo, they still smile and dance. After all, life goes on. The first thing that will touch your heart as you start walking around is the zest for life, the desire to survive in a harsh environment. Never will you be able to forget the old days of glory of the city when ships loaded with American weekenders used to disembark at the various ports.

The 1940s and 1950s are only memories for a lot of those who used to hop over to gamble, drink the best liquors and get back to the US in time to go to work on Mondays. The best US shows and programs were also scheduled in Havana. If one missed them here, they could always catch them up over there. Long gone are these days! The remnants of these days linger in the various grandiose buildings. A lot of them are in ruin, but thanks to UNESCO, a large group of them have been renovated. They currently house some foreign embassies.

Let's think about a few years from now

What can Americans do?

Here, the point is to abide by the laws of the US government, American citizens!.

It is a fact that most Americans can't go to Cuba because it is still illegal to do so. The American trade embargo has been in existence for about 40 years now. President JFK declared it as a result of the Cuban Missile crisis. However, if you are part of a music, art, press or church association, you can go there. You will have a set amount of money you can spend there too. The way to arrange this type of travels is to get your passport and permit from the US authorities. More and more, Americans travel to Cuba through a third country such as Bahamas. They also fly there from Cancun, Mexico. While the Americans' presence on the islands is limited due to the embargo, many Canadians and European citizens can be found in large numbers. Who can resist such a paradise? It is like the last frontier in terms of virgin space! The beauty of the country and the warmth of its people are like fine wine. If you go once, you will never hesitate to make it your annual destination.

For a moment, just think about all the business opportunities that are lost. Think about all the best development sites that are being gobbled up by citizens of other countries in regulated relation with the socialist government. Any American business persons should set up a plan to enter Cuba after the lifting of the embargo. It is true that more and more, various US administrations seem to lean towards lifting it. A few delegations have been to the island to study the impact of the lifting of the embargo. Of course, you would see the country returning to its glorious days. Economic developments would abound.

Against the above backdrop, think about Old Havana in the millennium

Old Havana

Hotels such Prado, Inglaterra, and Hotel Plaza convey a lot to the foreigner. If you decide to walk downtown, you will find out that the city exudes an air of serenity, grandeur, and optimism despite all the ruins that it has fallen victim of. The Soviets are long gone. The subsidies have long stopped. A new tactic had to be used by the government. It had to adopt tourism to make money. The mighty US dollar reigns there. At any moment, you can find young cubans, adults approaching you with some cigars for sale. Very good but poor artists will offer their art works to you on the streets. They want to have access to the dollar. If you are a man vacationing in Old Havana, you will receive many offers from the members of the oldest profession in the world. Young, strikingly beautiful women will attempt to seduce you. It's the sale of flesh! Don't think about taking them to your hotel rooms. Very rarely will they pass the guards! Some tourists know how to bribe them, and they pretend they don't see these women. The law is that local people, natives are to stay off-limit when it comes to tourist sites and hotel rooms. In the midst of all of this melee, you will soon understand that the true Cubans are very entrepreneurial. They will adopt capitalism in a heartbeat!


For sure, you will get hungry after all of your sightseeing. Believe me, there lots to see and do there. You may be asked to eat lunch or dinner at a Paladar. It is kind of privately-owned restaurant where you can pay a modest price for your meals. Paladeres are often run by some families in their own homes. It is a good way for them to make a living. Don't hesitate to take advantage of your time by visiting the museums, churches, and palaces. Take pictures of the classic American automobiles. They could be made into a postcard from Cuba!

Enjoy your first vacation in Cuba! You are realizing that there was so much to do around here. How long will it take before you can freely go there? It is up to you!

Negril, Jamaica

There is nothing like spending Spring Break in a place like Negril, Jamaica. Depending on whether you want to stay at the Hedonism II with its well-known clubs, night life, bars and friendly staff, you will find lots of fun right on the beach and the surrounding areas. Back in 1993, one of my uncles living on the island described the place to me in these terms, "a young man's paradise where partying and meeting new people on the exotic beach environment are key to the central ingredients..." Since that time, I made several visits to Jamaica until he left the country for England in 1998 like many other Jamaicans.

In fact, Jamaican authorities claim that about 2.5 million people inhabit the island. But, you have to realize that more Jamaicans live overseas than on the island itself. This does not mean that they not attached to their homeland. Each time they have a chance to go back, they just buy their tickets and go enjoy the beauty of their country. It's the same exotic, sensuous beauty of the wild that attracts countless tourists from, say, Canada, Europe, the United States and neighboring Caribbean countries. Parallel to all the hotel and resort properties, beach homes of some of the most famous Hollywood stars on the island and all the attractions appealing to your senses, you will find the striking poverty level of many Jamaicans. Despite Jamaicans' relative success at educating its citizens, (other Caribbean don't come near Jamaica's high literacy level), poverty is the lot of many Black residents. Now, it may make better sense that

Tourism accounts for a big chunk of Jamaica's GNP. Most Jamaicans benefit one way or the other from the tourist's dollar. In turn, the money helps the local economy despite the presence of many foreign-owned resorts and hotels and international chains that tend to stash this money in overseas banks.

