Monday, January 31, 2022

[UBATUBA] Uba-Chuva Indeed


After some last-minute itinerary booboo, this São Paulo trip ended up being an overnight transit in the city itself, although I managed to stay a day or two in Ubatuba which is still technically in São Paulo but the state, not the city. As is the norm in naming conventions of some cities and regions, some states or districts are named after their biggest or most popular city. Such is the case for Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo but look at a map and you’ll see how bigger these states are than those actual cities mentioned.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Nightmare Alley

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

1939. Stan Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) buries a body under his house’s wooden floor before burning it down and running away to join a circus, where he is taken in as an overall assistant by its owner Clem (Willem Dafoe). There he meets clairvoyant couple Zeena (Toni Collette) and Pete (David Strathairn) who take him in and teach him a thing or two about their tricks. He also meets and begins a relationship with Mary Cahill (Rooney Mara), one of the performers who plays around with electricity for her act. The two decide to run away to New York where they begin a successful career as a psychic duo for Buffalo’s elite. There he crosses paths with psychologist Lilith Ritter (Cate Blanchett) who, in a ploy to expose him as a fraud, gets entangled in his web of lies. An affair soon begins, but their partnership crosses over to professional territory as she plays along as a willing accomplice for him to dupe her well-off clientele.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Budget and Itinerary


SATURDAY: 22 January 2022
Avianca (Bogotá - Rio de Janeiro) - 1,769.45
Uber (Airport - Copacabana) - 42.21
Hotel IBIS (5 Nights) - 1,643.25
BRL3,454.91

Friday, January 28, 2022

[PARATY] Rio's Colonial Town


Like Ilha Grande, Paraty was not on the itinerary either. But since the flight became a bus ride, I just wasn’t hopping on an overnight bus from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo. I’m too old for that kind of shit. And so, I had to divide the bus ride into manageable segments. After Ilha Grande, Paraty was the next logical destination heading to the neighboring state given its proximity to the border. As a bonus, I found out that Paraty is actually one of Brazil’s more popular colonial towns. Ooh, history. I like.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

[ILHA GRANDE] Lopes Mendes & Santo Antônio


Ilha Grande was not really part of the itinerary but as travel dates loomed closer and flight tickets yet to be booked became more expensive, I had to find alternative travel arrangements via Brazil’s extensive bus and private transfer systems. Finding an okay price for a one-way transfer from Copacabana to Vila do Abraão which already included the van and the speedboat, I decided that Ilha Grande would serve as one of the pitstops for the Rio de Janeiro – São Paulo leg of the trip. I guess we’re beaching some more, after all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Jesus on the Cliff


I don’t know if it’s just me but getting to Christ the Redeemer statue feels a bit more complicated compared to Sugarloaf Mountain. Or maybe it shouldn’t be. Perhaps it’s the number of options for the van that makes it feel that way? You have to book an official van to get to the top. Where you take the van depends on you. It can be at Praça Lido in Copacabana, in Botafogos or at the entrance of the park itself in Paineiras. All of those three can be reached by Uber but prices will vary by distance.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Sugarloaf Mountain


All this time I thought Christ the Redeemer was also located on the same hill they refer to as Sugarloaf Mountain. Surprise. Apparently, not. What Brazilians refer to as Pão de Açúcar is located in Rio’s Urca district closer to Botafogo and the beaches. Cristo Redentor is at the middle, at the national park of Tijuca. What’s the difference, then? Well, both are high altitude thrills that will give you a sweeping panoramic view of the city. If you can include both in your itinerary, there really is no reason to just choose one.

Monday, January 24, 2022

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Ipanema or Copacabana?


So, you want to go to Rio and can’t decide whether to stay in Ipanema or Copacabana? Don’t turn this into an existential crisis when it shouldn’t be. The two beaches are literally right next to each other along the same Atlantic Coast, with Arpoador wedged in between. In any case, the distance is a mere 20-to-30-minute walk along paved avenues if you dislike taking a stroll along the beach. 15 minutes if you are a brisk walker. 5 minutes or less on Uber. And so, where are you going to stay? But first, BRAZIL!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Spencer

