CUBATrek 2022


[as a preamble this is written from a United States perspective who are a minority of overall visitors to CUBA.]

This trek was dedicated to my dear friend, Dr. Esteban Dominguez Morales who passed away earlier this year.  Over the years we developed a great friendship.  He explained how he joined the revolution as a young teenager. As he gained formal education; achieving two pHD's, including one from Russia, he became a leading voice in Cuban social issues and economics.  His seminal work on race helped me immensely in better understanding the culture

My trek to Cuba (Coo-ba) just ended.  I remind those who ask the big difference between a trek and a vacation; is work and sacrifice.  Another critical element is my treks are based on a laser-focused efficient budget.  Many of you who follow my articles already know how my passion for Cuba was developed after my first visit in 2015.  The first year was simply more of a bucket-list adventure: explore the country first-hand.  Upon returning that experience led me to do more research into the culture and the history.  I discovered the book “Race in Cuba” and after reading it I had many questions.  Ever since then I committed to doing solid research on racism in Cuba and the impact of Negro League baseball in Cuba. Based on my progress I have two more treks to complete my research and then I will be able to formally publish

Going to Cuba has fascination for many. As the Caribbean’s largest country at 11 million, like many countries there are contradictions. Currently a small but notable population is fleeing the country and seeking asylum status to whatever country that will accept them. The country is dealing with issues where people must make adjustments. It is not as bad as the 1990’s when the Soviet Union collapsed resulting in them not receiving the financial support they had come to expect. From my real-life interviews that was a brutal period where people were fighting for basic survival. The current situation is tough as shortages and other sacrifices are an everyday reality.

While the Biden administration has clawed back some of the draconian measures the Trump administration implemented, those traveling from the United States must be diligent in understanding approved regulations to visit the country. At the same time I notice some are willing to take the risk and travel as a tourist doing things such as visiting beaches, visiting government run businesses and enjoying the country. They do so at their own peril because while the Cuban government may turn the other way, returning back home may result in severe questioning or imposing financial penalties. Part of the basic requirement in visiting is you must have a bullet-proof itinerary (in your possession at all times with your passport and travel visa) to document your “business.”

I missed my 2021 trek as even though Covid was simmering down, the airlines had elevated ticket prices that my pockets could not handle.  Luckily, 2022 showed greater promise as prices became more affordable.  The biggest hitch was selecting a reliable airline because there are many that claim to accommodate Cuba.  I was looking at United but at the last minute had to switch because they were having logistical issues in flying into Jose Marti International.  Luckily American offered the right combination.  LAX to Miami and then off to Havana.

I normally make my treks in November, before or after Thanksgiving so this time I needed to dedicate the entire month as we added going to Belize to witness the Garifuna Settlement celebration. Around August I had to move it into high gear and move into the final planning phase.  This was critical because going to CUBA is very fluid or everchanging as was the case with money or the value of the U.S. Dollar as well as accommodations.

My itinerary was solid as I planned for meetings, interviews and other interactions.  The focus of this trek was to visit Matanzas; San Severino Slave Castle and Palmarde Junco, which in 1874 became Cuba’s first baseball stadium. I am proud to report, even today it stands in its glory as games are still played there.  Additionally, there was much to do in Havana as well as Camaguey and then on to Santiago.  The notion of understanding racism goes back before the revolution which is why it was important for me to see the Moncada barracks as it became a pivotal moment in history. My initial goal was to travel using the updated train system but my host in Matanzas convinced me it was too perilous as schedules were unpredictable.  After acquiescing I made my journey from Havana to Santiago via the Viazul.  Below are highlights of my trek.

Tourist Visa

Assuming you meet one of the twelve categories to travel to Cuba, a tourist visa is basic documentation U.S. citizens will also need to travel.  From my experience pricing will range from $25 to $100.  Staff is generally positioned adjacent the airline you are flying to enter CUBA.  The lower prices are generally available for non-US flights. Unlike past years there is no fear by having your passport stamped by Cuban immigration or suffering the rath once you return to the U.S. and being questioned, “what were you doing in Cuba?”

Inflation

For those whining about inflation I would encourage them to visit Cuba.  As mentioned there are severe shortages of the most basic commodities.  The CUP (Cuban peso) is very fluid and fluctuates daily.  You can exchange on the informal market but like most things – Buyer beware!  In other words, you need to develop a reliable source, or the alternative is simply to exchange at Cadeca’s or banks.  During my visit the rate was ranging $1 equal 110 pesos.  My rate on the informal market was $1 to 150 pesos.  This is a tremendous benefit assuming you are comfortable doing business with the local economy, but you must ditch any resemblance as a tourist.