If you are familiar to the Negril beach scene, you will encounter what has come to be known as
"rastitutes" or "Rent-a-Dreads." They are hard-bodied, young male entertainers who go about the
beach meeting unattached female tourists. They strike a conversation with them and offer to be
their guides to the local spots. All the while, they are bombarding them with terms of
endearment. They have rehearsed their sweet-talking skills and succeeded to bed the most
reluctant, unsuspecting female tourists, Spring Breakers who just want to take in the beauty of
the island and it has to offer. You can imagine how this setting makes for a fling, a romance.
After all, it is a romance on a foreign soil. Some of these guys claim to have children by women
from most International countries. Their goal is to strike a relationship with a female who will
go back to her home country and continue to write and send money to them on the island. It
should be said that if they had not been lucky with their pricey charms which could be perceived
as harassment, they would not continue to labor.

No matter what, you will have the time of your life in Negril. You will fall in love with the
music, Reggae and laid-back attitude of the people. You will enjoy the flora and fauna of the
place. You will be able to go hiking, bike-riding and horse-back riding in the coffee plantations.

Filipino Cuisine and Culture

Taste Filipino foods once and you will find yourself fall in love not only with the large variety of foods but also with the people. That was my experience when I shared a two-bed room apartment with a Filipino student when I was in Junior college. At first, I could not understand why he had a hard time eating out. He preferred to prepare his own meals on most occasions. I had a better understanding of his culinary preferences when, one Summer, he invited me to visit his family. It was the best trip I had ever taken. The Filipino culture is rich in all sense of the term. Known by many for their hospitality and friendliness, the Filipinos I met, stayed with and traveled with, were all great people. My apartment mate had already prepared me for the trip by showing me his album filled with pictures and day-to-day life of Filipinos. I knew what to expect. Isn't it always better to travel with a local? My friend was my guide in his country.

People, language, culture and religion

The Philippines is a very catholic country. Catholic churches and images are all over the country. Pictures of saints adorn the walls of most Filipino homes. If you are in the country on Sunday mornings, you can see how religious the people are. You will see them in their Sunday morning finest heading to the nearby local churches. By the repeated rings of the church bells, you will soon realize how important religion is to most Filipinos. Filipinos speak English and Tagalog. Catholicism was brought to the country by the Spaniards. Bear to mind that the country was colonized by Spain for a long time. This is why you will find out that the Spanish influences permeate the culture.
After spending some time in the country, you will soon realize Filipinos come from various ethnic groups. Some researchers estimate there are about 100 ethnic groups in the country.

Music, local transportation and nightlife

Just take a tour of Central Manila. You will find out that nightclubs, discotheques with bars are all over. Their presence can tell you about how much Filipinos love music. Some people even go as far as comparing them as the Latinos of Asia. Well, most other ethnic groups love music too! This comparison comes from their Hispanic origins. Don't worry if your budget does not allow you to rent a vehicle, the colorful Jeepneys will take you to your destination easily. They are a very useful means of transportation. If you want to meet the locals, you should take these Jeepneys, made from WWII US military Jeeps. I have a special fondness for them. They have so much originality. To a large measure, they remind me of some other minibuses that I saw in the Caribbean, especially in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. They take on their owner's sense of style. They are running art pieces. If you want to listen to the latest US hits, then you should ride them. Some people tell me that they sometimes forget to get off at their destinations. So these minibuses' drivers have to ask or force these passengers to get off or pay twice as much. Don't worry if the streets are crowded with tricycles and other vehicles. You may say that traffic is chaotic, but there are very few accidents in comparison to other places for the amount of traffic generated by all these people, vendors, vehicles, and tourists.

Wide variety of foods, tropical fruits, and culinary styles

East meets West

Flavor. Aroma. Are you ready to taste the best foods you can find on earth? The fusion of eastern and Western culinary practices produces the what's known as Filipino cuisine. It's known from visitors to Asia. That's what encouraged me to visit my apartment mate's family and country in the first place. He used to show me pictures of exotic fruits that I had never seen before. Till this day, I wonder whether the Phillipines does not have more varieties of mangoes than the Caribbean and Latin America combined. Actually, these fruits became part of the local cuisine. On most occasions, you won't even know whether it's the same fruit you knew all along. On other occasions, they are used as decors. When it comes to me, presentation is as important to my palate as the food itself. The Filipino cuisine is full with flavor. In fact, before any food is served, designated tasters or mamancitas have to give their approval or endorse them. They make recommendations as what needs to be added to the meals. It's quite an honor for somebody to be help in such high esteem. Once the final touches are put in, the food can be served. Have a feast of al the fresh seafoods and fruits you will be served. Keep in mind rice is central to Filipino dish. They can make so many things with this grass seed. Filipino's love of great foods translates into many world-class restaurants you can't escape.

