TRAVEL REPORT ON CHICAGO, GUATEMALA, EL SALVADOR, CUBA AND HONDURAS FROM SEPTEMBER 9-26, 2013

A. On September 9,2013 I together with Ogie took the 0620 flight to Chicago through CX 904 to Hongkong arriving thereto at 0820 and CX 881 from 1155 fromHongkong to Chicago arriving thereto at 1350 on September 9,2013 inclusive of the time difference;
A.1 Upon arrival, upon retrieval of our baggage at the carousel,we proceeded to Airport Express Counter to avail of their shuttle in the company of others to bring us to Holiday Inn Mart;
A.2 After checked in,to acclimatize ourselves of the surrounding we stepped out of the Hotel and proceeded to a Submarine restaurant to partake of their sandwich loaded with vegetable ingredients;
B. On September 10,2013 I made an early morning walk where I saw numerous busts of successful businessmen placed on top of pedestals who could have contributed to the economic upliftment of the area or the entire Chicago;
B.1 We partook breakfast at the Hotel and ataround 0900 we availed of the free shuttle to McCormic Place which was the site of the 2013 Chicago Print;
B.1 We decided to join firstly the seminar with pay “How to Handle Sales Objection” and later wedecided to proceed back to the Hotel due to sluggishness being felt by my body due to jet lag;
B.2 We partook dinner at the Hotel;
C. On September 11,2013 we decided to immediately proceed to the Exhibit site to attend the seminar on the comparative advantages and disadvantages of offset and digital;
C.1 The Lecturer towards the end was still of the view that the traditional offset is his preferred choice because of the quality of the print output notwithstanding its prolonged make-ready and other fine tunings;
C.2 Thereafter we visited the Exhibit area where we saw Goss Regional Sales Manager for Asia Pacific Rick Kordas at the Goss booth;
C.2.1 He was surprised to see me and inquired why I did not give notice that we would be joining the 2013 Chicago Print;
C.2.2 He inquired on whether or not it was possible to dine out and due to the absence of a prompt response creating the projection of hesitancy, he suggested its OK;
C.2.3 We had photoops and later he invited an elderly lady to join in the picture taking after introducing her to us that she used to be the one in charge of regional sales in the ASIA PACIFIC;

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C.3 Thereafter, we proceeded to the free  seminar  coupled with free  meals of Kodak where as anticipated the big area being occupied was filled to capacity;

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C.3.1  Specialists in various product lines of Kodak like Workflow  delivered lectures;

C.3.2  The comparative grandness like the size of the seminar area and the abundance of food and drinks  at the Chicago Printing Show could be indicative of the road to financial recovery and stability, thus obliterating the image of bankruptcy as announced in the past;

C.4We thereafter visited other booths;

C.4.1 Big show areas are occupied by Canon,Fujifilm’s,etc.;

C.4.2 Most of the display is geared towards digital printing;

C.4.3 Machine manufacturers from China are seen also;

C.4.4Through the newsletters the list of exhibitors adds up to seven hundred (700) exhibitors;

C.4.4  All the rooms of the  four levels of the big McCormicPlace building appear to have been occupied by the varying seminars being offered relating to print and print-related  subject matters;

C.5 Towards noontime I requested Ogie that I would go back to the Hotel even by taxi due again to the feeling of tiredness;

C.6Wefirstly partook lunch before getting a cab to the Hotel;

C.6.1 Ogie sought permission that he would want to be left behind to retrieve the magazines with our photos courtesy of Canon as well as to  enjoy witnessing  the exhibits and gratuitously getting their giveaways;

C.7 At the Hotel I availed of their  massage services;

C.7.1 Notwithstanding its high cost when compared to similar service under Philippine setting,I believed it was justifiable move as it allowed me to have  complete rest and sleep during the application of the massage service;

C.7.2 I received however a critical remark from the masseuse  that my feet which had unmanicured and uncut nails highlighted by a dead nail at the left foot   and  surrounded by ruptured skins   is a perfect example of one suffering from diabetes;

C.8 After service I continued with my nap until I realize that Ogie has not yet returned considering that the exhibit would be deemed  closed after 1700;

C.8.1If I had only  received a text or any form of communication about his  then whereabouts,I would not have suffered the anguish of waiting coupled with the entry of bad thoughts  on what if something would happen to him how would I be able to reach him and of course the big investment we had prepaid for our trip not only to Chicago but also Guatemala,El Salvador,Cuba and Honduras;

C.8.2 Pardon the sad thought but this is the Second(2) occasion I began to entertain the wild idea after  suffering similar anguish  I have suffered  when we were taking the initial flight in Manila:

C.8.2.1After contacting him at 0300  he could no longer  be contacted during the intervening period immediately before  departure at 0600 for our 0620 flight  to Hongkong on September 9,2013;

C.8.2.1 The anguish only ended when I saw him  at 0610 descending the stairs to  the Gate;

C.8.2.2 Thus the sad thought of a an old man at sixty eight(68) with difficulty of walking thus necessitating a wheel chair coping up  the travel requirements of Chicago,etc. has been finally neutralized;

C.8.3 I had to constantly talk to Lee though in Manila to help me communicatewith him but to no avail until he arrived at 0700 thus ending this time the Second(2) anguish;

C.8.3.1 From my inner perspective of surmounting once more a perceived difficulty instead of getting mad I invited him to go to the Hotel Bar and to drink alcoholic beverage as a respite or triumph from the First and Second anguishes;

On September 12,2013 we decided to forego with the visit to the 2013 Chicago Print and instead make visit to  the DuSable Museum of African  American History considering that we had previously visited the Mexican Cultural Museum during our last Chicago visit in 2011;
D.1 I took breakfast at the Delicatessen within the complex where the Hotel is situated while Ogie once more proceeded to the Subway Restaurant for his breakfast;

D.2 We decided to pursue the subway in reaching outto  the Museum;

D.2.1When we arrived we took the bus that would lead us to the Museum requesting the lady driver to drop us to the place;

D.2.2 We failed  to stopat the right spot where the lady driver was to drop us due to the intervention and misrepresentation of another passenger with unsolicited advice that we were not looking for the DuSable Museum but the Science and Arts Museum;

D.2.3 It was clarified only  when the passenger who made the wrong assertion alighted  and I inquired once more which is which prompting the lady driver to loudly state that we should not have yielded to the other passenger’s suggestion;

D.2.3.1 We crisscrossed the town bringing down and taking in passengers before the lady driver finally brought us to the nearest  place  giving us explicit suggestion that the Museum is just right around the corner;

D.2.3.2 When we were in the area we met a black policewoman who this time told us categorically  that  we had to walk two(2) more blocks followed by  another individual maybe of Chinese descent who claimed categorically that truly we had to walk for two(2) more blocks;

D.2.3.3 Thinking that the lady driver would not fool us,I inquired from an unshaved individual performing road construction   who told us that we should have returned  from where we came from;

D.2.3.2 Frantic about the situation, I  inquired from  another  young lady whom we met who was kind enough to have time to verify through her phone via GPSthe venue of the museum;

D.2.3.3 The result of the GPS calculation would affirm what the construction personnel had directed usto proceed;