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

1991. Diana (Kristen Stewart), Princess of Wales, decides to drive to the annual Christmas holiday celebration of the royal family at Sandringham and gets lost along the way. Now aware of the affair her husband Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) has been having, she finds herself on the verge of a breakdown. The only people she can have a genuine conversation with not bound by rehearsed royal protocol responses are her sons Prince William (Jack Nielen) and Prince Harry (Freddie Spry) as well as her royal dresser Maggie (Sally Hawkins), who tries to convince her to weather the situation with her beauty and grace under pressure. This, she finds difficult to do given the restrictive ambiance of the place and the traditions that are observed there. It doesn’t help that her every move is being policed by Equerry Major Alistair Gregory (Timothy Spall). Finding inspiration in the life story of Anne Boleyn, she finds clarity in the neighboring estate where she grew up and is about to make one of her life’s biggest decisions.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Jackie (2016)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Massachusetts, 1964. Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy (Natalie Portman) is visited by an unnamed Journalist (Billy Crudup) for an interview regarding the assassination of her husband a few weeks prior. Forced to relive the nightmare to indulge the press, she goes on a vivid tour down memory lane back to the tragic day as well as their happy days as a family at the White House. What is shown is a portrait of a woman who had to decide how to swiftly react to such tragedy, playing a delicate balancing act between showing or hiding her grief in public and protecting the legacy not just of her husband’s presidency abruptly cut short but also that of their family as a whole. With two kids in tow left without a father, Jackie must find a way back to normalcy and eventually adjust to life, outside of the White House and away from the limelight.

Friday, January 21, 2022

[BOGOTÁ] Budget and Itinerary (2)


WEDNESDAY: 19 January 2022
Avianca (Cali - Bogotá) - 214,108.02
Airbnb (3 Nights) - 345,760.58
Katios (Grilled Chicken Breast w/ Rice & Potatoes + Pepsi + Milo) - 82,600.00
Uber (Airport - Zona G) - 25,000.00
Uber SPID (Groceries) - 73,650.00
COP741,118.60

Thursday, January 20, 2022

[BOGOTÁ] How Rosa Is Your Zona


All this time I thought Zona Rosa automatically meant Gay Area, because “Pink Zone” right? Apparently, Bogotá’s is not, but it is a dangerous place. I was robbed there in broad daylight. By Lacoste. There I was entering the shop and minding my own business when suddenly I found myself swiping my credit card at one of the POS terminals. Next thing I knew, I was heading out of the store with a paper bag containing two overpriced shirts. So, yeah. Bogotá’s Zona Rosa is dangerous. Lots of voluntary daylight robberies happening there. Gosh.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Red Notice

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

According to historical records, Cleopatra received three bejeweled golden eggs from her lover Mark Anthony as gifts. Two have been excavated so far: one ending up in a museum in Rome; the other, in the hands of a private collector. The third has never been found. In 2021, FBI agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson) arrives in Italy to preempt a heist involving the golden egg housed at Castel Sant’Angelo. However, his efforts are in vain as number one international art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) gets his hands on it first. Good guy pursues bad guy all the way to Bali but in a strange twist of fate, both end up in a Russian prison as they are set up by Sarah Black (Gal Gadot), aka The Bishop, who now rises from second to best international art thief as she dethrones Booth. An unlikely partnership is born between the two men as Hartley attempts to clear his name while Booth tries to regain his fame.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

[VALLE DEL CAUCA] Budget and Itinerary


SATURDAY: 15 January 2022
Spirit (Miami - Cali) - 410,276.73
Airbnb (4 Nights) - 507,566.69
Uber (Airport - Los Libertadores) - 41,000.00
Supermarket (Groceries) - 20,700.00
La Magua de Mapache (Strawberry Slushee) - 8,000.00
COP987,543.42

Monday, January 17, 2022

[CALI] Jesus with a Little Bit of Salsa


Travel Fatigue. Laziness. With your powers combined, we’re not going to San Andrés and Barranquilla anymore! Haha. Hahaha. Hahahaha. Nah, the feedback for internet connectivity in San Andrés is pretty bad. I can’t sacrifice work in favor of another Caribbean Island getaway. As for Barranquilla, Shakira says she won’t be at home until next year, so what’s the point. And so the Cali > San Andrés > Barranquilla > Bogotá itinerary was reduced to Cali > Bogotá. Chill we will then. Chill, we will.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The 355