What about the local beauties? What about them now?
The most beautiful people you will ever encounter

These are some of my memories of the country. If you intend to visit, remember that it is a humid country. So bring the appropriate clothing. The most important things you can bring with you are a good sense of humor, good attitude, curiosity, and being open-minded. Visiting the country can be a life-changing experience for you. Yes, you will come in contact with the glaring poverty of the country. Keep in mind that not all Filipinos are poor. You will find some desperate business people or hustlers who will offer beautiful girls to you, but the old profession is present all over the world. Pushed by hard economic times, people may resort to this profession in a heartbeat. But if the laws of supply and demand that are at play. You will find most western tourists who go over there just to be with the local beauties. They are guys who are so old to be these girls' grandparents. And they have no shame to participate in these practices when they know for sure that these people are just trying to survive. It's the type of occurrences you can observe in some Caribbean countries, Central American countries such as Costa Rica these days.

Enjoy your trip to the Philippines. Don't forget to visit the business center. If you decide to stay at the Westin Philipine Plaza, you will have made a good choice.

Seychelles: The New Paradise

Have you been dreaming lately of escaping to a place where you can only hear birds chirping? Well, you can go to Bird Island then. Would you like to vacation in place where you can participate in a lot of natural activities with your kids and spouse, welcome to the beaches of Mahe in Seychelles! How would you like to marroon in one of the country's many islands? You would survive among the bounty and rich vegetation of this great land.

The Seychelles is a group of islands which lie 1600 km off the coast of East Africa. There is no doubt that most travelers to the country recognize it as a haven, a sanctuary for wildlife. If you are a birdwatcher, you can find all kinds of tropical birds there. Don't forget the tropical fish such as barracuda, kingfish, octopus, red snapper, cordonnier, parrot fish etc. You can be sure to find lots of birds in other places such Cousin, Aride and Fregate islands. The rich vegetation of the islands contributes to this abundance. Listen to parrots squawking in the dark and dense forest canopy of the highlands. In fact, there are some places that are so remote that you have to rent a SUV or a Jeep if you want to access them. In the highlands of Mahe and Silhouette, you will find bouquet of orchids, bouganvilleas, hisbiscuses, gardenias, and frangipani.

Having traveled to many Caribbean islands, I have long fallen in love with coconut and palm trees. Who can resist the succulent water of a fresh coconut? Who can resist a bowl of white palm leaf stew? This leads me to talk about my experience of the creole dishes such as Daube, Carii Coco, a mild meat or fish curry with coconut cream.

Activities and best travel times

The best travel times are between May and October. January is the wettest month, and August, the driest one. I had the best snorkeling time ever on Mahe beaches. Moyenne is superb and well-known by lots of European snorkelers. It is a haven. You can also check the other islands such as Ile Souris, Anse Soleil, Anse Petite Police, Anse Independance. If you are interested in diving, windsurfing,and deep-sea fishing, the best time is in March, April, May, September, October, and November. Keep in mind that the most expensive and busiest months are Deceomber, January, July and August.

Religion, Culture, Languages, and Cuisine

Seychellois are very religious. Catholicism is the prevailing religion there. You have to understand the historical orgins of the island. Its former formation is mostly French. A lot of Caribbean pirates decided to leave the Caribbean for Seychelles where they continued their operations. On any Sunday, you will run into Seychellois wearing their Sunday best to go to church. This reminds me a lot of the Caribbean countries I have visited. Despite their catholic beliefs, Seychellois also believe in spirits and make potions for love, revenge, and luck. So if you are failing in love, you may find a love potion over there

The languages spoken in Seychelles are French, English, and French Creole, just like in Mauritius, Guadeloupe and unlike Reunion. Include Ste. Lucia too!

Enjoy your vacation in Seychelles!

Visiting Argentina: Get your money's worth

When one starts thinking about Argentina, Tango, gaucho and Che Guevarra are what comes to mind. This is how I got interested in the country ever since I was a young boy. My first exposure to the country came when I met an Argentinian student in college. We became friends. So we took it upon ourselves to introduce our respective country to each other.

I have come to love Argentina with all its possibilities. You have the deserts, the Andean Cordillera and the desolation of the Pantagonia. More importantly, I fall in love with the cultural geography of the country. It has a large immigrant population from Europe: 85% European descent, mestizo, Indian and other minority groups. The country is alive! I guess poet laureate Jose Luis Borges will agree with me. Buenos Aires is very sophisticated and follows European trends. No wonder most Argentinians are very proud of their country.

I now understand why most Argentinians take Buenos Aires, the capital city, for the whole country. It is a very important economic and political site. Argentina is largely catholic, but all other denominations exist peacefully there.