D.2.3.4 Thank God we finally reached the place;

On September 13,2013 we checked out at 1300 and proceeded to O’Hare Airport arriving thereto at 1400 to await the American Airlines flight at 0545 to arrive at Miami at 0935;
E.1 Upon booking the flight I reminded the lady who booked our flight that I needed a wheel chair as per overall guidance issued out in Manila;

E.1.1 The wheelchair unfortunately did not arrive despite my going   back and forth to the booking lady;

E.1.2Due to the fast approaching departure time I therefore had to withstand  the rigors and hardships of  being physically examined and the delay that would be caused which I was not  anticipating to happen had I been provided with  wheelchair request;

E.1.3 Due to the tumultuous crowd where everybody seemed to be in a hurry my Ferrari red laptop which was requested by security to be separately checked in from the other hand carrieditems was hauled in together with the other empty containers;

E.1.4 I therefore complained that my laptop was nowhere to be found prompting security to check the piles of empty containers  and luckily it was found beneath the layers;

E.1.4.1 This scenario from my perspective is a manifestation of the brashness and/or callousness of the US airport security due to their propensity to make things done hurriedly,arrogantly and negligently unmindful of the welfare of the passengers similar to past experiences;

E.1.4.2 There was one experience in the past when I inquired on what had happened to Brother Ogie who was being detained for the inaccuracy of the actual fingerprints with what were recorded where with angry eyes I was told that I did not have any right to inquire and that what I should be doing was only to sit and wait;

E.1.5 After arriving at the Gate after a long and tiring walk I finally saw the wheelchair attendant  who told to me to sit down at  the wheelchair as she would bring me even on a short haul  to the  entry to the plane to which I obliged suppressing once more myemotion about to explode likened to a volcano nearing eruption;

E.2 When we arrived at Miami I was lucky to have been met by a wheelchair attendant who swiftly brought me and Ogie through a circuitous route  to the Gate;

E.2.1 While seated at the Gate Ogie suddenly realized that he left his passport at the airplane thus anguish for the Third(3rd) time prevailed  as I tried to imagine what if the passport could not be found  considering  that there were only a few minutes left prior to departure time of our plane;

E.2.2 After the lapse of thirty(30) minutes a lady riding in a mobile car inquired in a loud voice the name “Rogelio Fontelera” prompting me to rise up and upon meeting the lady she handed me the passport of Ogie thus giving me a big relief;

E.2.2.1 I immediately caused the announcement of the retrieval of the passport through the airport  public announcement device several times but to my anguish for the Fourth(4th) time and sufferingOgie never showed up during the intervening thirty(30) minutes  until about five(5) minutes prior to actual departure;

E.2.2.2 He admitted that though he heard the numerous announcements but he did not immediately return as he would like to express his thanks to the supervisor who found the same;

E.2.2.2 Instead of getting mad I just said thanks for showing up;

E.3 Upon arrival at Guatemala City we were met at the airport by Tourist Guide/Driver Luis Barrera(50255172982);

E.3.1Luis explained on our way to Antigua  that Guatemala is comprised predominantly of people from the Mayan tribe or a mixture of Mayan and another nationality who is called mestizo or mestiza depending on whether  male or female;

E.3.1.1 The city  is reportedly economically dominated by five(5) to six(6) families only;

E.3.1.2 Influenced by the movies,he mentioned that extortions to owners of businesses  likened to the Mafia ways are prevalent under  the  present-day situation in Guatemala;

E.4 Upon reaching Antigua,we checked in at the Casa Sto. Domingo which used to be the Convent of the Jesuits;

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E.4.1 If ever I would be asked what have been the best hotels I have  so far seen and/or experienced  I would respond immediately that it would be the Hotel in Sun City in South Africa followed by the Casa Sto. Domingo in Antigua,Guatemala;

E.4.2Upon entry to  Casa Sto. Domingo one would hear church hymns  and widespread display of high-priced religious antiques  which is made more heavenly due to presence of candle lights to supplement the few subdued lights;

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E.4.2.1The Casa is surrounded  with forested  trees and plants  where a portion thereof is the resting or nesting place of   numerous  colorful Macao birds;

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E.4.2.2  Fountains and other structures abound amidst ruins somewhat attaining heavenly arrangements;

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E.4.3 The attire of the staff could be those religious dresses  wornduring the olden times influenced  by the Mayan culture;

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E.4.4 It has two(2) museums which respectively comprised of the Catholic or Christian religious antiques and original  and modernized Mayan artifacts;

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E.4.5 It has class and character;

E.5 We were served lunch with all the amenities to be classified as fine dining;

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E.6 Thereafter we proceeded downtown to visit  the shops hopefully   to buy souvenir items preferably cultural or antique objects;

E.6.1 I was able to buy some small Mayan artifacts where I learned that the jaguar is an important animal to be identified with the deities;

E.6.2 I was able to buy also a dried-out  armadillo skin;

E.6.3 We saw also horde of young boys and girls running which according to Luis is a traditional activity   in preparation for the celebration of Independence Day  the following day;

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E.7 When we arrived back at the Hotel we visited for a while our assigned  room and that when Ogie opened the television the predominant show being shown are men and women performing sex acts  which was in contrast to what was trying to be projected by the Hotel as the center of religious purity  prompting us to smile while trying to ascertain on what could be the message;

E.7.1 Wethereafter partook dinner bringing along with me my small bottle of whiskyI bought in Chicago;

E.7.2 Fine dining (with beautiful Spanish songs sung by a trio who transfer from table to table)under a romantic setting(with one of a kind chandelier made out of pine tree)

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was once more experienced although there was a feeling of awkwardness as people might think that we were gays as we could not provide notice that we are related to one another by affinity as  stepbrothers;

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F. On September 14,2013 I made an early morning walk on the streets of Antigua where I saw at least three(3) lived volcanoes protruding;

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F.1 I noticed also that there are big palatial houses occupying big spaces with sizes similar to the structures that embody Casa Sto. Domingo with words:”Por Sale” thinking that they were for sale;

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F.1.1 I developed the belief  that the huge houses  were being  sold out of fear of an impending earthquake or volcanic eruption or due to economic hardships as it would be hard to maintain in tiptop condition these grand edifices;

F.2 I soon found out from Luis that the meaning of “PorSale”is“to leave out” or  “no parking”

F.2.1To have a better perspective of what is being reported allow me to quote pertinent portions of  the description of the place as provided  in the Lonely Planet:

F.2.1.1 “A former capital-the seat of government was relocated to Guatemala City following several major earthquakes during the colonialperiod-Antiqua boasts an astonishing catalog of colonial relicsin a magnificent setting.  Its streetscapes of pastel facades under terracotta roofs unfold amid three(3) volcanoes:Agua(3766 m),Fuego(3763m) and Acatenango(3976 m).”;

F.2.1.2”While many old ecclesiastical and civic structures are beautifully renovated,other retain tumble down charm,with fragments strewn about parklike grounds and sprays of bougainvilla sprouting from the ruins.”;

F.2.1.3 “Antigua was founded on March 10,1543 and served as a colonial capital for 233 years.  The

Site;

Most of  Antigua’s buildings were constructed during the 17th and 18th centuries when the city was a rich capital  and was transferred to Guatemala City in 1776,after Antigua was razed in the earthquake of July 29,1773.

