DISCOVERING STRATEGIC SPANISH FORTRESSES IN THE NEW WORLD
by Troy Herrick
In the 17th century, gold, silver and other treasures flowed into Spain like water from its overseas empire. Other European powers like Britain and Holland took careful notice of this wealth and commissioned privateers to “occasionally interrupt” the stream of treasure-laden galleons. The stakes were high and Spain had to protect its interests from the real “Pirates of the Caribbean” like Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins and Laurenz de Graaf. Dutch pirate Piet Heyn was particularly successful in capturing 90 tons of gold and silver, which was worth far more than a king’s ransom.
SANTO DOMINGO – THE CITY OF FIRSTS
by Troy Herrick
Echoes of clanking armor, clashing swords and horse’s hooves conjure up images of Spanish conquistadors as you stroll along the cobblestone pathways of Santo Domingo’s old center. Amidst this 500 year old backdrop you can almost envision yourself setting off to discover new worlds with the likes of Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro.
ARUBA: A Happy Island
by Susmita Sengupta
“Bon bini.” This lyrical, unusual word greeted me and my family at Queen Beatrix International Airport at Oranjestad, Aruba where we had arrived for a short vacation. Bon bini means welcome in the Papiamento language, one of four languages that are commonly spoken in this Caribbean island. The official language is Dutch while English and Spanish are also widely spoken.
HEMINGWAY’S HAUNTS IN HAVANA, Cuba
by Taylore Daniel
Wandering between Hemingway’s two favorite pubs and the hotel he lived in for seven years, it becomes clear that although he traveled extensively, he liked rambling within a small radius when he was in Havana. Both of his regular watering holes were within a five minute walk of his hotel.
“INDIANA JONES” AND THE LOST KINGDOM OF THE SUBMERGED CROCODILE: Belize
by Troy Herrick
Get ready for your own “Indiana Jones-type” of adventure with a visit to the Mayan city of Lamanai whose name translates as “Submerged Crocodile”. Not only is a visit to this archeological site worthwhile but the journey there is as much of an adventure as the destination itself.
HACIENDA PUERTO LIMON: Tayuticha, Costa Rica
by Mary Ann Olson
Every year, thousands of coffee lovers flock to the Hacienda Puerto Limon Plantation to see how one of the world’s finest organic coffees is harvested and processed. And for a bonus, visitors get to walk amongst some of the most tranquil countryside in the world and explore a historic hacienda.
A JOURNEY TO THE TOBACCO FIELDS IN VIÑALES: Cuba
by Megan Kennedy
As I look out onto the Viñales Valley and into the tobacco fields below, a sense of calmness washes over me. Founded in 1875, following the expansion of tobacco cultivation in Cuba, Viñales became a World Heritage site in 1999. The valley is devoted to agriculture, mainly tobacco.
A VISIT TO AN ANCIENT MINING TOWN: Benalmádena, Spain
by Ana Ruiz
Nearly 3000 years ago, the Phoenicians were interested in Benalmádena for its rich mining resources. Today, Benalmádena is divided into three regions; the typically charming old village of Benalmádena Pueblo, the residential, working town of Arroyo de la Miel, and the posh beach resort of Benalmádena Costa.
THE JEWEL OF THE ATLANTIC
Bermuda - by Ana Ruiz
As the plane was beginning its descent, I couldn't help but notice how small the islands were, even as they were getting bigger as we were getting closer. The islands of Bermuda actually comprise one of the smallest territories in the world. We were greeted by a Calypso band of seven musicians that immediately got us into the tropical island mood.
THE BRITISH INFLUENCE
Barbados - by Nina Koo-Seen-Lin
A winter holiday to the beautiful island of Barbados is always a joy - a chance to escape from the humdrum of our everyday routines and those never-ending mundane hours in the office. But don’t be too surprised to find a home from home waiting for you in the sun! Apart from the weather Barbados has a few similarities to Britain.
FROM CANADA TO THE CARIBBEAN, A QUEST TO FIND THE THUNDERBIRD
Serendipity! An invitation to Bermuda! I could continue my voyage of discovery - following the journey of the Thunderbird flying from the mast of HMCS Quesnel, the corvette that served in the Battle of the Atlantic during World War Two.
BETWEEN THE BEACHES AND THE BARRIO
While all of Cuba is dripping with historical significance, there are few better examples of the rich and colourful history of the island than Trinidad de Cuba. The expeditionary Diego Velazquez founded Santisima Trinidad (Most Holy Trinity) in 1514. The city was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
HOW TO BECOME A DIVE INSTRUCTOR
At 23, Tina Doran is doing what many young travel addicts have contemplated at one time or another – pursing a career in diving. After college she moved to Spain to complete her Divemaster certification in cold waters of Marbella. We discussed the practicalities of becoming a dive instructor to find out how a dream job can become a reality.
THE SPICE ISLAND
Grenada - by Larry Zeletel
Grenada was one of the ports of call during a cruise our cruise ship made in 1978 shortly before the 1979 communist revolution. The ship was only in port for a short time period so I didn’t have a chance to really see and explore the island, but recently I was lucky enough to return. Grenada is known as the “Island of Spice” and produces 1/3 of the world’s nutmeg.
Cuba smells of cigar smoke and guava. The rich, earthy smell of cigars assails you as soon as you step off the plane, as portly airport officials smoke Cuba’s finest. The guava takes longer to place. It’s juicy, pink flesh and tart taste accompanying almost every meal. But Cuba also smells like history, like revolution, hardship and triumph.
A CULTURAL ADVENTURE
So much has written about the crumbling decadence, the poverty and third-worldness of Cuba that it is impossible for an artist to perform or visit the country without any fears and preconceived notions. I would turn tables on deprivation and use our band’s first performance in Cuba to introduce our music to the land that gave birth to the ”Bay of Pigs.”
A STEP BACK IN TIME
Whenever we asked someone where to go in Cuba, they would invariably exclaim “You MUST go to Viñales!” When we asked why, the replies were seldom convincing. Words like “beautiful, rural, quaint and restful” were used. While these were admirable attributes, they didn’t really convey the unique charm of this little town near the western tip of Cuba.
THE SIREN OF BARRA DE NAVIDAD
I have recently taken a mistress, a bewitching, beguiling siren. My siren is a small part of the Pacific Ocean that roars eastward onto a long, curving arc of golden beach whose southern end is occupied by the quaint, west coast Mexican town of Barra de Navidad.
DISCOVERING A TREASURE IN ST. THOMAS
The Virgin Islands
Climbing the 99 steps towards Black Beard’s Castle in the center of Charlote Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas, my eyes met with an unexpected sign
World Amber Museum and a tiny arrow underneath. Naturally, my curiosity was aroused and I followed the arrow to find out what it was all about.
HISTORIC HAVANA, INDEPENDENT CUBA
Before arriving in Havana on a warm January evening I thought modern day Cuba was held together as a country by socialism, with the deteriorating health of Fidel Castro threatening its identity and survival. By the time I left Havana three days later I realised that modern Cuba is as much about history and its long fight for independence as it is about the current government and its policies.
NEW YEAR’S IN THE NEW WORLD - A CUBAN SAFARI
Bariay Bay, Cuba
Today is New Year’s Eve, the most important national holiday in Cuba, as on January 1, 1959 the dictatorial government of General Batista was overthrown. This year, 2009, thus holds particular meaning the 50th anniversary of the Revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. But today I am seeking a place of much older historical significance.