Here is what you can expect to find if you decide to visit:
1. Agribusiness is the main thing there. Gauchos "cowboys" ride their horses into the horizon on huge cattle ranches or haciendas. Sheep raising is big there. You may even run into a young English prince working on sheep ranch in the back country. It is multimillion dollar business for a few Argentinians.
2. Be ready to enjoy two Summers in one year.
3. You will be able to go to important art museums and art galleries
4. Now if you want to romance your significant other, spouse or girlfriend, Tango is the way to go. You will let her see your romantic side.
5. Bring your sport gear: Soccer is king here. Trekking,watersports, skiing, rugby and wilderness walks are also popular.
6. Good news: You need no visas. 90-day tourist visas are issued upon arrival.
Are you ready to check it out!

Bolivia's True Resources: Her Indigenous People

The recent events taking place in South America tend to cause the rest of the world to pay attention. Peru just elected its first Indian-descent president. Alejandro Toledo defeated former President Alan Garcia. But, the recent few years have been marked by the self-imposed exile in Japan of former President Alberto Fujimori. How convenient was it for him to be of Japanese descent! But, Bolivia continues to differentiate itself with all its forms and attempts at giving more rights, land and education to its indigenous peoples.

What has it meant to be an indigenous person in Latin America?
Correcting the wrongs done to the Natives

For far too long, being an indigenous person in Latin was synonymous with being eliminated, ignored or assimilated. I imagine that many of you are familiar with this type of reading. Based on my observations of many countryside communities and groups, I can say that Bolivia is giving a challenge to the rest of South American countries, if not, the rest of the world. Some of the clear examples that show that Bolivia has been heading in the right direction when it comes to empowering its native peoples can be seen in the number of languages that are made official besides Spanish. Quechua and Aymara are now official languages. Bolivian educators and concerned citizens seem to go beyond this recognition. Most children from these two indigenous tribes are studying in their mother tongues. Officials are promoting the writing of more textbooks in Quechua and Aymara. Furthermore, we can see that a native Aymara was elected vice-president of the country. Overall, there has been more of a collaborative effort to grant claims to land, identity and rights to the natives.

Ethnic diversity seen as enrichment source of the country.

Visit bustling and vibrant community of El Alto

Bolivia seems to realize that it's time to put to rest the painful years of isolation and persecution of their own members. It is clear that more innovative reform laws will have to be enacted to reach all the communities of Aymara and Quechua residents. We must say that they are heading in the right direction. Instead of suppressing indigenous languages, the country is promoting bilingual and multicultural education. There is no more prohibition of native languages in school and government offices. The centuries-old persecution seems to stop.

Besides the capital, La Paz, you can see more and more Aymara and Quechua people in El Alto. In fact, a lot of them come to El Alto to seek economic opportunities. Since they are willing to hustle and work hard, a lot of them manage to improve their economic conditions. They send money back to their relatives in their home villages. El Alto may not be a pretty and safe place, but it's the first pied-a-terre for many natives who want to enter the capitalist markets. It's such a sight to be in front of the modern and the traditional. El Alto is the place where most indigenous people come to make a better life. Everywhere you turn, you will hear indian language.

After spending some time in the most glamorous parts of the country such as urban La Paz and more touristic Lake Titicaca, you will want to see what's behind all the changes in the country. You will want to pay a visit to El Alto where more than 80% of the people are migrants who speak Spanish and/or Aymara or Quechua. Be ready to bargain with the street vendors. Sharpen your Spanish skills today. Being involved in what has come to be known as micro enterprises or small businesses, I had lots of pleasure observing that most indigenous people are entrepreneurs who don't mind taking risks. That's their essence in reality.

Go to Bolivia and visit El Alto, you will find that many positive forces are at work. From the international organizations to the new conscience of the Bolivian people who want to redress the wrongs inflicted upon their own members, you will find a country that is fast developing. More and more investors are needed for more job creation. The unemployment rate must be reduced for significant pieces of the pie to reach everybody, every indigenous person despite inclusion efforts.

Hope you have a good time there. Find out more about the people and the country while you are having fun. Making this trip an educational one can be very rewarding investment for you.

Belize: Find the secret and key to paradise

If you are a serious diver, snorkeler, snuber, birdwatcher, you will know that Belize is the place, the paradise. Belize has the longest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. Belizeans have been working hard on preservation for the enjoyment of future generations and the rest of the world. Now, for under $500,(including air fare), you can visit these submarine wonders. The barrier reef covers about 290 km or (180m). If you really want to have fun, you will go to the Cayes. Caye Caulker is the most popular of the two. Ambergris Caye is commonly known as the low-budget island. Hey, that is what, I think, you are looking for. Great help to know this in advance!

