Past to Present From Here to There

By: Joni G

Mexico City ~ Guatemala ~ Peru

A Journey Through Time...
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Mexico City- April 24th, 2013

Day 1- 11:48 AM- So... how did this whole Mexico City trip come about? As soon as I got back from my trip to Singapore, I had an ambition to go to another major city with such rich history, agriculture, government, and especially culture. Whether your idea of vacation is sipping cold cola at a resort on the Yucatan Peninsula, sightseeing through ancient Aztec or Mayan archeological ruins, or testing your limits by sampling a spicy taco from one of the cities' local food carts. A visit to Mexico engraves every traveler with enduring memories. This far-reaching Latin American country is rich in history and culture and its people are proud and passionate about everything from their traditions and festivals to their love of football (soccer).

It's about 1:30 PM and I am pumped! After exiting the airport, the places and landmarks I wanted to visit jumbled in my mind. As my tour guide bus took me to my hotel, Ramada Aeropuerto Mexico. I could see the expressiveness of Mexico's culture. People were dancing, cooking, and interacting with one another. I tried to enjoy the scenery, but as I took a deep breath of air. I wafted up polluted smog, since of Mexico City's high altitude, smog was very common in the area. I've always had a strange interest in government buildings. Many of which that I saw, had looked very old, and was built with historical architecture. One building I had saw, had refreshed my memory from what I studied in school. It was so beautifully structured. The trim of the building was designed with fine carving. I had remembered that this was a government building, and that it had a fascinating history. I was hoping that I would be able to visit the amazing building tomorrow after getting some rest. But while I still had some daylight left. I had decided to roam around the hotel area, popping in and out of the several museums and historic buildings before going to bed.

Day 2, April 25, 2013- 6:30 AM- I had decided to get an early head start to the morning. I was awakened by the mouthwatering aroma of rich Mexican cuisine being cooked in the hotel kitchen. After I had grabbed a quick bite, I hit the road. The trip to the National Palace ended up being a lot longer than I expected. And I had some pocket money, so I decided to make a few stops to farmers markets and gift shops finding that the tax rate was a little higher than expected. The Federal and State Government both have power to decrease and increase tax. So I guess they decided to increase the tax this month. I finally got there after a slow 20 minutes. I walked up the tall narrow stairs, I could faintly hear the local market and shopping stalls opening for business. I was fascinated by the layout of the ginormous building. This building was actually a Federal Government building that housed many government representatives. I was puzzled by the several murals hung around the interior walls of the building. There were plaques that said Diego Rivera had made these murals to represent the many important events that happened in Mexico City. The National Palace, better known as the Palacio Nacional, had its liberty bell rung after independence on September 16th, 1810.

As I walked around, admiring the fine work, a man walked next to me, and got lost in the elaborate piece. I casually turned to my shoulder to introduce myself, but I noticed that this wasn't just any average joe. It was Marcelo Ebrard the mayor of Mexico City! I had a very easy conversation with him, but his accent was a little hard to understand. He explained that this was quite an important building to the government, because it had some sentimental value from its history. We had both talked and talked for hours about the amazing history of Mexico City.

3:45 PM- I really enjoyed the trip to Mexico City. The long ride back to the hotel was AMAZING! So many people came out of their houses to enjoy each others company. Everyone hung up lights and wore elegant costumes and elaborate masks. The energy that people were sharing seemed to transfer into my body making me hum the jazzy tune to their music. I was right, Mexico City was amazing!

Guatemalan Civil War- December 13th, 1938

Right now I am in excruciating pain. I had just been brutally hurt on my right thigh, and upper torso. It isn't easy fighting in a war. I am part of the communist rebels. How did I get here in the first place? On November 16th, 1966, I was sound asleep. The civil war had already stretched to two years long. My family and I didn't expect to be captured, and especially this violently. Army troops knocked down our door, and tied up my mother, and my two little sisters. As the men in the house tried to free them and run away. Troops caught us one by one, and strangled us to the ground. They had to practically carry us to their vehicle where they went to find more men. We drove for hours from sundown to sunup. Picking up man after man every thirty minutes. From every neighborhood, area, and region. After reaching the military base unit, we were put under strict military practice before being put out in the war field. We trained for three months, learning how to assemble weapons, survive long hiking routes to different bases, firing guns at the range, and how to locate our enemies. These three months was the toughest and hardest I had ever worked in my life. If we didn't do the amount of push-ups needed to get breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we wouldn't be able to eat. If we cheated during our training drills, we would have to do double the amount needed. Then on the last day of training, the military leaders had long lectures and speeches, about how the war was going to be brutal and nasty. In these exact words, the troops said, "It ain't gonna be pretty, its gonna be sad. You see your one and only friend die in the field. Piled up against all the others. But you men better buff up, because this ain't a game, this is war".