You will notice national products (i.e., tabac [cigars], rum, coffee and other items) can only be had with an international card.  That can spell trouble as the card is pegged almost dollar to dollar as many of the products are marked in that currency.  One thing I did notice is a few shops at the airport accept CUPs, so that is another opportunity to stretch your buying power.

Shortages

As you’re doing your research on Cuba you will discover lots of news on shortages.  They are real and for most Cubans it remains a nagging headache to wait in endless lines to try and retrieve basic goods.  The other shortage which was new during this trek was the power.  Until you witness it, it is hard to phantom.  The solution is exceptional organizing of your day as well as your resources in preserving power (mobile phones, computers, etc.)

Transportation

Trekking is not for the week and feeble.  For this trek based on my Epson smartwatch I pegged 96 miles of walking!!!!!  The rest was cabs and motorcycles (rider).  For this trip I had planned to ride the local buses, which are now 2 pesos, but logistics prevented that experience.  I journeyed from Havana to Santiago and provinces in between via the Viazul bus system.  Interestingly, locals are prevented from riding the Viazul and must travel on the national buses.  The reason I was told was because the country is trying to ramp up tourism and needs every available seat to those visiting the country. Here is the bottom-line, the country of Cuba is wide and from Havana to Santiago is about 15 hours (except flying which is prohibited from my budget). YOU MUST PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS IN ADVANCE OUTSIDE OF CUBA (online) and in my case as mentioned I was planning to take the train from Matanzas to Camaguey so I had to do some quick thinking. I contacted my daughter in the US and gave her my Viazul credentials and she was able to secure the ticket and email it to me so I could travel. The cost was:

  • Havana to Matanzas = $21
  • Matanzas to Camaguey = $31
  • Camaguey to Santiago = $21
  • Santiago to Havana = $56

So for $115 I was able to literally go across-country. Of course some chose to fly or hire private taxis. That was not my reality as I opted for the more affordable option. As stressed, this type of travel is not for everyone but for me it is perfect. It does make stops along the way. You are able to go into towns you probably never would have the opportunity to go. THERE ARE NO RESTROOMS ON THE BUS. A smart traveler will always sneak some tissue into their luggage as the custom in Cuba when there are stops is to pay to use the restroom (10 pesos). Also, it is not uncommon for the bus to pull over in the rural terrain to allow those who simply can’t wait to relieve themselves.

Internet

I surely do not come to Cuba to lay on the internet but you do need that resource for communication. The system has greatly improved in Cuba. You now have several options which include getting a sim card, getting a phone, internet cards, etc. I selected internet card and to my surprise the prices have greatly decreased. In the past it was not uncommon to pay 1:1 or with US Dollars. As an example 5 hours would cost $5. Of course some access cards on the informal market. For me I prefer to go to the Ectesa office. Expect a wait should you use this option as there is usually a line to get into the office. I waited about three hours but it was worth it as to my surprise three 5 hour cards cost 375 pesos the equivalent of $2.50 based on my exchange rate. One important thing while the service has greatly improved part of your logistics planning is to map out available hotspots based on your travels.

PHOTOS

Photos of the trek can be accessed by clicking on the appropriate link

CUBA Internet Card


I am preparing for my ’22 trek and updating various services I will need because things are very fluid in the country and changing more rapidly. One of the most important services is access to the internet. To access the internet in Cuba the two popular systems offered by the national communication company – ETECSA: You will find them all over the country and typically they work in populated areas. Also, in those areas you will find hotspots or places to connect (parks, stadiums, public places, etc.)

SIM Card

Internet Card

As mentioned some of you know CUBA is going through an inflationary period, which translates to their currency is being devalued or cost less to non-Cuban consumers. The primary currency is the CUP (pesos) and the current bank rate is 24:1, however on the blank market that price jumps 3, 4,5 times or more – but buyer beware!!!!

This is current information I received directly from Etecsa. As an example a 30 minute card is 12.50CUP or 50 cents.

PHOTOS FROM 2020 CUBA TREK

Cuban National Players in MLB v2022


This year’s edition is late but once again we note professional baseball players who hail from Cuba and are now playing in Major League Baseball (MLB). The list is compiled from those making the 40 player roster of the thirty MLB teams. Like many professional sports in the United States the rosters have become more diversified representing players from all over the globe.

Cuba has a tremendous baseball legacy. It is the national sport. It became a key topic in my journey to explore the Negro League’s presence in a country where the teams were welcomed and a strong brotherhood was created. Before the U.S. imposed embargo players and many teams took great joy to make the trek to the Caribbean’s largest country. Even though key players have departed resulting in a sharp decline of their status in World Baseball Rankings, they still pose a threat to teams that take them lightly. In the last decade they were consistently in the top 5 and currently have jumped two spots to claim the 9th position.