Here is what to expect when visiting Belize's Cayes:
1. Mangroves cover most of the shore. You will be traveling under the shade of coconut trees shade. You may even want to try some coconut juice. And if you are really thirsty for more, the best technique is sit down and enjoy a few of these fruits. Don't forget to go native there!
2. Ambergris Caye is known as the laid-back one. You will find nice wooden hotels and inns. They are a bargain.

If you are serious about taking a trip there, contact Capricorn Leisure services at 1-800-4266544.

Enjoy the country that Late Charles Kuralt, the most famous and honest journalist in America, would call a jewell in Central America.

This is a small Central American country that has discovered the importance of the preservation of its natural resources and environments long before it was cool to do so. This is why so many adventure seekers and renowned eco-tourists have been attracted to the country's pristine and virgin beauty. I bet you that education has a lot to do with this stewardship attitude, commitment to preserving the environments. And as a reward to their efforts, Belizeans have been able to enjoy a flourishing eco-tourism that has brought strong and sustainable economic advantages. Who could envy them? While other Central American governments have allowed their lands to be stripped of the same natural resources, Belize stoop up alone to preserve its wonders for the world to see. Its rivers and jungles sustain a multitude of bird and wildlife. This is the birdwatchers' haven. How about the wild flowers? Now, you must have already known that Belize is home to the second-longest barrier reef in the whole wide world. Please see my review of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. A magnificent collection of sealife inhabits the coral reefs and sandy cayes.

Here a few factoids you may want to keep in mind when you go to Belize.
1. Make sure that you visit the Blue Hole at the Lighthouse Reef. Jacques Cousteau made a documentary of it. It is well-known destination for divers and snorkelers.
2. Visit the first nature preserve of the country, Half Moon Caye National Monument. It is the nesting place of the boobies. If you are lucky enough to get there during the nesting season, you will have a grand time.
3. Make sure to visit Tobacco Caye, Placencia. You will find out that birds and fish are the main attractions there. If you are into observing these creatures, go there. Hey, don't forget about the howler monkeys. You won't be totally out of the range of civilization. You will find decent restaurants there to dine at.
4. When you get back from your vacation, you will want to start planning your next vacation as soon as you can. You won't have enough...

Introduction to Brasil

Welcome to Brazil, the 5th largest country in the world and the largest in South America. Do you know what a "Carioca" is? Is it true that all you know about Brazil has to do with the rainforest and the wild carnival days in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo? Or have you seen any of the most recent calendars featuring a few of the sexy, drop-dead gorgeous Brazilian babes? Well, business will probably take your paths to this country. In this and other reviews, you will be acquainted with some of the country's best resources. First things first, you need to open your heart and be ready to plunge into such a diverse culture. Brazilians of all backgrounds, origins, and creeds are the country's best resources so far. Getting to understand them will sure make a whole lot of difference in this huge country!

How any ordinary tourist can conquer the Brazilian's heart
What you may observe as you go about your business in the country

A sports commentator once said that the Brazilian as either a soccer fan or a soccer player. In my experience with Brazilians in general, I will say that he was not far from the truth. There is no doubt that any visitor to this country will, one way or the other, be exposed to the other regular carnival which a soccer match. It is a big event that draws everybody to the field. From the president of the country to the farmer, the true Brazilian loves soccer, a sports that is starting to gain popularity in the US.

Soccer as a national passion: Brazil as a Soccer country

How to become a fan
Despite the recent losses to some neighboring national teams such as those of Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chile (3-0 as of 8/16/00) Brazil is known by many soccer connaisseurs/connoisseurs as a powerhouse. These days, as you go around, the lack of good defense and offense will be the topic of choice. Everybody will offer their comments in an effort to rebuild the national team. In years past, coaches and management used to be fired after catastrophic losses. I guess the point is that Brazilians are not supposed to lose a major match to any other teams. What we saw at the last world cup was a team that was in trouble. Then France ended up winning the cup. That was the beginning of a few major defeats of the country that produced such great players as Pele who remains a celebrity, and many others who excel in the best of European leagues.

Any visitor can become a true fan by making time to participate in a game with the locals. The fans can be of any gender and age. Engage then in conversation about how the team could have performed. Keep in mind Soccer a la Bresilienne is an art! If an important match is scheduled, you will not find anybody on the streets. They will be deserted. You need to the local bars, restaurants, churches or any congregation setting where a tv set can be located. Be ready to cheer with timbales or any object that can produce sounds. If you manage to make it to the stadium, bring huge drums be near a group that has a set of them.

To be a true spectator and fan, you need to be in the spirit. After all, a soccer fan, a Brasilian one is one who has the love of the game engraved on his heart. It's a matter of the heart! Make sure that you purchase the jersey of your favorite team. There is no cheering while being neutral! Take your corner and start screaming your heart out! Proudly wear your jersey around and be ready to give high-fives when your team scores. If there is one thing that will become clear is that Brazilians show proof of great camaderie.