The town was slowly rebuilt, retaining much of the traditional character.  In 1944 the Legislative Assembly declared Antigua a National Monument and in 1979 UNESCO declared it a World HeritageSpanish outpost during  the timethe Catholic Church was ascending to power.”;

F.2.2 After a sumptuous breakfast,we checked out and proceeded thereafter to DHL to mail the books and other paraphernalia to lighten my  baggage load;

F.2.3We proceeded to the mountain to have a bird’s eye view of Antigua  where we saw likewise a big cross erected at the center of the viewing area;

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F.2.4Thereafter we visited the Convento de Capuchinas which was founded in 1736 by nuns from Madrid.;

F.2.4.1 Due to the sturdy structure only minor parts of the building was affected by earthquakes;

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F.2.5We thereafter purchasedcolorful Mayan souvenir items peddled along the streets which include the  numerous colorful Guatemalan tops to further add to my collection,masks and a Mayan depiction of the proverbial three(3) monkeys made out of clay  who see,hear and talk no evil ;

F.2.5.1 Realizing that it would add  up to the baggage weigh I requested Luis for me to be  accompanied once more to the DHL and  have these items shipped thus preventing us from witnessing the parade in celebration of Independence Day;

F.2.6  We thereafter visited the City Hall Palace where we had photoops of somebody trying to depict that he was leader of the revolution;

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F.2.7 We proceeded thereafter to the Cathedral with its majestic ruins,then to the  Palace of Captain General and the City Hall Palace  where photos of    heroes and heroines  during  the revolution are posted;

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F.2.8  Unaware  that all meals  were deemed included in the travel cost  Luis erroneously brought us to a restaurant offering Guatemalan delicacies informing us that we should pay for the same to which we complied with;

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F.2.9 We thereafter visited the Jade Store  where I bought the supposed image of the  highest heavenly figure of the Mayans which was the subject of a lengthy coverage in one of the earlier issues of National Geographic as preserved and presented by the Store;

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F.2.10 We then visited the Mayan weaving area where I bought  decorative Mayan hanging  designs;

F.2.11 When we reached Guatemala City Luis showed the statue of Pope John XXIII and other statues of prominent figures;

F.2.12 We then checked in at  the Barcelo Hotel where I was able to buy some more Mayan decorations;

F.2.13 Then I took a dip to their  swimming pool and partook the jaccuziwater massages in the enclosures beside the pool;

F.2.14 We ate thereafter at a Japanese Restaurant;

F.2.14.1  With the aforethought that meal allocation was without limit,we ordered all the inclusions of a full Japanese meal like sake,gyoza,etc.;

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F.2.14.2  As a consequence I received a knock in the door of our room from the representative of the Japanese Restaurant stating that the Hotel was dishonoring  the claim that the Organizer through the Hotel would pay for our overpriced dinner  thus I had to pay the cost of the above-cited Japanese meal;

G.On September 15,2013 at 1400 after retrieving the boxes containing our breakfasts we proceeded to the airport to take the TA 972flight at 0630  that would bring us to Flores at 0740;

G.1Upon our arrival at Flores we were met at the airport by Tourist Guide Benjamin Melara whose Telephone Number is 00 503 7308 2280;

G.2 Benjamin introduced himself as he exuded confidence   that he is familiar even to the minutest detail about Tikal in Peten;

G.3Before entering the site we firstly stopped at the souvenir area to purchase reading materials about the Mayan and its culture as well as to avail of the toilet facilities;

G.3.1 Upon reaching the periphery of the site I was told by Luis on the possibility of shortening the  long walk to the site by availing of an open truck ride where we would be dropped of near the cluster of temples through a certain compensation to which I yielded due to time constraint;

G.3.2 On our way to the site proper,Luis pointed out to me of a woman hiker together with a male companion who was in a party dress with shoes with toweringhigh heel soles which definitely would serve as burdensome restrictions on how to cope up  with the long  hike;

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G.3.2.1 We already requested that our picturesbe  taken beside the hugeCeiba tree;

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G.3.3Upon cruising through the open air truck we firstly saw a huge structure with stairs on it which was pointed by Luis stating that there was no need to stop by as the same was of no much importance;

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G.3.3.1 Based on  the Lonely Planet description, I believed the same is Temple VI;

G.3.3.1.1”It has a lengthy set of glyphs inscribed on the back of lofty roof comb,recording the lineage of successive kingdoms.”;

G.3.3.2 Upon arrival at the cluster of temples site, we proceeded towards the direction of  the Gran Plaza;

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G.3.3.2.1 The Lonely Planet has the following description:”The Temple of the Gran Jaguar built for Jasaw Chan KawilI(king Moon Double Comb).  The king might have worked outthe plans itself,but it was erected above his tomb by his son,who succeeded him to the throne in 734.  Burial goods included 180 beautiful jade objects,90 pieces of  bone carved with jade with hieroglyphs,and pearls and sting ray spines used for ritual blood letting.  At the top of the 44-mhigh temple is a small enclosure of three(3) rooms covered by corbelled arch.  The lofty roof comb was originally adorned with reliefs and bright paint,perhaps symbolizing the 13 realms of Maya heaven.”;

G.3.3.2.2”Thereafter we proceeded to the Acropolis Central:”On the south side of the Gran Plaza,the Acropolis Central is made up with a maze of courtyards,little rooms and temples.  It is thought by some to have been a residential palace for Tikal’s nobility.  Others believe the tiny rooms might have been used for sacred rites,as graffiti found within suggests.  Over centuries the room configurations changed were repeatedly changed,indicating that the palace was in fact changed to accommodate different groups of relatives.”;

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G.3.3.2.3 Thereafter, we proceeded with our long trek and climb to Temple IV which according to Benjamin wasthe  highest temple in Tikal with a height of 64 meters;

G.3.3.2.4 On our way to the above-cited Temple IV Luis using his talent to imitate the bird and/or animal sounds tried to communicate with the  animals and birds;

G.3.3.2.4.1 Utilizing this talent  andthrough his firm hands in taking photos we were lucky to obtain pictures of spider monkeys and toucans;

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G.3.3.2.5 Upon reaching Temple IV I and Ogie climbed through well designed and secured  stairs  the top of the Temple after at least three(3) stops or pauses on my part;

G.3.3.2.5.1 From atop we had a good view of Temples I,II and III poking through the forested areas;

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G.3.3.2.5 Upon reaching Temple IV I and Ogie climbed through well designed and secured  stairs  the top of the Temple after at least three(3) stops or pauses on my part;

G.3.3.2.5.1 From atop we had a good view of Temples I,II and III poking through the forested areas;

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G.3.3.2.6 We proceeded thereafter to the Plaza de los SieteTemplos where there are”Seven miniature temples line up along the east side of the grassy courtyard.”;

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G.3.3.2.7 Thereafter we requested once more the open air truck to fetch us to maximize on the limited time available;