A critical observation of my research is posing the question – will CUBA baseball go the way of the Negro Leagues? From my perspective the answer is no because while the talent has decimated during the last decade, baseball in Cuba is a national commodity whereas the Negro Leagues were part of the African-American culture making it much easier to transition into the broader society.


A couple of notes from this year’s edition

  • The 2022 lineup totals 27 players, an increase of two.
  • American league teams have the majority of players at 17, unchanged from last year.
  • The National league has 10.
  • Surprisingly 15 teams have ZERO players.
  • Cuban National players account for approximately 2% of all players.
  • MLB escalated investing in Latin America in the early ’60’s and it is not surprising that Dominican Republic leads the pack.
  • Another important feature of this list is understanding Cuban baseball is still strong but over the years the top talent has been diluted as more players have defected or made it over to the U.S.A.


TEAMS20212022Change 2022 v 2021
Arizona Diamondbacks001
Atlanta Braves322
Baltimore Orioles130
Boston Red Sox000
Chicago Cubs000
Chicago White Sox441
Cincinatti Reds221
Cleveland Indians000
Colorado Rockies010
Detroit Tigers000
Houston Astros332
Kansas City Royals100
Los Angeles Angels101
Los Angeles Dodgers111
Miami Marlins010
Milwaukee Brewers000
Minnesota Twins000
New York Mets000
New York Yankees111
Oakland Athletics111
Philadelphia Phillies000
Pittsburgh Pirates010
San Diego Padres101
San Francisco Giants000
Seattle Mariners000
St. Louis Cardinals101
Tampa Bay Rays220
Texas Rangers121
Toronto Blue Jays110
Washington Nationals111
TOTALS25272

Whether you are a serious fan of Cuban baseball or the Negro Leagues you will find this documentary an outstanding piece to help you better understand the history. It came out in 2020 and I viewed it as part of my Amazon account.


Here is another good doc to give more perspective. The material is good but the authors appear somewhat bias towards to bitterness to the Castro regime. For me, of all the interviews and voices presented I did not count one from an Afro-Cuban perspective, but still good information to balance your thoughts. The doc is part of public broadcasting so you will need to match up your local channel and when it (if) will be shown.

Fred is a baseball historian who has studied and researched the game at length. His relationship to Cuba stemmed from understanding how the Negro Leagues operated during segregation. Further he has been able to visit many stadiums in Cuba while taking in various games. Currently his visits have escalated and allowed him to visit many landmarks as well as interview those in Cuba who understand the current dynamic as well as a historical appreciation of when the Negro Leagues were prominent and how the sport was a common denominator to bridge the communication gap.

My friend Esteban Dominguez Morales 1943-2022


Those of you who follow my writings, specifically my treks to Cuba have seen references to my dear friend Esteban Dominguez Morales.  I know him as “The Professor.”  Planning for my Cuba trek in November I just found out from his wife, Katia that he unexpectedly passed away while visiting family in Columbia.

The Professor left this world a better place and as I pen this article, I mourn his passing and praise God for allowing our lives to intersect.

Like many who have not been to Cuba, the country is known to have an intriguing appeal.  Due to the common sense approach the Obama administration fostered about developing a better relationship with Cuba, I was able to make my first trek in 2015  Planning for that trip I stopped by Eso-Won books in Leimert Park to see if there were any new titles about Cuba.  Tom pointed me to two books, and I purchased both.  One of the books “Race and Culture” seemed interesting so I set my sights on reading it once I returned.  After reading it I had many questions and reached out to the author.  Lo and behold he responded and that was the beginning of the friendship with Esteban Dominquez Morales.  Following that communication, I was determined to visit again and gain first-hand knowledge of some of the things we communicated about.  Following Obama’s term as president I had to brush up on my entry requirements since Trump took office and created ridiculous antics making it more difficult for United States citizens to visit. Luckily, I was a published author and was able to boot-leg on my credentials so that I could enter the country and safely return without suffering any penalties. With the professor’s help I was able to set my focus to study and gain a better perspective on Racism in Cuba and the Negro League’s presence in Cuba.  In creating my itinerary and scheduling time to meet various authors, activist, and other officials, including the Professor he suggested I stay at his apartment since he had a legitimate casa particulares.  That was perfect.

Over the years the Professor and I spent countless hours in his office and his home talking about the culture, the politics and other issues which were important to me. On occasions, Katia would pop in and offer input  Even though he was retired from teaching at Havana University, he agreed to take me to the campus as well as one of his meetings with the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC).  The reverence other professors gave him once they knew he was on campus was incredible.