Brazilians as warm, friendly, happy, enthusiastic people

When I was in college, I had a few home mates and soccer friends. They can have fun! In my mind, Brazilians are the most important treasure of the country. Get to share their pastimes and hobbies and they'll accept you with open arms.

More to come soon about other aspects of the country and its fabulous beaches

New Year's Eve in Brasil: Festivities, Cultural Celebrations, Beach Lifestyle & Carioca

At dusk, they head to the sea, the beaches. Clad with white outfits, the high priestesses, priests or babalao and a large group of devotees are heading to Ipanema and Copacabana, two of the most famous beaches in the world. In Rio de Janeiro, local media cover, film and broadcast the events for the rest of the world. Imagine, for an instance, that you can find the same group of people doing the same things all over the country, in all communities.

This procession or religious parade includes Brazilians from all ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds. The poor as well as the well-off, the illiterate as well as the literati, the outcasts as well as the socialite take part in this annual celebration. This is the magic and historical tradition of syncretic or mixed religions in Brazil. Everybody is ready to go to the ocean to launch, sail their little boats packed with goodies for the saints. If these boats sink, it can be a matter of being able to continue to receive these spirits' support for another year. Every year and on the 1st of January, millions of Brazilians flock to the see to participate in these rituals. They are ready to offer presents to the "goddess of the sea," Yemanji. This one is usually associated with the Virgin Mary of the Catholic faith. (More explanations will follow in regards to the reasons of syncretism)

Mystical or religious tourism in Brazil

Along with the Summer seaon (Dec-Feb), religious celebration is one of the great reasons most Brazilians return to Brazil. It's also a good time to get some great travel packets if you start doing your homework early. In fact, most of my former College roommates always took advantage of any opportunities to travel back to the mother land most Christmas seasons. For any tourists, being in Rio de Janeiro for the holiday season is never too bad. You will be kept very busy.

How did it all get started? Macumba, Uumbanda, Quimbanda and history

While the Catholic church appeared to reach some levels of success in converting some of the native people to Roman Catholicism, it did not have this kind of success with the largest population of African diaspora in the New World. The number of African slaves brought to Brazil by the Portugueuse surpassed that of the second concentration of slaves found in Haiti and later in the US. These slaves practiced some kind of religion practiced in the Yoruban region (as in Nigeria and other Central and West African countries). Under extreme pressure by the slave masters, owners and the Catholic church, the slaves were compelled to incorporate their beliefs into the spirits and the magic of the native faith. Basically, the African slaves publicly followed the church while they secretly practiced their African religions until they became free in 1888. That's how we now have the incorporation of religion into Brazilian culture and the the Roman catholic church.

This etat de choses also occurred in most other Latin American countries. For example, under French slavery, the African slaves found in Saint Domingue (now Haiti) resorted to the same secret practices and mixture of spirits and faith to survive the the many years of slavery and prohibition. Some of the persecution even occurred way after Haiti became the second independent in this hemisphere and the 1st black country to put an end to slavery in 1804. The slaves found in Cuba also went to a long period of concealment of their religious practices.

Mystical unity and tolerance: Samba or the rythm of the Saints

Through these long periods of persecution and tribulation, tolerance took hold. Brazilians, for the most part, realize that religious tolerance must be accepted. The covert practices of their religion which ultimately gave rise to empowerment started with the permission to the slaves by the masters to keep their drums. They were allowed to play their drums at their meetings. You can now appreciate the unique cheering style of Brazilians at soccer stadiums all over the country. If you intend to visit Brazil, don't forget to attend a soccer game at Maracana stadium. The batucadas reign in Brazil. The rich religious and cultural environments bring us the most unique beats of Samba. In the US, we have the Blues.

In short, if you want to visit to Rio de Janeiro for the Carnival, just start thinking about this:

Macumba (candomble and Umbanda) as the equivalent of Voodoo or Vodun and Santeria

* Macumba is the term used to refer to two forms of Afriacan spirit worship in Brazil: Candomble and Umbanda. The umbandistas believe that all spirits are good. This is a comparison in deity functions in Haiti where the Hougan who serve with their right hands intend to do well and heal the sick.

* Quimbanda is practiced by a fairly large group of people who believe some spirits some misbehaving spirits can be tamed. The Quimbandistas believe they can work with these unruly spirits. Devotees think they can contact and incorporate these bad spirits. They can receive power from them. People think of Quimbanda as black magic.

Useful information about Rio and beyond

* Aspects of Macumba's faith: a.) Humans have both physical and spiritual body. (Is this some similarity between the catholic or even protestant doctrine and Macumba?) b.) Discarnate entities constantly contact the physical world c.) Humans can learn to contact and incorporate the spirits for the purposes of healing and spiritual evolution.

* Brasilia, founded in 1960, is a very modernist city with lots of beautiful architectures. But it's somewhat isolated according to most Brasilians.