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

A Colombian drug lord decides to shift gears and has his son create a decryption program that can be controlled by just one person and wreak havoc across the globe. In an extraction mission gone awry, the technology falls in the hands of DNI agent Luis (Édgar Rojas) who tries to sell it for a measly $3 million to the CIA. Enter partners Mace (Jessica Chastain) and Nick (Sebastian Stan) who fail their mission to retrieve the device in Paris after the intervention of BND agent Marie (Diane Kruger) whose agency also wants the technology. Left without a choice, Mace is forced to seek the help of friend and MI6 cybernetics whiz Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o) who is reluctant to get back in the field. DNI psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz) sent to help Luis also inadvertently joins the fray as the quartet find themselves skimming across the world and ending up working with MSS agent Lin Mi Sheng (Fan Bingbing) as they try to end their quest in Shanghai.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Scream (2022)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

High schooler Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) is alone at their house in Woodsboro one night and receives a call from a playful stalker. Soon she is attacked and stabbed multiple times. Despite her injuries, she survives and is visited at the hospital by her estranged sister Samantha (Melissa Barrera) who is accompanied by her boyfriend Richie (Jack Quaid). Tara’s friends then speculate as to who will be attacked next based on the rules of slasher flick requels. Will it be Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette), son of deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton)? Twins Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Chad (Mason Gooding) who happen to be Randy’s (Jamie Kennedy) niece and nephew? Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison) whose family now owns Stu Macher’s (Matthew Lillard) old house where all the horrors of the first film's serial murders unfolded? As they try to figure out the pattern, legacy characters Dewey Riley (David Arquette), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) find themselves revisiting Woodsboro to put an end to Ghostface once and for all.

Friday, January 14, 2022

[FLORIDA] Budget and Itinerary (2)


WEDNESDAY: 12 January 2022
Spirit (San Salvador - Fort Lauderdale) - 152.76
AirBNB (1 Night/Fort Lauderdale) - 82.63
Uber (Airport - Croissant Park) - 11.04
USD246.43

Thursday, January 13, 2022

[MIAMI BEACH] Party Party in Majamee


Six years ago, I landed at FLL from Haiti, because that’s where all the cheap flights via JetBlue land anyway. Half a decade later here we are again and the blockbuster lines at immigration never changed. I don’t think it has anything to do with the pandemic. In any case, I’m glad that my Miami side trip actually happened this time around, because Fort Lauderdale for me will always just be a transit point, never the destination. From FLL, you can take a cheap Flixbus to Miami either to Downtown or to the airport. Travel time is an hour and tickets are not expensive.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Lost Daughter

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

University professor Leda Caruso (Olivia Colman) arrives at a beach in Greece and gets exactly what she has been needing: tranquility and solitude. She is welcomed by the resort caretaker Lyle (Ed Harris), with whom she will soon be flirting. However, her haven of peace and quiet is disturbed by the arrival of a group of boisterous tourists, among them Nina (Dakota Johnson) and her daughter Elena (Athena Martin). Leda easily gets fascinated with the young mother, seeing herself in her as she gets flashbacks of her struggles raising her own daughters. When Elena and her doll go missing, Leda becomes instrumental in finding them and strikes a budding friendship with some women in the group. However, this blossoming acquaintance is cut short as she is forced to deal with some inner demons of her own that end up clashing with her short-term decisions and unpopular opinions about motherhood.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

[SAN MIGUEL] Budget and Itinerary


SUNDAY: 9 January 2022
Bus (San Salvador - San Miguel) - 5.00
Uber (Bus Terminal - Colonia Santa Maria) - 2.56
Airbnb (2 Nights) - 102.71
Uber Eats (Papa Johns) - 23.67
USD138.94

Monday, January 10, 2022

[SAN MIGUEL] El Cuco Beach


If I have to be totally blunt about it, El Cuco did not really wow me in any way. Don’t blame me. Or maybe blame me after all. I’ve been to many beaches in this lifetime on different parts of the world. There are beautiful beaches. There are beaches that are blah. San Miguel’s El Cuco is blah. Did I enjoy it, though? Well, yes, but defo nothing to write home about. Beaches can be enjoyed not based on their aesthetics alone. What El Cuco lacks in that department, it makes up for through other factors like the overall vibe.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

[SAN SALVADOR] Budget and Itinerary (2)


FRIDAY: 7 January 2022
Avianca (Guatemala - San Salvador) - 94.40
Avianca (Check-in Baggage) - 52.49
Tourist Card (Airport) - 12.00
AirBNB (3 Nights) - 120.96
Uber (Airport - Downtown) - 22.30
USD302.15

