Friday, December 30, 2011

Final Fantasy

As we say goodbye to 2011 we feature this carioca, Zeta. Thus completing our fantasies from A to Z. Guess we'll start again in 2012!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Weekend

We take a break this weekend to celebrate Christmas. Enjoy this rendition of "When Christmas Comes" by one of my favorite internet celebrities, B. Scott.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Activist Dies

Sonia Pierre, a human rights activist who bravely fought discrimination against poor Dominicans of Haitian descent since she was a child, died Sunday, according to colleagues. She was 48. The renowned activist died outside of the municipality of Villa Altagracia while being rushed to a hospital after suffering a heart attack around noon Sunday, said Genaro Rincon, a lawyer who works with Pierre's Dominican-Haitian Women's Movement.

Pierre's chronic heart troubles were first discovered in 2007 when she was in Washington to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award honoring her work securing citizenship and education for Dominican-born ethnic Haitians.

Through the decades, her activism made her the target of threats in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, but it earned her recognition from overseas as a fierce defender of human rights, including an award from Amnesty International in 2003.

Pierre was one of 12 children raised in a dirt-floor barrack in a Dominican migrant worker camp and was just 13 when she was first arrested and threatened with deportation for leading her fellow Dominican residents of Haitian descent in a march for cane cutters' rights.

Since then, Pierre tirelessly fought to secure citizenship and education for the beleaguered minority of Dominican-born ethnic Haitians.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Can We Talk?

It is said that honest, open conversation helps keep relationships strong. I suppose then that the same is true regarding all relationships, whether with friends, family or lovers.

On today, World Aids Day, let's have a discussion with those we love about the ravages of HIV/AIDS in poverty stricken countries and how some governments choose to turn a deaf ear to those who cry for help because the powers that be cast moral judgment rather than show biblical compassion.

Be sure to mention how even in the U.S. there is an alarming number of cases of new infections, particulary in minority communities and among younger age groups. Unfortunately this is the demographic that is often overlooked and underserved.

This generation may not have been witness to the ugliness that was AIDS in the late 80's. Be not deceived, that same horror still dwells among us. We just don't see it plastered all over the media anymore. Young urban teens who don't reveal their positive status because of fear of being stigmatized are dying a hard and lonely death, not taking meds and not getting treatment.

Simply because the perception is that a positive status isn't as bad as it once was, many people risk engaging in unprotected sex. "If I get it I'll just take the meds." Sure AIDS is not the immediate death sentence it was in the early years we knew about it. But I'm sure those living with it will tell you it ain't no picnic either! And as mentioned before, most people in certain communities are not having dialogue about HIV/AIDS.

So, on today when you encounter a loved one or even someone you've seen around the way just pull them aside and say "Can we talk?"

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Forbidden Nation

An experience shared by Jetta Bates

Our first night in Cuba was spent at Havana's Hotel Ambos Mundos, an eclectic accommodation built in the late 1920's. The rooms were sparse yet comfortable. The hotel also offered a rooftop brunch. I endured a couple of sideways looks when I first stepped through the door; Cubans are not welcome in hotel lobbies or the rooms (unless they work there), but as soon as I began to speak those frowns turned upside down and a cocktail materialized.

Cuba does not accept US credit cards and has stopped the circulation of American currency, we deposited our funds into TransCard, a global debit card that allows you to withdraw money from the bank or use directly at retailers and hotels for purchases. What we did not take into account was Cuba's poor telephone infrastructure, which temporarily leaves banks unable to connect to other off-island banking institutions to verify funds. We were only scheduled to stay a day in Old Havana, so we packed our pockets with food from the buffet since we were not sure where our next meal would come from. We then began hoofing it with luggage in tow to our next destination.

Upon arrival we explained our situation to our hosts, I felt tears welling up. They fed, watered and gave us a simple, cool room in which to take a well-deserved nap. A couple of days later we had access to our money and we hit Old Havana with gleeful abandon, shopping in the shops by Plaza de la Catedral.

There are two economies, one for tourists (Cuban Convertible Peso, which is almost equal to the US dollar) and one for citizens (Cuban Peso). Necessities are far less expensive for Cuban nationals, but the underground market is thriving as other, higher-value currencies are desired. The hustle is alive and well.