G.3.3.3.8 Luis  brought us to a restaurant near the gate to partake lunch where we learned that the staple food of the Guatemalan and the Mayan is corn;

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G.3.3.3.8.1It was unfortunate that while we were partaking our lunch  we suffered from mosquito bites prompting me to inquire from Luis on the possibility that the mosquitoes could be dengue-carrier to which he flatly denied;

G.3.3.3.9 Thereafter,we visited the Museo Tikal which is comparativelysmaller  in size and in display as the majority  of the artifacts are  reportedly placed in the Museum in Guatemala City;

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G.3.3.3.9.1 “Volumes have been written about the remarkably preserved Stela 31,a portrait of the ruler Stormy Sky crowning himself flanked by spear toting warriors in the attire of ally or overlord Teotihuacan.”;

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G.4On our way to the Hotel Camino Real Tikal where we would be booked for our overnight stay the driver stopped upon witnessing a tarantula spider crawling on the road;

G.4.1 Luis showed once more his prowess concerning animals which include deadly tarantula where he allowed the same to crawl through his pants devoid of fear as shown on the pictures below;

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G.5 After the lapse of one(1) hour we finally reached the Hotel which according to Ogie has a  resemblance with the Hotel of Ricky Reyes in Manila where after checked-in the clients together with their baggages  would be driven to the assigned cottage through a cart;

G.5.1 The lobby of the Hotel has four(4) layered cabinet filled with artifacts collected within the vicinity to my envy and chagrin;

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G.5.2 I decided to have a massage once more to my relief and comfort;

G.5.2.1 The masseuse who rendered could be a personification of a Mayan beauty;

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H.On September 16,2013 we were brought to the airport by a Tourist Guide/Driver who adequately responded to questions thus supplying the missing gaps on the  superficial understanding of the Mayan culture;

H.1 Having been issued two(2)tickets by the airport personnel in Tikal one  for the flight to Guatemala City and then to the final destination in San Salvador,the wheel chair attendant who welcomed me at Guatemala City brought me directly to the Gate prompting Ogie to complain that we should have firstly passed through immigration based on the advice he earlier  received that the immigration authority should mark or certify that we would be leaving Guatemala for San Salvador;

H.1.1 The aging wheelchair attendant in Spanish language would not want to yield to Ogie’s law- abiding  proposition thus prompting Ogie to heighten his voice “Tarantado tong matandangitoangtigas ng ulo” thus I was prompted to carry on the suggestion of Ogie;

H.1.2 As we traversed to the direction leading to the immigration area, we accidentally met anAirport Police Personnelin uniform and in broken Spanish I inquired  whether or not  there was still a need for us to go to immigration for the needed certification to go out where he responded “No” thus putting the issue at rest to the lukewarm satisfaction of Ogie;

H.1.3Stillmindful of a  remote possibility that  the threat of Ogie that the Guatemalan certification could still be needed,  minutes before  0910( which is the time of departure to San Salvador,ElSalvador under TA 599) the aging wheelchair attendant after a prolonged breakstarted to bring me to the ground staff to present my ticket;

H.1.3.1The ground staff before accepting and tearing off  my ticket stub viewed my passport and inquired why I did not have a visa for El Salvador prompting me to show that I possess a US Visa coupled with an explanation under a contrived authoritative tone  that a US Visa would suffice;

H.1.3.2 After few seconds of pause, the ground staff yielded thus giving the wheelchair attendant the go signal to push me on until we reached the inside of the airport which I deemed a victory as Ogie’s threat has been finally extinguished and that the inside of the airplane is deemed an asylum area from my perspective;

H.2 Upon arrival at 1350,mindful this time of the inquiry from the Guatemala City ground staff why I did not have a visa for El Salvador,I developed fear once more  on the  prolonged QA at the Immigrations  Area where  the elderly  lady assigned thereto inquired in Spanish language about the absence of El Salvador visa in my passport thus the lingering anxiety continued  as I tried again with my broken Spanish that I have already a US visa and after consultation with higher staff  she requested from me Ten(10) US Dollars for the issuance of  visa on arrival;

H.2.2 Ogie who was ahead in the retrieving of bags at the carousel appears to be triumphant as he did not mention of any difficulty prompting me not to reveal my tussle at the Immigration Area as this would  further add to the already  voluminous negative experiences we have had;

H.3 We were met outside by Benjamin Melara(Tel. No. 005037308) who claims that he was chosen by Tour Organizer to guide us;

H.3.1 He appears to be very articulate thus narrating within a short span of time in succession numerous subjectmatter like his passion to climb volcanoes,that his family has the desired economic foundation to send him to good schools which could explain his fluency in English and his other talents related  to  the arts like singing,etc.,his inability to accompany us  the following day because of an earlier commitment,etc.;

H.3.1.1Amidst the threat of rain where I inquired for an umbrella which he said he would be producing but which he failed to produce we visited the National Palace where he explained about Gerardo Barrios who tried to unify the Central American countries but failed to materialize;

H.3.1.2 Then we visited the  Metropolitan Cathedral where  at its basement the remains of the murdered Archbishop Romero who was well loved by its people are placed;

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H.3.1.3 I inquired on the possibility of visiting the exact spot where he was murdered  where according to the Lonely Planet his blood stained cloth is likewise displayed to which he yielded but againthe same did not materialize;

H.3.1.4 Inside the car under heavy rain and also due  to time constraint Benjamin just pointed areas of interest like the Multiplaza,Waterfalls,La Gran Via,Residencial Sta. Elena and Plaza Las Americas where the Monument to the Savior of the World could be seen;

H.3.1.5 We thereafter  proceeded to a local restaurant situated near the top volcano where unfortunately the supposed scenic  sight could not yet be seen because of the dark skies and foggy surroundings prompting Benjamin to say that he hopes  his prayer would be answered so that our visit to this area would not after all be in vain;

H.3.1.6 His prayers could have been answered as the black sky started to brighten up and the foggy surroundings  started to be diffused thus we prepared our cameras for the eventual sight and later the sight was converted into full blown view thus allowing us to take picture of the scenic spot of San Salvador from vantage point at the top of the volcanoe;

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.3.1.7 Thereafter I,Ogie,Benjamin and the Driver who could speak good English also partook dinnercomprising of steaks accompanied by particular wine which according to Benjamin is the choiced delicacy and wine in the area;

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H.4 We thereafter proceeded to the Hotel Sheraton Presidente for our overnight stay thereto;

I.On September 17,2013  I woke up early to have an early walk as well as to conduct an ocular view of the Five-Star Hotel;

I.1 Scuplted on a big  brass plate is  listing  of dignitaries who visited and/or stayed in the Hotel which include:

I.1.1 President Barack Obama;

I.1.2 Secretary Hillary Clinton;

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and other heads of states and of other countries;

 

I.2 At 0800 we were fetched together with the Driver by  the alternate of Benjamin who from initial appearance appears to be very  young and could not have the desired depth to explain the intricacy of the Mayan culture;

I.2.1We firstly proceeded to the counterpart of DHL to ship my extra baggage load in anticipation that I would be buying more souvenirs in other destinations we would still be visiting;