* Hot beaches to see great bodies and cariocas are Ipanema and Copacabana. Walk the beaches and see for yourself. These beaches are the most democratic places on earth. Take enough snack and water along.

* Corcovada: A site you must go to if you happen to be down there. You will see the statue of Jesus there.

Enjoy your Summer vacation in Rio de Janeiro! Celebrate and dance like Brasilians above all.

Rio de Janeiro: Witness a vibrant culture, Capoeira, Hard bodies and Surfing

Most tourists tend to think of Rio de Janeiro as the embodiment of Brasil, a land with so much wealth and poverty, a land of huge contrasts. Are you ready to let down your sensibilities on this journey? If you are still readin along, then you may be ready to stroll along the world famous beaches of Rio with me. Your eyes will find the most interesting attractions, not only in the city, but also in the people themselves. Most people will tell you that Brasilians or the cariocas are vain people. Well, for having known them, I will say that they are pleasure seekers. They let the good times roll. Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Beaches and carnival times in Rio de Janeiro

Most tourists tend to go to Brasil for the end-of-the-year holiday season. In fact, most Brasilians tend to return to the homeland at that time too. They can't stay away from the rich cultural festivities that go on and on. The carnival season is also the time to see how good natured Brasilians can be. If you can have a good time, then you can join their crowd. Writing or talking about Brasil brings to mind some of the favorite activities most residents of this splendid city like joining in.

The Carioca image:

The true carioca cares a lot about his self-image. Tanned and hard bodied, he tends to spend a lot of time in social settings. Where else to meet a large group of people other the beautiful and expansive beaches of Rio? The carioca loves soccer with a strong passion. He likes going to Maracana stadium where everything seems to be sacred. For example, most cariocas pay continuous tribute to Pele's chair, Zico's whirpool and Garrincha's massage. No matter what, the beach is the common denominator. Everything revolves around it.

If you go to Rio with your intent on pleasure, don't fail to visit Ipanema, Copacabana, Flamengo, Leblon etc. It is not unusual to find scantily clad female tourists. Actually, they are very friendly. They will exchange some pleasanteries with you. They will even point you in the right directions in case you appear lost. You won't find them topless though. Their breasts are often covered, but their buttocks or buns may be left bare. They have no problems wearing their skimpy string bikinis. Guys, resist temptations. Behave now! The typical carioca is in the midst of all this crowd. He knows what is up. He keeps track on the comings and goings of the beach. He may drink, then fall asleep. He visits the bar and the samba clubs late at night. Hanging out with a carioca can be lots of fun.

Don't forget to engage your senses and unleash your inhibitions during Carnival time. After all, Rio is that type of sensuous city you can't seem to forget. Next year, you will return there.

Panama Canal

Most people who have traveled through the Panama Canal will tell you that they wished they had been able to live in the country. It is a haven in most aspects of the word. The question that has been on the mind of us all is what's going to happen to the canal once the Americans leave by the end of this year. How will it run? Who is going to influence the administration of one of the most important waterway crossings on earth?

Get a sense of the importance of the canal by taking a look at the number of vessels it provides passage to annually: 12000. You can see the mammoth ships go through this canal bordered with rainforest-like jungles on both sides. You would be inspired to write a poem if you were a writer. Maybe you will be able to compose a song. How about that!

For a long time, the US has been administering the canal with the American congress spending millions of dollars to keep it running the way it should. Appropriate maintenance is a must! Believe it or not, the Panama Canal is a money-making machine too. It has been doing well. The questions that are on every body's mind are whether it will still be in the state-of-the art shape. The Panamanians are faced with a challenge they are very willing to take on. They know the rest of the world is watching them. Personally, I have no doubt they will succeed. I went to college with a lot of proud and intelligent Panamanians who studied hard trying to get ready for this day. They will make it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you plan to visit this country:
1. Panamanians, in general, are the most intelligent and proudest people I have read and encountered. They are what we want to call a potpouri. They are from all kinds of countries and from various ethnic backgrounds. It is a cultural stew that has managed to live in good harmony.
2. English, Spanish and other languages are spoken there. In fact, because of the canal, most languages of the world are, at one time or the other, spoken there.
3. Panama City, the capital, is a bubbling, prosperous city with all kinds of amenities that you would encounter in developed countries. Many visitors who have spent a few months or weeks there will speak highly of the country.
4. The US dollar called Balboa is used there without any problem. The country has maintained great trade relationship with all Central American
and Caribbean countries. You will run into merchants from these countries.
5. Visit Darien. The Nature Conservancy named it a National Park. It is one of the world's natural treasures. It is a densely forested domain of about 6000 kilometers north of Colombia of which Panama was part and at the heart of North America.
6. Visit the historical sites that abound in Panama city and all around.
7. Just like the rest of the Caribbean, Panama has the rainy season and the dry season too. Good time to travel: December through mid-April.