“The surprise death of Esteban Morales pains us. We will miss his intelligent, incisive and committed assessment of the problems of our time. My condolences to his family, friends and the Cuban intelligentsia, which he gave prestige to with his work”. Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez

Esteban Dominguez Morales was a very decent person, and I am so grateful of the time we spent together.  I will cherish the memories and pray that Katia and his family recover and continue their journey in living a positive life. Thanks to them I have gained an invaluable perspective of the Cuban culture. In 2021 I was not able to make the trek as the remnants of Covid and international travel saw air travel triple if not quadruple in prices. Since then they have come down.

Eastcoasttrek ’22


For this year’s trek we decided to stretch things out. In addition to flying to our initial destination which was BWI (Baltimore-Washington International airport) our mode of getting around was Amtrak. Of course getting to/from Canada we rented a car. Once we got back to the states we opted for public transportation via metro (District of Columbia and New York City) and resorted to a lot, and I mean a lot of walking – based on our smartwatches in seven days we trekked 94.3 miles walking. Oh yeah, one confession but only due to several emergencies where time was not on our side – we opted for Uber on three occasions. Trekking is not for the weak or feeble or those who enjoy the usual comforts of travel. On the other hand our style allows us to experience many things most miss. As usual once we got back into the District of Columbia we were joined by our foodie extraordinare, Renie Hale. As we moved to New York we were joined by my sister Angela.

Countries Visited

United States

Canada

States Visited

Maryland

Connecticut

Vermont

Massachusetts

New York

Cities Visited

Springfield

Baltimore

New Haven

Colchester

Montreal

Plattsburgh

New York City

District of Columbia

Hanover

Highlights of the trek

We knew this trek would require more laser-focused planning. Our funds were limited as was our time but we were willing to move it from 5 days to 7 days. This allowed us to visit Canada, New York and some places we simply did not have time in previous treks. The highlights are goals of this trek was:

Visit Montreal

Experience the Amtrak/Acela

Go to the CITIFIELD Rotunda, home of the New York Mets

CitiField pays homage to Jackie Robinson and even though it is the home field for the New York Mets, the stadium resembles historic Ebbetts Field which is where the Dodgers played.

Visit the new Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City.

This venue just opened and luckily we timed our trek to be able to see the exterior. Luckily one of management staff saw us peering through the windows and came outside to tell us about the museum. It is easy to find and right off the “canal” street subway stop as the entrance is on Vartick Avenue.

Visit the Capitol and go to Statuary Hall to see the new statue of Dr. Bethune. This indeed was the historic highlight as it was recently installed.

This installation had been delayed for over a year due to the insurrectionist and Trump acolytes who damaged the Capitol after falling prey to Donald Trump’s hustle that the 2020 election was stolen. Anyway, there is a process to enter this sacred building. Your congressional rep must coordinate your visit and you will receive a letter (via email) granting entry. The statue of Dr. Bethune representing the state of Florida is magnificent and very historic as she replaces a confederate general (each state is allowed two statues).

TO SEE FULL CEREMONY CLICK HERE

Visit Metropolitan AME as they just recently started back to having full worship.

Built in 1838 this historic cathedral is one of our must-stops when in DC. Due to Covid they recently started in-service worship so we were blessed to be able to be in attendance.

Visit Brooklyn to see where Judith lived

Arriving in 1972 this is the spot she called home and it had been years since she last saw the property.

Visit the Goodman League at Barry Farms to see some playoff games.

The housing projects were removed four years ago but the spirit of the Goodman League remains. It is outdoor basketball at its finest and represents more than just a game played within the rectangular courts. The diversity of the community is on full display. Miles Rawls and his team bring a first-class operation for all who are bold enough to go “inside the gates” at the BF arena to take part in this cultural phenomenon.


PHOTOS these are some of the images captured – CLICK LINK

Our Foodie experience

As you can imagine burning 94 miles requires a lot of fuel so yes we did lots of eating and drinking. Some spots were our favs and of course part of trekking or globetrekking is experiencing new venues. Most are good and a few were just terrible so in fairness we attempt to communicate accuracy……..based on our perspective.

Rita’s Italian Ice

Rhode Island NE, District of Columbia

Rita’s was a great find by Renie. Even though they are franchised you will appreciate their consistency. We opted for their famous Gelati which is 1/2 Gelato & 1/2 shaved ice – refreshing and outstanding.

Ooh’s & Aah’s

5933 Georgia Ave Washington, DC 20011

Oooh’s & Aaah’s specializes in soul food or down home southern – very tasty.