I.2.2We thereafter proceeded to Joya de Cerenwhich is considered as the Pompeii of America as the place was similarly buried under the ashes of an erupting volcano;

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I.2.2.1As unearthed, it manifests the way of life of the Mayan tribe under a perceived ordinary village setting which was  subsequently declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site;

I.2.2.2We thereafter proceeded to San Andres which is a Pre-Columbian Ceremonial Center where pyramids and their respective appurtenances like entrances,etc embracing widespread area likened to a football field could be seen;

I.2.2.3 When the Japanese tourist group arrived in the area I realized that their Guide who spoke in English who would be  translated into  a Japanese by a Japanesetranslator  had a deeper perspective of the place unlike our Guide who just points at the place that  there is a pyramid there,there is a door there,etc. without trying to explain their respective significance;

 

I.2.2.4 Though it was bad manner I frankly told our Guide that I would rather listen to the Guide for the Japanese Group and that he was broadminded enough to realize that there is deficiency in his explanation;

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I.2.2.5 The contention of Benjamin during the preceding day  that he could not join us because he would be the guide for the big Japanese group is belied also by the herein presence of the Japanese group with another guide  and not him;

I.3   Thereafter we proceeded to partake lunch at a well decorated restaurant at the Colonial City of Sta. Ana;

I.3.1 The restaurant was amply decorated by the works of art of Mayans and maybe of other artists not necessarily Mayans;

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I.3.1.1 I could vividly remember the sculpture of a drunken individual with protruding stomach lying at the entrance of the restaurant;

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I.3.1.2Iam reminded also of a psychedelic door similar to what was done by Nationally Acclaimed Philippine Visual Artist Leo Aguinaldo;

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I.3.1.3 I even had a chat with the owner of the place in the person of a beautiful but stout lady who claimed that the prestigious restaurant was built solely through her effort and that of her husband and not inherited from either of their  parents which was the earlier subject of my inquiry whether they inherited the restaurant from their parents;

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I.3.1.4 I even blinked an eye on their stout daughter who is anexact look alike of the mother;

I.4After lunch we visited the theater which the young guide tried hard to explain;

I.4.1Thereafter,we visited amidst heavy downpour  the Gothic Cathedral likened to that of the San Sebastian Church in Plaza Del Carmen,Manila  with its pointed spheres;

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I.4.2 Inside the Cathedral, we met a pitiful looking man who explained the sad circumstances of not having a job for a month now,of not being together with his family not to eat three(3) square meals a day, of thinking of committing suicide;

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I.4.3 Because of the sincerity of his facial expression,I felt deep pity where I whispered to the young guide to give Ten(10) US Dollars for reimbursement later;

I.4.4 Thereafter we visited  the erstwhile National Palace in the late Nineteenth (19th) Century which is a simple and humble edifice where the nationals and residents of the area could now freely enter and enjoy the place;

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I.4.5Thereafter as per my request, we visited Santa Tecla to have a feel of the place and to partake their corn-based delicacies;

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I.4.6 We proceeded back to the Hotel for an overnight stay;

 

J.On September 18,2013 we proceeded early to San Salvador airport to catch the San Salvador to Panama flight under CM 871 leavingat 0702;

J.1 As usual I requested for wheelchair assistance and that I learned from the wheelchair attendant that their minimum monthly wage is Three Hundred USDollars($300.00);

J.2 Upon arrival at Panama at around 1002 I requested  once more for wheelchair assistance and that I was fortunate that my name was listed on those  to be wheelchaired otherwise they would refrain from giving me wheelchair assistance;

J.2.1 Thinking that Ogie would be immediately forthcoming as were seated in the plane together I requested for the attendant to wait for him but then substantial time has been spent of about fifteen(15) minutes has lapsed  and yet he was not with us,I  thereafter requested to proceed;

J.2.2In view of the fact that he was nowhere to be found once more  I developed again my Seventh(7th) anguish on why he was not still there as the plane would be leaving already under CM 246 for Havana from 1202 to 1536;

J.2.3 Consistently at about ten(10) minutes before departure he arrived;

J.2.3.1 I suggested to him that  it could have been better if he had joined me due to availment of privileges as wheelchair passenger thus facilitating time;

J.2.3.2 He explained that he was looking for me and that he even met a Filipino;

J.3 Upon reaching Havana I was once more assisted by an attendant with a  dilapidated wheelchair where both feet would rest only on one(1) pad;

J.4 Notwithstanding this dilapidated wheelchair which appears to be the only decent  wheelchair existing as I did not have companions availing of wheelchairs this wheelchair being pushed by a tall and personable attendant   facilitated the entries of Ogie and I(who this time was accompanying me)  into immigration and customs bypassing  long ques;

J.4.1 After successful retrieval of our luggage there was that feeling of greatness for having successfully complied with all the airline procedure within a short span of time;

J.4.1.1The feeling of greatness was however shortlived as when we stepped out of custom we tried to look for somebody carrying  placard bearing our name(s) to no avail which is categorized as the Eighth (8th) anguish;

J.4.1.2 We walked back and forth  along the  exit area  and persistently inquired  in broken Spanish     the supposed guide who would welcome us for almost thirty(30) minutes;

J.4.1.3 Both I and Ogie could not simply avail of our cell phones to communicate to  the persons and offices concerned as both of us appear to be technologically ignorant and immobilized during that critical moment;

J.4.1.4 The only recourse was  to avail of a taxi to proceed to MellaHavana  where we were charged   a flat rate of Twenty(20) Cuban Dollars;

J.4.1.5The feeling of greatness of being able  to gain entry into an erstwhile prohibited country under Supremo Fidel Castro with images of Che Guevara imprinted  in conspicuous places and  souvenir items could have been complete if the guide  who was supposed to explain the culture of the country  was present;

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J.4.3.1 Amidst the  anguish of not having a guide,  what we saw only in movies are now before our eyes vivid realities like the  antique cars , people either black and white dressed in comfortable attires and in happy disposition as exemplified by sweethearts  kissing one another , groups of people dancing to the tune of salsa,etc.;

J.4.4 When we arrived at the Hotel we realized that it was a big monolithic complex prompting me to immediately inquire on any information about our guide in broken Spanish but they provided no intelligent response thus the anguish which is the Ninth (9th)is further heightened;

J.4.4.1 I went back and forth to the travel agencies holding offices in the Hotel but they said nothing which would be linked to my inquiry;

J.4.4.2 Nearing exhaustion I went back to the hotel room and further scrutinized the travel papers until I saw in a loose page under a different type print the name”Mr. Jorge Piqueromovil/cel: (53)5358-5260’ promptingme  to go downstair at the reception and ask the assistance of reception and”Lo and Behold” when the phone was handed to me Jorge answered and responded that he was looking for us;

J.5 George brought us to downtown Havana comprising Havana Vieja,Central Habana and Vedado;

J.5.1 On our way to the sites,Jorge narrated that the present-day situation was different from the height of the cold war  when Russia would present Cuba with huge economic support now Cuba has to  enter into joint-venture relationship with other countries to sustain the economy;

J.5.2 We were firstly  brought to Vedado where Jorge pointed to us the Riviera Hotel where he made mention that it was the former hangout hotel of Lucky Luciano,etc;

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J.5.2.1 Allow me to quote pertinent portion of the narration from Lonely Planet related to Havana necessarily embracingVedado:”By 1902 the city, which has been physically untouched by the devastating wars of independence,boasted a quarter of a million inhabitants.  It has rapidly expanded west along the Malecon and into the wooded glades of formerly off-limits Vedado.  There was a large influx of rich Americans at the start of the Prohibition Era,and the good times to roll with abandon; by the 1950s Havana was decadent gambling city frolicking amid all night-parties of American mobsters and scooping fortunes into the pockets various disreputable hoods such Meyer Lanskey.