After all of that hard work, our group of soldiers were put into field. My friend Paul, had died right before my eyes. Paul was a good man, he helped me survive those hard months of training. We both had each others back. As we were aiming for firing, he was shot in the side, and slowly died. I couldn't bare to see the pain, so I was moved to sit behind the computer and locate enemies. After a year of this, more soldiers came in to help. The general Efraín Ríos Montt, had decided to put me back on field. That's where the terrible things started happening.

Women that were captured were killed along with their infants. Many babies died of severe head injury and abuse. As I ran beside a man struggling to get a grip of a women with her two daughters. I noticed that it was mother, Lisa, and Joann. Horrible thoughts trembled through me, so I put down my gun, and rushed to help them. Using a technique I had mastered from training, I managed to free them, and help them back into shelter. When I got back to my gun, I swiftly turned around to see a man pointing his rifle at me. I took my shot and ran for it, he seemed to have been fine, so he fired at me. I have fighting in this tiresome war for two years. We not only fought for our rights and freedom, we fought for land. This was the exact reason why the Mayans started the war with the Guatemalan Army, they wanted land and freedom and rights. When one man came down, another came charging in. I had fought against the left-winged government side.

The conditions we have to bare in the army is terrible. With only about five hours to sleep. Soldiers have to wake up at four in the morning to get our breakfast and prepare for our shift to go into field. The food it often preserved vegetables and meat. Worst of all, the medical help is outrageous. Most people who only have a minor wound, ends up dying from lack of medical help. Luckily for me, when I was hurt, I was around the medical tent. So it was easy to shout for help. All the nurses with few resources and materials could do. Is tightly wrap the wound of my leg and torso with gauze. My injury was too serious, so the military sent me back home. I wasn't able to end the war with a victory from the communist rebels. But I did have on of the most extraordinary experiences in my entire life!

Peru- May 3rd, 2013

Day 1-11:58 AM- It is quite interesting that I chose Peru out of all the other amazing countries in South America. Its not that Peru is bad, but its that I'm so curious why I chose Peru to study their geography and how it can effect the economy. Once I landed in Peru, my eyes were mesmerized by the thick forest that almost completely covered two-thirds of the country. Sadly it was raining, but it wasn't a shock, since heavy rainfall is very common in Peru. So I really couldn't do much, but I did some sight seeing in my tour guide bus. The tour guide recommended El Indio Feliz Restaurant Bistro. The food was an amazing mix of French and Peruvian cuisine. When I walked into the friendly looking restaurant, I was drowned by the most extraordinary dishes with delightful aromas. The three course meal, came as a divine treat to my lunch, and was priced perfectly. I was so glad that my tour guide had recommended such a fine dine restaurant.

3:39 PM- After going around the area, I was definitely tired out. After the rain had came to a short stop. I had seen many plantations, fishing ports, factories, and mining fields that was perfect for Peru's excellent economy. It put a smile to my face, that there were so many people spending time outside either fishing, farming, or exporting goods to help build their economy. I wanted to spend more time outside, but it was way too humid, and if I didn't check into my hotel, my room would have been taken to some other tourist. I got on another tour bus to my hotel. The tour guide was of course an excellent help to me, to find where I needed to go in the morning. As we drove, I could really prove my theory, of Peru being covered in thick forests. The ride to my hotel, Machu Pichhu Sanctuary Lodge, was rather stomach churning. Since most of the land was covered by forest, the road as like a maze trying to go around each bundle of trees.We had to go left and right, side to side, backwards and forwards. I was relieved that the curvy road came to an end, and the hotel was pleasant looking to the eye.
8:48 PM- After eating dinner, I mentally attempted to plan out my amazing journey for tomorrow.

May 4, 2013- 8:10 AM- I had a delightful breakfast filled with eggs, sausage, fruits, and a fresh glass of orange Juice! Since I was already in Machu Picchu, I decided to go for a climb! I had hiked to Huanya Picchu (Wayna Picchu) to be one of the 400 people to visit this spiritual and breathtaking attraction.
10:52 AM- I was really exhausted from the workout, but in the end, I felt great. I had also been to the Inca Trail for a hike, and to Sayacmara for a tour of the ancient ruins. Most of the attractions I went to were buzzing with foreign tourists. All these tourists helped the economy, by bring money and good things to buy or spend when on vacation. I also took note that many attractions were ancient ruins or a landmark for physical interaction, by either climbing, hiking, or sightseeing. Tourism is one of the many profit bringing industries that help the economy.

12:11 PM- I took a cab to a restaurant that me lunch. On my way there, I saw several of subsistence farms and fisher markets. I had done my research and found out that fishing and farming is two of the most important industries in Peru. I'm so glad to have been able to book a hotel at an amazing hotel in Machu Picchu. It is such a holy and well spiritual place. Machu Picchu holds some of the important supply of agriculture goods. And it is around mineral mines! I really hope that I can be able to visit Peru again, as a relaxing vacation, because even though I was researching, I had a splendid time in Peru!