Ben’s Chili Bowl

1213 U St. N.W. Washington, DC 20009

A DC institution and one of the best half-smokes to be found.


Dallas Bar-B-Que

241 W 42nd Street New York, NY 10036

Known for tasty Q and amazing cocktails. Located in Times Square a great find by Angela.


Jimmy’s Seafood

6526 Holabird Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224

Jimmy’s is a Baltimore institution known for their great crab presentations.


Cheesecake Factory at the Live in Hanover

7002 Arundel Mills Circle Hanover, MD 21076

Located in the Live Casino complex, great selections at affordable prices.


K Coffee & Bagel – 7th Avenue & 34th Street – Times Square, NY

Located across the street from the Moxy, this is a great option versus the more fancy coffee shop located next door.

Bergen Bagels

473 BERGEN STREET – Brooklyn, NY

Great options and muffins as big as your head. Plenty of variety at affordable prices.

Sylvia’s

328 Malcolm X Blvd New York, NY 10027

A Harlem institution, Sylvia’s has earned its reputation. Food is great and a nice variety of southern specialties.


Citifield Stadium

41 Seaver Way – Flushing, NY 11368

We opted for the philly cheesesteak which was very tasty and topped it off with a Brooklyn lager.

Aloha Poke

50 Massachusetts Ave NE Union Station, L027, Washington, DC 20002

A great light lunch while waiting for the train.

Legasea at the Moxy

485 7th Ave. (at 36th St.) New York, NY 10018

A bit pricey but great presentation. Now, the rolls are the best I’ve had in years.

BF Coliseum vendor

Barry Farms Housing Project – Anacostia, District of Columbia

This is one of my favs for all of those hard-working folk who bring great food to those watching games at the Barry Farms arena. Slim only serves platters and you get bang for your buck and during this trek his homestyle mac and cheese complete with his country crust made for an unbelievable meal. What a bargin for $20 bucks.

Sweet Home Café

1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560

This is a must-stop. I opted for the southern fried chicken, mac and cheese and greens.


Jab’s Ice Cream

A great change of pace. Shaved ice seemed a bit pricey but it was hot/muggy and this offering was very tasty while hitting the spot.

Alexandre et fils

1454 Rue Peel, Montréal, Qc H3A 1T5

A very nice cafe in Montreal. Service was outstanding and fish and chips was tops as was the chilled wine. The cesar salad was very tasty as it came with bacon bits.

Le Centre Sheraton

Their cafe is adequate but could use some creativity in their menu selections.

Monopole’s

This is a historic venue but they are in desperate need of some find tuning. We opted for the pizza and chicken tenders and while tasty we were disappointed of the limited menu selections or everything being one dimensional of either being fried or baked in a pizza over.

Wahlburgers

Very tasty but a bit pricey.

Café Vasco da Gama

1472 Peel St, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1S8, Canada

A great cafe and coffee bar. I was able to grab some Lily espresso sets.

Allensworth burial site


Lieutenant Colonel Allen Allensworth is buried at Angelus-Rosedale cemetery located on Washington & Normandie in the West Adams Heights community of Los Angeles.

After retiring from the military Colonel Allensworth lived in what now is the USC area of South Los Angeles. He led a group of pioneers from the area and headed to Central California with the goal to stake out a new life. Thus, in 1908 he is known for creating California’s first town which was financed and governed by African-Americans and named after him; Allensworth, CA


[postscript] Judith and I became involved in the Allensworth project in 1989. Due to low visitor-ship the State Historic park was subject for closure. After developing a relationship with Friends of Allensworth president George Finley and department staff, in 1991 we agreed to launch the first branch of Friends of Allensworth. It was located in the Los Angeles area. The first meeting was held at the Baldwin-Hills Crenshaw mall. We also became state certified docents to assist staff with interpreting Allensworth.

The issue regarding the Colonel’s burial site is interesting but being a docent-volunteer allowed us to explore circumstances of how he died. To the credit of agencies such as the State Park a lot of their interpretation is sanitized or providing as fact, yet lacking detailed information that may add a different perspective. We were able to explore the Colonel’s death and while much of written documentation will reference he died in 1914, our big question was HOW?

After impeccable research which included visiting the Monrovia library and conducting some oral interviews as well as visiting the location of the accident which eventually led to his death, we concluded it was more than a simple passing; it was a conspiracy, a murder, an assassination!