For Fidel Castro it was an aberration.  On taking power in 1959,the new revolutionary government promptly closed down all he casinos and sent Lanskey and his henchmen back to Miami.  The once-glittering hotels were given to the rural poor.  Havana’s long time decline had begun.”

J.5.2.2 Jorge brought us thereafter to Havana Vieja where our first(1st) stop was at the  Plaza De Armas where according to local legend the first Mass was held in November,1519 in that exact location beneath a ceiba tree;

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J.5.2.3 We were brought to a Hotel where Ernest Hemingway is given tribute in view of numerous presence of his pictures within the lobby and elsewhere;

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J.5.2.4 We were brought to a wall where the black and white sketches of erstwhile intellectuals and/or aristocrats were featured;

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J.5.2.5 We were brought to a small entertainment area where singing of salsa was aired;

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J.5.2.6 The walking tour was interrupted when Jorge told me that we should go back to the Hotel to partake dinner and freshen up to witnessthe  show at the Tropicana Cabaret at 2045;

J.5.2.7  At the Cabaret we were provided with welcome cocktail one bottle of Havana rum instead of ¼ as provided in the travel contract and 1 soft drink;

J.5.2.7.1 Admittedly,I failed to witness the entire song and dance number of the colorful extravaganza due to my inability to stay awake due to jet lag;

J.5.2.7.2It is observed that the participants are predominantly or presumptively of African origin;

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K. On September 19,2013 at 2000 we checked out of the Hotel and proceeded to Fienca FiestaCampesina Boca Guama within the Zapata Peninsula where we had a boat trip in a lake where we made a stop at AldeaTaina;
K.1 At AldeaTaina we have a taste of the delicious crocodile meat together with an alcoholic beverage;

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K.2Thereafter we visited the crocodile farm where I am reminded of our very own “Lolong” in Misamis Occidental   which was considered the biggestcrocodile during his lifetime;

K.3 Thereafter we partook lunch where I bought a souvenir of a crocodile which was  differently made from that   being sold at the souvenir shop;

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K.4 Thereafter we proceeded to  Cienfuegos City(a UNESCO World Heritage Site) whose buildings and infrastructures are of French architecture characterized by perfect symmetry in its neo-classical edifices and a long straight walkway and in between is an island where metal sculptures of known personalities are exhibited;

K.4.1 We visited the Teatro Tomas, Marti Park(where the man-made island dividing the long street is occupied by sculptures of noteworthy  individuals who have contributed to the progress and enrichment of Cinfuegos),Palacio del Valle(which is one of the most beautiful palatial houses inspired by Arab Architecture I have seen and reportedly constructed during the time of Batista and which is presently being sold without takers as yet);

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K.4.1.1 I bought paper mache souvenir depicting maturing stout lady of African origin whose bosoms are utilized for hanging objects;

K.4.2 Thereafter,we arrived at the Hotel Brisas Trinidad Del Mar;

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K.4.2.1We are truly impressed by the widespread grandeur of innumerable cottages of varying colors;

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K.4.3 We were issued a gray band on our wrist which signifies a right to drink as  many alcoholic beverages one could take during our stay at the resort;

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K.4.3.1 Wethereafter partook sumptuous dinner where we were given a Cuban cigar as well;

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K.4.3.2 After dinner,my lonesome self devoid of a partner witnessed their song and dance show while imbibing available alcoholic beverages whileour driver of African origin enjoyed the night with his white girlfriend;

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L. On September 20,2013 before arriving Trinidad we were brought to the vicinity of the watchtower and thereafter walked under scorching sun to the watch tower itself and thereafter climbed the watchtower (upon payment of One(1) Cuban Dollar) up to very top thus providing a panoramic overview of Valle De Los Ingenios which is another World Heritage Site;l

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L.1Thereafter,we visited the Pottery House at the Cachanchanra where we met the owner who displayed  his expertise by  coming up with numerous decorative ceramic objects within seconds;

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L.1.1 I bought ceramic objects depicting male sexual prowess underneath an innocent hat and well designed tubular covering;

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L.1.1.1 In Trinidad we visited the Archaelogical Museum and tasted the local vino at TabernaCanchanchanra;

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L.1.1.2 Beside the Taberna I posed for a photoshot with the 1958 Chevrolet;

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L.1.1.2 Beside the Taberna I posed for a photoshot with the 1958 Chevrolet;

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L.1.1.3We visited Casa Templo de Santeria Yemayadedicated to the orish(Yoruba god) of the sea where we had photops with the head of the particular religion;

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L.1.1.4 We were privileged to have also a photo of what was written in his T shirt;

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L.2 Thereafter we proceeded back to Havana to spend overnight at the Hotel Mella Havana;

L.3.1 We partook dinner by choosing the food options provided in a listing;

L.3.2 Unlike the dinner buffet style we availed of during our first(1st) arrival at the Hotel it took us a long time to await the arrival of all the meals;

L.3.3One of the clients who appears to come from Colombia  smiled to his delight  when he heard the supposedly  popular song from Columbia being sung by the combo;

L.3.3.1 He was thereafter offered to buy the CD consisting musical arrangement from the combo to which the Columbian guy obligingly purchased;

  1. On September 21,2013 we proceeded to Valle de Vinales,Pinar del Rio with the aforethought that we would be visiting a tobacco cigar producing factory;

M.1 To our disappointment the factory we were targeting to visit refused acceptance of our intended visit stating that they do not allow visitors during Saturdays which could have caused the increase in the blood pressure of George as manifested through the reddening of his face simultaneous with the pronouncement of expletive statements;

M.1.1 Coinciding with our disappointment or frustration, we visited a place where they sell alcoholic beverages;

M.1.2 They entice you to buy by allowing to drink as many cups of alcoholic beverages as one could accomodate;

M.1.3 Thereafter we traversed the highway where we witnessed exotic landscape and palm trees which are considered the national trees;

M.1.4 We likewise visited the snuff mill in Candelaria  where a farmer introduced the step by step procedure to produce quality cigar to somehow neutralize the frustration we could have seen had we been allowed the factory operation of cigar production;

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M.2 Thereafter we crossed through  the Villa”Paradise” at  Vinales ;

M.3 We experienced the boat ride on an underground river;

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M.4 Thereafter we partook lunch upon reaching the restaurant fronting the huge rock painting called “Mirador De los Jamines” made  by an artist thereto;

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M.5 We thereafter witnessed from a distance the Vinales Valley which is deemed a World Heritage Site;