Brazil- May 18th, 2013

Day 1- 7:00 AM- One of the world’s most captivating places, I get to travel to Brazil. Brazil is South America’s giant, dazzling country of powdery white-sand beaches, clean rain forests and wildlife, and toe tapping metropolises. Brazil’s attractions extend from enchanting colonial towns to dramatic landscapes of red-rock canyons, thundering waterfalls and serene tropical islands. Add to that, Brazil’s culture is one of a kind. Its been my goal, to go to Brazil. Ever since my brother came back from Brazil, I would always make him repeat the same stories of his journey through their rich culture. I was ambitious to go to Brazil myself, and try to live the same emotions and excitement from my brother's trip. This time, I went with my really good friend from school, Nicole! As we boarded the plane, we couldn't help but over hear the very loud conversation between the couple. The sweet looking woman looked worried and complained to the man. The man grunted in irritation, and looked like he was about to burst. The woman kept on repeating, "We MUST get a gift for Aunt Susan. The last time Richy forgot to bring a gift, Susan, she was furious with him until he finally remembered to give her one. Don't forget to be 30 minutes late to the evening dinner, and on Friday we have a large gathering so we should get there at least and hour late." Nicole and I looked at each other with confusion. We were going to meet Sally's family for dinner tomorrow, and we didn't have a present, we have a party as well, but it doesn't seem right to show up late. After the long flight was over, we both had a lot of research to do.

Day 2- 4:55 AM- After lugging our luggage's around the international airport. It was really humid, and really hard to find a cab to bring us to our hotel. Since it was really early in the morning, we were both very impressed that so many people woke up early to get to work, and it was a weekend! Farmers started plowing, miners started digging, and lumberjacks started sawing. I saw many buff men start the day by greeting each other with a slap on the back, or a firm handshake. All of the women took a more subtle approach, and kissed each other on the cheek from left to right. Some of the more manly women, extends their arm out to the men first, before shaking their hand. Nicole and I were lucky to get a cab driver that spoke English, because most of the population only spoke Portuguese with little knowledge of how to speak English or any other language. The only other people I saw that didn't speak Portuguese, was the Japanese, South Korean, and other foreign tourists. Nicole and I were really hungry, so we asked the taxi driver about what is a good restaurant that serves breakfast. He had recommended Café das Ruinas. The café is housed within the grounds of Parque das Ruinas,and offers stunning views or the Guanabara Bay to Sugar Loaf mountain. The other good thing about this bistro, is that it was only 2 minutes away from our hotel, Mama Ruisa.

9:25 AM- Nicole and I had been planning to go to the Rios de Historia Cultural and Historical Tour for weeks! Another great thing about booking a hotel in Rios de Janeiro, is that so many things are around to site see. After we had an amazing tour, it was time for us to head back to the hotel to get something to eat for lunch. Brazil's cuisine is so elaborate, but so comforting to the taste buds. The mix of African, Portuguese, and Brazilian Indian cooking makes Brazil's dishes divine.

4:10- Nicole and I hung around the hotel, going into the exercise room, down to the lobby for a snack, and watching with the biggest television network systems in the world. After is was half past four, Nicole and I were lightly laughing at the couple's argument. Until we realized that we had to find a gift ourselves. We both rushed into the hotel gift shop, but nothing seemed reasonable or a reasonable price. So we had to hurry to the nearest shopping mall to get good gifts.

6:55- It was only 5 minutes till it was the dinner. Nicole and I thought that we were doomed, it never sets a good impression it your late to a dinner. Until we remembered that couple yelling at each other. It was alright to be 30 minutes late to a dinner. and and hour late to a party. So we hurried to purchase our gifts, so that we could scurry off and get ready. And getting ready meant looking prim and proper so you don't look too out of place.

7:45- We hurried to sit down, as we had made a rude entrance into the dinner. As a quick apology, we handed Sally, her father, and her mother their gifts. Nicole and I were very anxious about the last minute gifts we had bought them. Sally opened her present first, she held it up to the air and hugged it to death. It looked like she enjoyed the stuffed animal we had bought her. Next was her father, he carefully opened the box, and inside was a mug, there was a smile left on his face. Last but not least, was Sally's mother. She looked very stern and was actually frightening me in the inside. She very neatly opened her present, which was a delicately made ceramic plate, and she stared at it for a minute. She absolutely adored it! Nicole and I were relieved that that drama was over. We could finally enjoy our dinner. Sally's family has ordered a classic, feijada. A rich stew with exquisite seasonings, its the National dish of Brazil. One large pot was enjoyed by the whole table, as we all laughed into the night. Brazil has a really interesting culture, I'm not really sure if that's good, or bad, but all that I can say. Is that feijada is pretty good!