The Colonel was on his way to Shiloh Baptist church. He had just gotten off the train and was walking down Myrtle when two motorcycles ran into him. To us, that is more than just a mere passing. Again, the big questions are how and why, as big a street that Myrtle is?

more to follow……………………………………………

Eastcoasttrekv2021


Comprehensive Edition

A trek is all about adventure. It’s not about compromising comfort and resorting to renting a car, taking Uber at every turn or not going to places that might be uncomfortable. We’ve made this trek for over ten years and while the terrain may be the same we try and mix it up for new discoveries. Four states, which included Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and one district, District of Columbia comprised our Eastcoasttrekv2021.  According to my Epson exercise watch which is pretty accurate we covered a tad bit in excess of 76 miles based on walking (or the steps we took). In addition while Renie did drive us to Philly, New Jersey and Delaware, we did most of Maryland and the District of Columbia using a combination of walking, Metro (subway & bus) and very limited use of Uber out of necessity as we needed to catch the last train from Baltimore back to DC.

The annual trek is a combination of activities but the main thrust is to be in the District of Columbia on August 28th as that is the commemoration and anniversary of the March on Washington.  This year’s theme centered around voting based on the GOP’s effort to thwart participation with their myriad of voting laws designed to reduce the number of voting participants.

The biggest achievement

Each trek offers something special.  This year Marty King, III son of Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. presented his original 1963 March on Washington speech to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.  We were able to see it for ourselves on Sunday, August 29th.

Other highlights

For this trip I brought my drone and was able to capture a few scenes in Baltimore and Philly.  Of course, DC is off limits.  Also, while in Philly we went to Reading Market and visited quite a few sites as noted by the photos.

In New Jersey, our time was limited and we barely made to the famous Corrine’s Soul Food.  In Delaware we made a few pit stops before heading back to DC.

DRONE SHOTS

For those who follow us, you may recall it was during our San Jose trek that our dear friend James Bell recommended I look into getting a drone to complement my photography. After experimenting with several different models, seven weeks later I landed the DJI Mavic Air 2 drone. The only thing it is lacking is the ability to Zoom while taking video/photography. Here are a couple of clips:

Camden Yards including M & T Stadium – Baltimore, MD

Fells Point – Frederick Douglas Maritime Museum – Baltimore, MD

Fred’s Water Ice – West Philly

If you are ever in the DC area during August be sure to check out outdoor basketball at the Goodman Leagues. It is located in the Barry Farm community of Anacostia and a place you will see the community come together though sport.

GOODMAN LEAGUE SCENES – CLICK HERE TO ACCESS


These are general shots of our trek

EASTCOASTTREKV2021 CLICK HERE TO SEE GENERAL PICS


FOODIE EXCURSION

Gregory’s Coffee

Ethel’s Creole Kitchen

Ethel’s is one of our regulars because it’s something about the funk or ambience they provide alongside freshly prepared food. This year we decided to do a sampler.

Cindy Lou’s Fish House

Cindy Lou’s is in Fell’s Point and located in the Hilton hotel complex. It is a new venue and they are still working on improving operations. This place was chosen because of their Lobster Po-Boy and we were not disappointed. Prices are reasonable based on the quality you receive.

Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal Market is a Philadelphia institution. Under one roof you are treated to vast array of homestyle food goodies. We didn’t eat at all of them but one of my favs was the Dutch candy store which had a great variety of Reed’s. We heard about Sweet T’s bakery, which is a great venture. The sweet potato pie which folk were raving about was OK. I’ve been raised on sweet potato pies and if you keep it simple……the better. Sweet T’s packages two small pies in one container. The taste was very good but where was the crust???? The Dutch cafe had a good breakfast menu so we opted for the pancake and bacon. In all honesty, it was tasty but I would probably rank it a “C” as it comes with a big hunk of what appeared to be nucoa margarine. The bacon had a terrible presentation as it was not professionally presented as you would expect – meaning in a reasonable strip length. Anyway, more hype than reality. Overall, the venue is a great representation of the region and the type of place you want to put under your belt as far as visiting.

Corrine’s Place Soul Food

Corrine’s was part of our New Jersey trek. The food was fantastic but the journey didn’t go so well. Renie, our dear friend and well-known foodie extraordinaire called while we were in Philly to see about reservations and verify closing time. First of all there are no reservations as there is no in restaurant dining. The dining they do provide is a nicely appointed patio. Second, they close at 7:30 SHARP (umm, just noticed the flyer states an 8PM closing). When we arrived a staff was outside and even though it was 7:20PM, he stated “we are closed.” After some negotiation we were allowed to order and had to make sure we could eat on the patio as our other option would have been to wait two hours until we arrived back in D.C. Anyway, so much for building a business and making sure those empowered to represent you understand how easy it is for businesses to fail, let alone to bad reviews which might further damper the reputation. That being said, Corrine’s provides you bang for your buck as the dinners are piled high and the sides are more than enough. As a matter of fact the portions could easily feed two, maybe three people.