M.6 Thereafter,we proceeded back to Havana to view the Moro-Cabana viewpoint where we able to witness Canon Ceremony being held daily 2100 depicting the fight to defend the fortress against invaders;

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M.7 We thereafter partook dinner which is a combination of pork and beefwithin the fortress;

M.7.1 At the dinner table we heard rock music in English being played presumptively at a Disco place nearby;

M.8 After dinner we were brought to the Hotel Mella Havana for an overnight stay;

M.8.1 Considering that our CM 321 flight leaves at 0295, I and Ogie decided to just witness on TV a musical presentation which showcased among others the capability of a young Filipino singer to deliver high pitched songs to the total delight of the audience prompting them give the songstress continuing standing ovation;

M.8.2 It is saddening note that lately she has publicly opened up her true gender inclination as that of a lesbian which from my perspective could ruin her erstwhile beautiful Filipina image with an excellent high-pitched voice equalizing if not surpassing international talents;

M.8.3 True to the expectation,Immediately after her public admission as a lesbian she is now projecting a machismo or brutish image instead of an of  an effeminate lovable Filipina with an enticing voice;

N.On September 22,2013 at around 1230 I and Ogie decided to bring down our baggages where we saw George and the driver already awaiting for us;

N.1 Upon meeting them I immediately complied with my earlier commitment to give the amount of Two Hundred US Dollars ($200.00)to defray the cost of sending for and  in my behalf the Cuban-authored books I purchased  which we failed to send via DHL as the same did  not have Office during Saturdays  and another Three Hundred Dollars($300.00) with Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) for George and One Hundred Dollars($100.00) for the Driver;

N.1.1 This decision to give bigger amounts is due to peculiar situation in Cuba with its isolated stature from the rest of the world if only to assure that my things would be sent;

N.2 We were the first(1st) to arrive at the airport thus we placed our baggages at the front of the supposed entry channel for check in;

N.2.1 The only wheelchair available with only one(1) foot pad was seen where we left it off during arrival;

N.2.2We exited the immigration  without difficulty but I observed except for the detachable green certificate allowing entry to Cuba  which was retrieved by the immigration officer nothing was shown in the passport that we exited from Cuba;

N.3 As mentioned earlier we took the CM 231 flight to Panama arriving thereto at 0818;

N.3.1 At Panama I availed of the wheelchair where I was brought once more to the same Gate where we took off in going to Cuba;

N.3.2 The scenario was the same as Ogie again was nowhere in sight but this time I decided not to mind him and that when he arrived few minutes before the departure flight from Panama to Honduras through CM 426 leaving 1120 and arriving Tegucicalpa at 1213 I just smiled;

N.4 Upon arrival at Tegulcigalpa we entered with ease at immigration upon viewing our US visa;

N.4.1 We were met by  the driver holding the placard with the name Dominador D. Buhain  and later by Tour Guide Rene Rodriguez with Tel.No. 0050499200603 who looks like one of my fraternity brods at the Aquila Legis Fraternity;

N.5 Rene said the schedule would be to bring us to the Hotel Real Intercontinental to bring the baggages thereto and to  immediately step out to commence with the city tour;

N.5.l Before commencing with the tour I requested from Rene to have at least Two Hundred US Dollars($200.00) changed into local money to which he  obliged;

N.5.2 While waiting I saw a beautiful girl who was serving as a Receptionist for those who would partake of the buffet lunch;

 

N.5.3 Due to the enticement coupled with  the realization that in the Latin American countries the most bountiful is lunch,I and Ogie decided to partake lunch;

N.5.4 When we were commencing at take the food servings I realized that the beautiful receptionist was nowhere insight;

N.5.4.1 When I changed my eye direction I saw another beautiful sight in the person of the food server prompting to  bravely ask whether I could take her picture to which she nodded;

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N.5.4.2 Prompted by stomach and romantic starvation I partook with gusto the food I have gotten and inquired from Rene whether or not it was unethical to take pictures of girls to which he replied in not so fluent English that it was perfectly OK as it is deemed to be a manifestation of appreciation;

N.5.5  At the lunch table Rene made mention of some of the highlights of Honduras like small trees likened to a bonsai in a nearby forest;

N.5.5.1 He made mention also of the famous COPA pyramids;

N.5.5.2 He said also that in the Philippines there are individuals whose extremities like hands and feet are likened to trees;

N.6 After lunch we commenced with our city tour where Rene reminded us to be careful with our belongings as we walked through the city proper;

N.6.1 We visited the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Miguel Archangel,the City Hall,La Merced Church,the former Palace of Ministries  where we provided information about the history of Honduras including the Lenchan and Garibuna tribes;

N.6.2 What intrigued me was the display  of a gargantuan fossilized paw of  a huge tiger-looking animal  which had existed in the past;

N.6.2.1I tried to take photo but I was prohibited by Rene because of the no-photo policy in that Museum;

N.6.3 We thereafter visited the Basilica of Suyapa where the small image of Our Lady  at the center above the altar is being venerated via pilgrimages because of the reported miracles in the past;

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O. On September 23,2013 after breakfast we departed for a two(2)-hour or sixty(60) mile ride to the ComayugaValley,which was the former capital of Honduras and is the largest flat region in central western Honduras, where we passed through winding roads and mountains;
O.1 Reportedly, its stature of being the capital city lasted for three(3) centuries and by reason of its being geographically situated at the center it was also center of intrigues thus becoming vulnerable to attack during the wars of independence among the countries comprising the Central American Union thus necessitating the transfer of the capital city to Tegulcicapa;

O.1.1 We stopped midway at a restaurant situated in a big vast tract of land whose owner has the artistic inclination to cause the production of big-sized wood carvings to be decorated inside the big sized restaurant and elsewhere in the land;

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O.1.2A the left side of the restaurant are  huge distinctive animal  and bird decorative pieces fashioned out of rubber tires which are available for purchase;

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O.1.2 Adjacent hereto is a small zoo where due presumptively to security reasons  you have to climb and walk through a dangling bridge and walk down once more  to witness the same;

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O.1.3 Likened to myself who is inclined to collect cultural objects from other countries people indeed have  varying passions to satisfy unmindful at times on whether or not they would bring forth economic benefit;

O.1.4 Admittedly though I have visited many places,I truly find it interesting and this could be one of a kind;

O.2 Upon arrival at the Camayuga Valley, we were met by the local guide who brought us to the top of Sta.Maria Cathedral who showed to us the oldest working clock in the western hemisphere dating back to the Twelfth(12th) Century and its undiminished time precision;

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O.2.1 At the ground level the guide showed us the  anticipated shadow extent of the Cathedral that a certain date and time the  actual shadow would precisely fit the shadow extent;

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O.3 Thereafter we visited the Colonial Museum where I saw once more the big fossilized  paw of a supposed giant tiger as illustrated in the sketches surrounding the display where this time Rene encouraged me to take photo as the museum is adopting the open-photo policy  thus reversing the frustration I previously experienced at the Tegucicalpa Museum;

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O.3.1 The Museum exhibits religious arts from the churches within the vicinity including artifacts from the Lenchen and Garifuna tribes;