Saturday, January 8, 2022

The Matrix Resurrections

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a world-renowned developer famous for his videogame called The Matrix. He is also inexplicably drawn to mother-of-three and Ducati enthusiast Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss), whom he regularly stumbles upon at their local café. Things start to get weird when he is approached by a blue-haired gun-wielding woman named Bugs (Jessica Henwick) who reveals to him that he is actually Neo, the ONE responsible for freeing many minds from enslavement in the Matrix. With the help of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and an unlikely alliance with his business partner Smith (Jonathan Groff), Neo goes down deep into the rabbit hole once again, rediscovering his memories as well as the long history of their war with the machines all the way to his reintroduction into the Matrix through the intervention of The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris), the mastermind of its current version responsible for the new status quo.

Friday, January 7, 2022

[QUETZALTENANGO] Budget and Itinerary


WEDNESDAY: 5 January 2021
Transportes El Alamo (Guatemala City - Quetzaltenango - Guatemala City) - 159.98
AirBNB (2 Nights) - 757.86
Uber (Transportes El Alamo - 3a Calle) - 16.34
Uber Eats (Panda Express) - 125.00
GTQ1,059.18

Thursday, January 6, 2022

[QUETZALTENANGO] A Xela of Any Other Name


After Tikal, I’m pretty much done with Guatemala. I never really liked the capital that much but there was no other option but to transit there anyway. What surprised me in Guate was the cold weather that greeted me, until I realized that the capital does indeed share that kind of cold clime with Mexico at this time of year. Think of it as their mild version of the north’s winter. Still recovering from colds, I decided to just literally chill in my Airbnb and recuperate, which was a shame because Oakland Mall was just walking distance from the house, not to mention I wanted to visit Popol Vuh Museum as well.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Power of the Dog

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

1925, Montana. Crass cowboy Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) has always had a reputation at the ranch where he works as well as the community he belongs to. His brother George (Jesse Plemons), on the other hand, has always been more reasonable and reserved, ever so patient and putting up with his sibling's rather rash attitude. Once in an excursion out of town, George meets inn owner Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst), a depressed widow and single mother to medical student Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). When the two hit it off and decide to get married, Phil becomes even nastier, making his new sister-in-law’s life a living hell at their ranch. He also bullies Peter constantly for his effeminate behavior but warms up to him later as they discover something common between the two of them. As the alpha dog becomes friendlier with the underdog, he loses track of the game. Who will win in this battle of wits?

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

[GUATEMALA CITY] Budget and Itinerary (2)


MONDAY: 3 January 2022
Aeromar (Flores - Guatemala City) - 786.03
Airbnb (2 Nights) - 369.97
Uber (Airport - Zone 10) - 18.46
Uber Eats (Sushi & Roll) - 101.00
GTQ1,275.46

Monday, January 3, 2022

Tick, Tick... Boom!

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

1992. Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield), a struggling playwright, performs one of his works at a theater workshop in New York where he begins by describing a ticking sound getting louder and louder in his head as he gets closer and closer to hitting the big 3-0. Working at a diner to make ends meet, he has been juggling his day job and his life’s greatest work, a futuristic theatrical adaptation of Orwell’s 1984 called Superbia, for the last decade or so. His best friend Michael (Robin de Jesús) has already given up on the Bohemian artist’s life in the Big Apple by working at a Marketing firm, while dancer girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp) is mulling over the prospect of moving out of the city to pursue a decent paying job. Wading through Broadway’s tough bureaucracy, Larson tries to find the balance between passion and survival as he bears witness to the many social plights of the decade through his writing.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

[PETÉN] Budget and Itinerary


FRIDAY: 31 December 2021
Tropic Air (Belize City - Flores) - 1,635.60
AirBNB (4 Nights) - 924.90
Taxi (Airport - Zona 3) - 50.00
GTQ2,610.50

Saturday, January 1, 2022

[FLORES] The Jewel of Mayan Guatemala


Historians seem to be in agreement that among the Maya regional centers during the Pre-Columbian era, there were three that reached the highest level of prominence which caused them to be at constant loggerheads with one another: Caracol in modern day Belize; Calakmul in Mexico’s Campeche; and Tikal in present day Guatemala’s Petén region. The three form some sort of triangle and would probably be easier to all visit sans pandemic. For now, I settled for the most accessible one. Tikal.

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