Boog’s – Camden Yard

Named after Baltimore Oriole slugger Boog Powell, Boog’s specializes in pit beef sandwiches. I purchased the combo which came with turkey, beef and ham. It also came chips and I swear there was enough meat to cover two more sandwiches.

Edgar Bar & Kitchen

Had the taste for some fresh pimento & homestyle chips. Edgar did not disappoint, although $9 might seem a bit expensive, keep in mind it is the restaurant which services the landmark Mayflower hotel.
EDGAR BURGERº American cheese, Edgar sauce, lettuce, onion, pickles on brioche (with bacon +2) – $15

Busboy’s & Poet’s – H Street

Picture to follow

Ben’s Next Door

Located in the “U” neighborhood and cousin to the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, this restaurant offers a full bar and diverse menu.

Sweet Home Café

Sweet Home Cafe is located in the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. A great venue which offers tasty food surrounded by history.

Busboy’s & Poet’s – V St.

A DC favorite right in the “U” corridor. Always great food and an outstanding environment.

R & R Seafood

This restaurant is located within the BWI airport. It is near the “E” concourse section.


Fred’s Water Ice

Located in West Philly, Fred’s Water Ice is a community favorite. Our visit was good but it could have been better as they were out of quite a few flavors and the gelati machine was broken. Anyway, worth a visit as the mango ice I had was very tasty and refreshing as it was very humid the day we visited.


During our trek we stayed two nights in Baltimore at the Loft by Marriott and five nights at the historic Mayflower Hotel which is also part of the Marriott properties. Luckily while the Mayflower is one and done……for us, at least we didn’t have to pay the $900 per night rack rate!!!!!


We lost another Giant!!!! Ms Valerie Whitworth


A special thanks to Mr. Jacques Bordeaux – GHS ‘71 (Bordeaux Collections) and Mrs. Debra Lee- GHS ‘70  for contributing to my thoughts.


My brother Ronald called me last night to inform me Debra Lee had reached out to him to let us know Valerie Whitworth passed.  I immediately called her mother, Mrs. Carolyn Whitworth to convey my condolences and communicated how much I appreciated her allowing me to visit the home last year to see Valerie.  Also, I subsequently spoke to Debra.  Valerie passed on August 16, 2021 at approximately 4PM. 

I live in West Adams and Valerie’s family home is in View Park, approximately 5 miles southwest.

In 1965 I first met Valerie.  As many know even at the young age Greg Jones was like the “pied-piper” of Pomona, especially for those in south Pomona off Mission and White.  If he took you in as a friend, you were also that of his crew, which included Valerie, Ebora, Angela, Steve Shy and later Debra.  They ruled 6th Street between Myrtle and Buena Vista.  We all took pride in attending Marshall Junior High school and Ganesha High School.

Anyway, she will be missed and I am so happy I knew her.  I am happier that she made a contribution during her living days and she is now at peace and rest so that her memories will hold a special place in our hearts.

Valerie was an incredible person.  Stylish, sharp, focused, friendly and all of the attributes that made you happy to be in her company.  Once we all graduated and went our separate ways, like many of you there were friends who stayed in touch and became part of our adult life.  You may also remember Valerie and Bob Ferrell were two of our classmates who were at UCLA during the early ’70’s.  I would visit them frequently, usually on a Friday.  Bob was playing football and Valerie was hitting the books.  She was so amazing and we use to joke because she was one of few that I knew who achieved tremendous the rare academic excellence by gaining her joint degree:  MBA/JD.

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A trip worth making – The Olympic Black Power Salute Statue


TO VIEW SOME PICTURES FROM OUR TREK

CLICK ON THIS LINK

Back in the day

I was in the 11th grade at Ganesha High School and while in Mrs. Anderson’s Spanish class I met James R. Bell. I know he passed the class………I can’t remember my grade??? LOL. Anyway we have been friends since and as you can imagine he is part of our broader family. During the years we have been fortunate to make many historic treks. Recently he joined Judith and myself as we made the journey to San Jose to see remnants of “speed city” and the Olympic Black Power statue which is on the campus of San Jose State University. Of course Tommie Smith and John Carlos made history in 1968 and it was heartfelt to see them bronzed in the statue funded by students.


As a early teen I was watching the 1964 Olympics. They were in black and white. The finals of the 4×100 men’s relay was about to start. As the starting gun sounded the sprinters took off and somehow the favored U.S. team was in trouble and appeared to be headed to defeat. As anchor Bob Hayes took the baton he tracked down all runners ahead of him and miraculously the Russian sprinter who surely thought he would be the first to touch the victory tape was stunned to see this ebony image zip past him. It was a historic leg of the relay race that has to go in history as a legendary comeback. Hayes was known as “Bullet” Bob Hayes and from that race earned the distinction of the fastest human. I was mesmerized.