The Galapagos Islands

Pack light or just take casual clothing for the trip to the Galapagos Islands. You will be among the last refuge of some rare marine animals and birds such as sea lions, penguins, sea turtles, lava herons and night herons. You will be walking on vast areas of lava flows forming a haven for most of these animals. You will also be able to go snorkeling and swim with the sea lions. Most importantly, you will be able to meditate and help support such gigantic efforts to save this area of the world.

How long can the world have access to this place that resembles no others when it comes to natural beauty, fauna, flora, ecological importance and marine life? To answer this question, we will take a look at the particularities of these 13 groups of islands making The Galapagos.

Until last November, 2000, most people know of Galapagos as a prime ecotourism destination. On these islands roam hundreds of animals that can't be found anywhere else. In fact, back in 1835, Charles Darwin got so inspired by his island visits that he found enough materials for his famous or infamous theories of evolution or natural selection. Since this time, the world has come in contact with the beauty and kinds of life and organisms existing on these islands.

These sets of islands have caught everybody's attention to the point that in 1936, the Galapagos islands were designated as an Ecuadorian National Park. And in 1978, they became part of the World Heritage Site under the United Nations. The animals that abound on these islands depend mostly on the richness of the sea surrounding them. It's such a measured equilibrium. When the human elements get part of the macro picture, troubles started.

So far, ecotourism brings a lot of revenues to the Ecuadorian government and people. Most people will say this is a sustainable practice. As long as the Galapagos National Park employees, however small in numbers they might be, enforce the tourist regulations, the world may expect to have this reserve for a long time. By the way, I must add that there is a Charles Darwin Research Station on the islands too.

Everything may change as the result of the local fishermen (most of them come from the mainland where fishing resources tend to be depleted due to commercial fishing) who continue to relocate to the fertile Galapagos islands. They want to fish in the Marin reserve. They are attracted by huge benefits and catches of shark fins that they want to sell to the Asian markets. They are coming and they are ready to take on the Ecuadorian government with all their might. Will the government cave in? you may ask. The fishermen want to increase their annaul quotas of spiny lobster and other fish. They started creating trouble on the islands by protesting, harassing and keeping hostages some of the tourists and tortoises and chasing the park's employees. The Ecuadorian government caved in to their demands. The fishermen received a 30-ton increase in the lobster business. What else will they demand next?

Looking at the large picture

This is one of the problems that exists in most third world countries where governments are trying to set apart lands for reserves. Special groups always end up pressuring these governments to give them free access. Some other problems are the lack of patrol and enforcement. Rich individuals or well-connected individuals always got their ways. They know the right buttons to push. Knowing that some of these governments can be destabilized easily, they soon cave in to these demands. What ends up happening is the systematic depletion or overexploitation of these maritime reserves. This is why one may not know for sure how long the Galapagos islands will be able to host these animals and plants.

Why should we all be concerned over the fate of these animals and plants?

The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that the secret cure of some of our diseases may still lie there. Seeing the destruction of the Galapagos islands can be seen as a tragedy that could be compared to the idea of destruction of the Amazons. None of us would like to see something like that happens.


As more and more Ecuadorians and all sorts of entrepreneurs are flocking to the islands about 600 miles off the mainland (Ecuador), there is no doubt that there will be some encroachment on the habitat of these creatures. Here, we come face to face with the perennial question of men vs. nature. Should men not tame nature? This is obviously a view held by most of us, westerners. Why can't we live in harmony with it? Why can't we seek a balance so that the next generations can witness the beauty and wonders of the islands?

All of us should play our role to insure that sustainable practices are held by anyone living and working on the islands. We can't afford to just destroy, take away from the islands, we must also think about sustainable techniques to make sure that there are many tomorrows. Survival is the key to life on Galapagos.

If you go there, don't hesitate to visit these islands: Fernandina island, James Island, Floreana island and Darwin Research Station's Tortois Center.

Costa Rica: Kayaking, Sun bathing and Boating

Find yourself in a Central American country which has lots to offer you with a "feel-at-home" type of feeling. You will find many American tourists, workers and expatriates there. They are just enjoying the great historical sites, great fauna and flora of the country. Don't be jealous now. You can do the same. Go to,, Yahoo's C.R. page at Rica/

All of my friends agree with me that Costa Rica is truly a vacationer's paradise. So if you want to start making your travel plans, you need to keep this in the back of your mind. The dry season (and peak tourist sesaon) is December-April. As a result, the rainy season (what the tour books call the "green season" is a brief 7 months: May-November. When it rains, it rains every day without fail! Just like most Caribbean countries such as Haiti and Jamaica, most morning are sunny and clear unless there is a storm being built somewhere.

Spanish is the official language. English is widely used. Then you have the Indian dialects and Creole English. Costa Rica has a large biodiversity. It is home to 350,000 species of insects. Be ready to see families of white-faced monkeys, dozens of three-foot iguanas and numerous critters and birds. Bring your kayaks and hiking boots!