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O.3.2 I purchased all the cultural souvenirs in the museum shop including the small devil looking dolls and clay images of the earlier cited tribes;
O.3.3 Thereafter after lunch we proceeded back to Tegucicalpa and arriving thereto we decided to go to the mall fronting the Hotel;
0.3.3.1We bought another smaller suitcase and a book written in Spanish about the noteworthy paintings of Honduras including that of the painting of the miraculous image inside the Basilica Suyapa;
O.3.3.2 At the Hotel I bought additional Lenchen and Garifuna souvenir items;
P. On September 24,2013 which is the date of our departure I firstly partook breakfast where finally I met the beautiful lady receptionist where with courage and dreamy eyes I asked permission to take her photo where she immediately yielded and with a sweet tone she made mention of her name;

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P.1  Ogie on the other hand did not take breakfast as he admitted that he already got fed up of the food being served;

P.2 Due to the non arrival of Rene  at the agreed time we proceeded without him at the airport;

P.2.1 He,however,called up and said he would see us at the airport;

P.3 We were lucky to see him there after a while;

P.3.1 I was prompted to give him also One Hundred Dollars($100) as tip;

P.3.2 He facilitated everything for us including the conversion into US Dollars of their local money which could not be exchanged elsewhere;

P.3.3 He brought to the pre departure area where he bidded goodbye;

P.4 Inside the airport while waiting for our  flight TA 569 at 1100 to arrive El Salvador at 1200 Ogie purchased certain duty free items;

P.4.1Upon arrival El Salvador I requested for a wheelchair to lead me to the gate for the flight  TA 528 to leave for Los Angeles at 1505 and to arrive at 1935;

P.4.1.1 Ogie told me that I was lucky that time because the wheelchair attendant has face value prompting me to request to take her photo to which she yielded consistent with Benjamin’s affirmation that a request for a photo from a  girl would not be denied;

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P.4.2 Upon seeing the duty free liquid materials Ogie bought El Salvador he was advised for which he objected lengthily  that he could not handcarry the same and the same will just be checked in;

P.5 Upon arriving at the LA airport and realizing that Ogie was not with me once more I requested  the other wheelchaired passengers who would move in groups  to await for a while my brother;

P.5.1 After the lapse ten(10)minutes the other wheelchair passengers felt restless prompting me to say that we should already proceed;

P.5.2 I felt frustrated for the unjustified delay of Ogie as it  was to his benefit to join the wheel chaired group as it would likewise facilitate his US  entry through the immigration officers of Los Angeles;

P.5.3 Having entered with ease the entry to the US  and thereafter having retrieved my bags I waited once more for the  just on time appearance of Ogie thus prompting one Filipina working in the airport to advise that it was illegal on my part to be lingering inside the custom and immigration areas and that there would be a strong possibility that I could  be the object of rigid inspection for acting suspiciously;

P.5.4 After waiting for one(1) hour he showed up and that when we were entering custom the assigned Custom personnel  found out through Ogie’s declaration that we came from Cuba where I told him beforehand not to state  anything related to Cuba because of the absence of good relationship between Cuba and US consistent with  the caveat during our orientation in Manila;

P.5.4.1 He told me that he felt it safer to tell the truth although it was explicit during our orientation in Manila we were cautioned not to say anything related to  our visit to Cuba;

P.5.5 As an offshoot of his declaration the Custom personnelinquired from us whether or not we had  Cuban cigars in the baggage to which I said I had five(5)as I could not lie anymore;

P.5.5.1 The Customs personnel mandated me to open all my  bags big and small which consumed almost one(1) hour;

P.5.5.2Although there were still many items still to be unpacked,the Custom personnel had  found onlytwo(2) cigars so far  thus  he  told Ogie with an angry look  to bring back the cluttered contents to their respective bags;

P.5.5.3 He said that this would be a final warning and that next time we would be sent to jail for twenty(20) years for illegally smuggling Cuban cigars;

P.5.5.4 Thereafter he inputted many  things to his  monitor symbolic to somehow manifest  that the US  was truly mad at people coming from Cuba;

P.5.5.5 Ittook another fifteen(15) minutes before he said we could finally go;

P.5.5.6 The time and motion evaluation from the time Ogie caused the delay took almost two(2) hours thus upon being given the go signal we hurriedly with bated breath requested my wheelchair attendant to bring us to the disability transportation that would bring us to another terminal to catch up with the flight from LA to Hongkong through CX  27 leaving at 115 and arriving at the destination at 0700 on September 26,2013;

P.5.5.7 In retrospect I experienced being left behind in the past  LA for not being able to arrive on time at the Gate due to the difficulty of awaiting for the shuttle to the right terminal where the desired Gate is situated;

P.6Upon arrival at the terminal where our Gate was situated I gave a tip to the driver of the disability truck for not causing a repetition of my previous experience;

P.6.1 I was thankful that due to time constraint  my wheelchair attendant was able to somehow to facilitate our entry  through  the hordes of people queuing up from the check in counter to immigration  and thereafter to the custom and security authorities (where my laptop containing the forty(40) page report to be reported at the PPTF Board Meeting after my arrival in Manila would be separately inspected) and thereafter to the maze of passages before finally reaching the Gate for departure to Hongkong;

P.6.1 My wheelchair attendant expressed alarm that he could not find Ogie who was to accompany us as he could get lost and failed to take the flight because of the complexity of reaching our Gate;

P.6.2 I told God that “Dear Lord,why is this happening and why could he not finally get along with me to facilitate our movements? I leave to you Lord I am physically exhausted and that this could be the Tenth(10th)anxiety I am experiencing.”;

P.6.2.3 Upon safely bringing me to the Gate the wheelchair attendant bidded goodbye;

P.6.2.4 After a few minutes he came back tagging along Ogie and after  expressing satisfaction that everything now was in order he biddedgoodbye once more;

P.7 Upon arrival in Hongkong as we thereafter   proceeded through  for our flight under CX 919 to Manila  I was confronted  with the Eleventh(11th) and biggest anxiety upon  the realization that my red  laptop containing my forty(4O)page report  which I intermittently  and laboriously inputted during the preceding two(2) week  journey during spare timesfor the PPTF meeting was not there;

P.7.1 Ogie gave me assurance that he did not leave anything when the Custom personnel requested him to restore back the contents to the bags;

P.7.2 Upon arrival in Manila I prayed hard that the red laptop would be unearthed in the big  baggage but despite unveiling  and removing all the thingsin the big baggage the most important thing was simply  not there;

P.7.2.1I  developed cold sweat on how Icould I possibly retrieve or remake  the report which I did in two(2) weeks as the meeting would take place at the PPTF Office in two(2) days;

P.7.2.2Allow me to say that this travel is one of a kind for the endless lapses and surprises until arrival;

P.7.3  Thank you  Lord for allowing me to complete once more the journey and for giving me strength to withstand the rigors of this trip;

P.7.4 I am happy to however to report that through the help of   Lee I was able to retrieve the red laptop and is  now in my possession as a sentimental reminder that after the prolonged storm there  is calmness.;

Thank you,Lord.

 

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