In 1968 my track and field appreciation had matured so at 16 I had an understanding of the Olympic games as well as the anticipated boycott. The rest is history as while the men’s 200mm victory stand celebration exploded around the globe, all three runners sacrificed something very few could imagine. Their story is an important part of history. The Triumph and the Victory.

In 2005 San Jose State University supported to students who funded the status symbolizing the victory stand. There are several statues of this moment but the “Olympic Black Power Statue” is special as this was the campus Tommie Smith and John Carlos attended. The track team was known for its prowess everyone knew it as “speed city.”

During my stint at the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee it gave me great joy to see Peter Uberroth extend a hand to recognize the greatness of people like Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they too were appointed as staffers. I didn’t have a relationship with Tommie Smith as management of the games were all over the city. However, I did have a relationship with John as he visited my office at Expo Park and our subsequent office at Manual Arts. We attended several community events together and of course he brought his torch from the opening torch relay. It was magic.

Ricardo Gouvela aka “Rigo 23” did an amazing job in creating the statue. I was surprised at its height as well as the attention to detail.

If you have never visited the site, I would encourage you to do so.

To gain more information on this history

The 2005 Statue Ceremony
With Drawn Arms
The John Carlos Story – Book Unveiling

There is much more so just do a Google search of items you feel have legitimate authorship

Henry Aaron – “The Hammer”


Henry Aaron passed away yesterday.  For baseball nerds like myself I was sad to hear the announcement.  It came on the heels of what has been quite a week.   First, we saw the news that Trump “was gone.”  After four years of tremendous turbulence which saw him contribute to the Republican party losing the House of Representatives, then the Senate and finally the presidency his antics, criminal behavior and abusive personality will undoubtedly make him one of the most memorable boneheads in history.  That same day civility returned as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. 

Larry King RIP

Then this morning we awakened to the news that legendary broadcaster Larry King passed away at 87.  But this post is about Henry Aaron.

The legend of The Hammer

Sports is part of our culture and oftentimes history is made right before our eyes.  Henry Aaron was an unassuming professional athlete.  He was known as “Hank” and later as “The Hammer.”  During his era many great African-American players blossomed and their slugging prowess might have been taken for granted.

Through his career he was not known as a high-profile player.  His first major league team was with the Milwaukee Braves which was considered a small-market franchise.  This more than anything allowed him to fly under the radar as it was not until you analyzed his stats that you realized his greatness.  He played twenty-three years and not once did he go on the DL (disabled list).  There were no pads to protect his body from blazing fast-balls, no batting gloves to protect his hands from being jarred by a batted ball which didn’t connect with the sweet spot of the bat.  He just went and did his job, day in, day out and through it all earned the distinction as the home run king.

The historic 4th Inning

On that Monday night in 1974, I was at the apartment of my buddy Ed Davis.  The Braves were playing our beloved Dodgers and we knew it was a matter of time but we sat in anticipation drinking Schlitz beer.  Just like that, after Al Downing (known as Gentleman Al) let go of the pitch we heard Vin Scully describe the historic moment of 715.

Aaron wound up with a whopping 755 home runs. He became a great ambassador of the game and for his activism in civil rights.  As Atlanta was preparing for the 1996 Olympics, Aaron’s home field, Fulton County stadium was about to be transformed into the main Olympic venue.  We heard that once the games were complete the stadium would be named in honor of him.  Unfortunately, that did not happen.  In 2000 I finally got a chance to visit “Turner Field” and while I came for the game as the Braves were hosting the Pirates, I wanted to see the field replication that was embedded into the parking lot.  It featured an accurate layout of the field and had a marker where Aaron’s 755th blast landed.  What a site!  As I went to see the game, I was lucky to catch a home run ball off the bat of a Pirates player.

Turner Field with diamond layout of Fulton County stadium and site where Aaron’s blast landed.

In 2017, Trust Park (Suntrust) became the new home of the Braves.  I was still miffed they moved from “the hood” but I had a trip to Atlanta which coincided with the baseball season and luckily it was a home game.  I organized the trip because I wanted to see long-time Dodger Matt Kemp who had been recently traded to the Braves.  In addition, I wanted to see the much-heralded Hank Aaron statue and other tributes the new stadium featured.  It was quite a site.

Fred at “The Hammer” statue – Trust Park 2017

Aaron’s legacy will be remembered by fans around the globe and known for his humanity and goodwill.