Cubans are curious about visitors, asking if we were Dominican, Canadian or European. Eyes brighten when they discover you're American.

We visited El Guajirito, a restaurant recommended by our hosts. It was a small, family run restaurant specializing in authentic local cuisine. The rest of our time was action-packed; we enjoyed an exotic, high-energy show at Club Tropicana, took a Havana city tour and visited the home of a Cohiba cigar roller. We flew in a beautiful new jet to Cayo Largo, the second largest island in the chain of islands surrounding Cuba. Only a handful of resorts there.

Once back in Havana we rented a car and visited Che Guevara's grave in Santa Clara, swam in the Rio San Juan and had the freshest chicken at Hotel Casa Del Campesino.

It was difficult for us to leave. Each city had a story to tell. There was a real sense of kinship and I felt more welcome and connected to the people there than I have in certain US cities. My hope is that no matter what happens, Cuba keeps her heart.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

US Voting Rights?

Puerto Ricans chances of winning a right to vote in US elections are as close now as at any time in American history.

A First Circuit Court of Appeals decision has set up the conditions needed for the Supreme Court to review the possibility of voting rights for Puerto Rico's four million people.

The issue has arisen previously in the federal courts but never when there was a Supreme Court justice of Puerto Rican ancestry and presidential candidates were working so hard to win hispanic votes.

Puerto Ricans hold American citizenship and can vote in presidential primaries, but not in general elections. There is a Puerto Rican delegate to Congress now but he cannot vote on legislation.

President Obama has pledged to support "a clear decision" by the people of Puerto Rico on statehood. About half of Puerto Ricans support statehood. Most others prefer commonwealth status to protect their cultural identity.

Tom Ramstack for AHN

Monday, October 03, 2011

Vacation Planning 101

Be sure to visit the Travel Info Page for helpful tips when planning your vacation to the Dominican Republic. Click on the ads for great deals!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fin de Semana

To finish out my vacation week of posts of Dominican hotties I am featuring a screen cap of one of my favorite Cam4 guys. Cam4 has many latin and hispanic members.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Caribbean 2 For 1

St. Martin/St. Maarten is the smallest island in the world shared by two countries, France and the Netherlands. They have different languages, currencies, traffic patterns, food, styles of dress, electrical systems and even phone systems. So, you really get two experiences for the price of one. What they share in common is beautiful terrain-mountains, rolling hills, valleys and stunning white sand beaches.

The St. Martin side offers a more laid-back vacation, with colorful craft and food markets, festive beach and street parties, water sports, ecotourism and fabulous food.

The St. Maarten side offers a more active tourism experience: you can spend an afternoon power-shopping in boutiques amidst cruise ship day trippers and party with the locals at fancy clubs and bars well into the wee hours of the night, or explore the casinos.

You can literally adventure as you please. The island is only 37 square miles and there is no border control, fences or checkpoints. St. Martin/St. Maarten is also the perfect hub for island hopping with Anguilla and St. Barts, only a US$15 ferry ride away.

St. Martin has rightfully earned its title as the "culinary capitol of the caribbean," with its Afro-Caribbean cuisine, its fabulous French food and wine, as well as its original fusion cuisines from the 98 nationalities that live in St. Martin. You must visit Loterie Farms Hidden Forest Cafe or stop by Bellevue Farms, a Rastafarian organic farm/kitchen/market.

Gay Life: while it remains discreet at times it can be wild at other times. There's a gay beach and guesthouses and bars. American and European gays have established residences here. Try the Eros Club. Villa Rainbow is a gay guesthouse at the top of the island. Of note is the Tuesday night street festivals in the beachside village of Grand Case. Every fifty yards or so is another band playing amid arts, crafts, rum, food and trinkets.

Moderate hotels are Hotel Love in Grand Case and Palm Court in Orient Bay. A budget spot is Centrihotel in Marigot. Carnaval is spectacular the week of Ash Wednesday. You can manage quite well if you only speak english, but most people on the island are tri-lingual. The official language is French.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dance Craze

Os Prostituto, the song and dance, has exploded all throughout latin America.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Vacation Planning 101

Be sure to visit the Travel Info Page for helpful tips when planning your vacation to the Dominican Republic. Click on the ads for great deals!