Latin America Travel Journal

Journal Entry 1

Deep in the Valley of Mexico is where they said that the Aztecs lived. I am a Spanish conquistador and my name is Inigo Montoya. We are all here to get gold, claim land, and rid the land of the natives. Once we defeat the Aztecs we will get mountains of gold! As soon as we hit the shore of Mexico, we set about claiming land as we went. I only hope that I can return home to a hero's welcome. We have arrived at the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan. A Nathual speaking man and I were sent into the city to study the natives. Nathual is the language the Aztecs speak. My partner was quite worried that we would be found out. If we were found out we would surely be sacrificed to the Aztec gods. The Aztecs sacrifice about one person a day. It is getting more difficult every day to conceal my true identity. I have learned quite a few things about their culture. The Aztecs farm on floating beds of soil and wood. The Aztecs are also great architects because they have built many large stone temples. Gold is plentiful in market places. I managed to steal one or two gold coins. The Aztecs also have created their own caste system like ours. Highest is nobility, then merchants and finally laborers at the bottom. In about an hour this whole city will be burned to the ground. Cortez's army of Spaniards and natives are marching towards the city after defeating the main army.

It is now after Cortez's attack. The Aztecs were doing what appeared to be a ritual to save them from their impending doom. I am amazed that Cortez was able to beat all of the Aztecs. It is very sad to see a whole civilization destroyed by an outside force. No one was spared. The Aztecs thought Cortez was a god and he was punishing them for something. Cortez personally stabbed their king. After that, the empire dissolved. This is a sad day in history.

Journal Entry 2

I am a reporter for the Wall Street Journal heading for Cuba. My last stop was in Mexico where my ancestor helped conquer the Aztecs. When I arrived in Cuba I got all sorted out and got a hotel room. In the morning I got up for my interview. Who am I interviewing you ask? I am interviewing Raul Castro, dictator of Cuba and brother of Fidel Castro. The city was bustling, but it did not seem natural- there was an odd sense of control in the air. No one was talking, just walking. Perhaps the communist system has affected the mood of the people. Dictatorships, in my opinion, are very wrong because one person should not have that much control. When a bus came to pick me up, I got in. I arrived at the dictators mansion in an hour. I sat down on the couch across from Raul Castro. I turned the recorder on and then bombarded him with questions. I was pretty angry that he lived in luxury while his people starved and lived in poor conditions. I then asked, "How good do you think your country's standard of living is?" he replied, "I think their conditions are based on how hard they work ." He stared at me ominously. I asked him more increasingly critical questions until I asked him this. I said, "How do you feel about the Cuban missile crisis?" He shut off the tape recorder looking furious. That was how I was deported from a communist country.

Journal Entry 3

Dear Diary,

I've recently acquired a lot of money and so three friends and I are on a trip to Colombia. I can't wait for what's in store for me. My sister couldn't come because she is interviewing Raul Castro in Cuba. I was told that Colombia had a fair economy. What I like about Colombia's economy is that it has a lot of potential to grow. A thing I don't like is that illegal drug operations like FARC are crushing the economy by growing and selling drugs like cocaine. This pushes out legal ways of earning a living. Another thing I don't like about Colombia is the political unrest. Ever since their independence from Spain, they have had 5o revolts and 8 civil wars. This is bad for the economy. When we arrived at the hotel, there was a tour bus waiting for us. As it turned out, we weren't going to stay in one place but travelling around the country to learn more about the economy. I'm interested in the economy here because I would like to start a drilling business here.

The first stop on our tour was a coal mine. Mining seems like an open business venture and I would like to go down that route. While we were observing the miners at their work, one of them started yelling. He had found an emerald. Emeralds can be found in Colombia. I wonder if this also might be a good business venture. One of my friends told me that Emeralds are even more rare than diamonds.

After about an hour, we left on the tour bus to our next destination. We went to see the ranchers in Colombia. The ranchers were growing two of the three main crops in Colombia - coffee and sugar cane. The guide explained to us that the third main crop was coca which is the plant that makes cocaine. Sadly, it is a very big cash crop in Colombia. Colombia has always had a large problem with drugs. The U.S. has sent navy seals to find and destroy hidden cocaine labs in the rainforest. But the drug business still seems to thrive. We had to keep moving.

Finally, at the end of our tour we came to a tacky souvenir shop. It is kind of ironic to see such a great tour end off on a low note. I bought a tiny Colombian flag to remind me of this experience and that there are a lot of business opportunities if the drug trade can be put down.

Journal Entry 4


My name is Craig Montoya, American teenager. I am being forced against my will to go on a boring "educational" tour of the Amazon. My parents are super excited and say that it will pry my eyes away from video games and into the wonders of the real world. "Whatever," I thought as the bus pulled away from the airport.

After what seemed like hours, we finally arrived at our destination. We pulled in front of what looked like an old run-down gas station and I accidentally blurted out, "This is the fantastic tour that we are taking?" Several of my fellow tourists shot me dirty looks. We got out of the bus and walked into the old shack. It was dusty but there were several posters that showed people walking on a bridge above the rainforest. I started thinking that this tour might be a wee bit dangerous. Our guide gave us a speech about bridge safety. I wasn't paying attention. I was looking at a gigantic tarantula on the outside of a window. As we walked up to the bridge, the tour guide started speaking. He asked if we knew that Brazil had the largest population of un-contacted people in the world. Three of those tribes are the Guaja, Kawina, and Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe. The Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau tribe has been known for hostile encounters with loggers and gold seekers. I think it's kind of weird that people in this day and age still don't have access to modern technology or even know about it. Think about it. No Game boy or cellphone or refrigerator. I wonder if those people would think it was magic. I guess, in a way, they kind of are magic.

As we crossed the bridge, the tour guide said the Amazon rainforest is the most species-rich location on the planet. The are about 20-40 million animals that live in the rain forest. I really think it is interesting that the Amazon rainforest is 5,500,000 Sq Km. That's huge!! While all of these facts were bouncing around in my head I saw it. Slithering on a branch close to my head was a giant green python. I yelled out and fell back. That wasn't the best move on a bridge. I looked up as the bridge got further and further away.

Thud. I woke up what seemed like hours later. Some thing was wrong, there was no bridge above my head. I also wasn't hurting after a 30 foot fall. Then the voices came. The first one said, "There has been 587,000 km sq lost to deforestation." The second voice said, " The homo sapiens have been chopping at our thick bark for 100 years." The last one said, " if this tragedy doesn't stop, the whole rainforest will be lost in 20-40 years." I stopped paying attention to the voices to see what was going on in front of me. It was as if someone had hit the fast forward button on life. Tree cutters were working at a blinding speed. Chopping down acres in seconds. Giant tree cutting machines were devouring the trees. Then I saw a clearing being made right in front of me. I saw men putting up the bridge extremely fast. Then I saw myself plummet off the bridge and into me. The impact shook me awake. I was in a hospital. My head exploded into extreme pain. My dad was sitting next to me. He said, "That was quite a fall you had there. You almost gave your mother and I a heart attack." "You have no idea," I said.

Craig Montoya grew to become the leader of the Save the Rainforest Foundation. He has saved millions of acres of rainforest from tree cutters. Thank you Craig, you have made a difference.