Travel: Surfing in La Libertad, El Salvador

The Finger Post Travel (November 26, 2017)

 

(La Libertad, El Salvador, August, 2003)

 

 

Fourteen years is a long time.  It was in August of 2003 that I decided to make my way to Central America from Denver, Colorado with the goal of surfing in La Libertad.  I didn’t know much about the city, but a passing reference in my tattered copy of Let’s Go had me convinced that I had to get there.  It was, as I was told, one of the best “hidden” surf spots on the planet.  It seemed the perfect place to hit on my last week of freedom before I started law school.

There was only one problem: I really can’t surf.

The thing is, as a child I took up surfing right before my family moved from Hawaii to Michigan, and I hadn’t really considered the fact that surfing wasn’t really like riding a bike.  You couldn’t just pick it up where you left off.  No, surfing was like fighting Mr. Sandman in Punch Out.  No matter how good you were as a kid, it’s not something you can just pick up after fifteen years away from the ocean/NES.

So in the summer of 2003, with just weeks before I was to start law school, I decided to make my way to El Salvador and try and shake off some ring rust.  There were numerous problems with this plan, the most notable was that even as a kid I wasn’t exactly what you’d call a “surfer.”  I was just a kid who started learning the ropes…and then quit.  Basically I was still fighting Glass Joe on the surfboard before I left for Michigan.

But even with that being said I figured a week of sitting on the beach in La Libertad would at least get me somewhere around King Hippo.  Besides, I had recently become fascinated by El Salvador thanks in large part due to the Oliver Stone movie Salvador.  Salvador remains, in my opinion, one of the most underrated films of all time and in 2003 it was a film I had seen at least two dozen times.  I wanted to visit the country that had just emerged from the Civil War only eleven years prior.  I had an agenda of spending a day in San Salvador, spending several days in La Libertad, and making my way up to Perquin to go to the Museum of the Revolution in the former FMLN stronghold in Northeast El Salvador.

But I also wanted to recreate one of my favorite travelling experiences of my life: backpacking through Europe as a college student.  So with less than two weeks in Central America I elected to fly into Belize, take a bus to Tikal Guatemala, another bus to El Salvador, and then make my way to Honduras and then back to Belize.

Needless to say it was way to ambitious to accomplish.  But it was an amazing experience nonetheless.  After a fun couple of days in Belize and then an amazing adventure in Guatemala I was set to hit the road to El Salvador.  I purchased a bus ticket in Guatemala City to El Salvador with Confort Lines for under $20 and was on my way.

 

Crossing the border into El Salvador

But this was 2003 and my outdated Let’s Go guide wasn’t up to date on the fact that El Salvador had adopted the U.S. Dollar as it’s currency.  As we made our way to the border I remember frantically trying to find someone to change my dollars into Salvadoran money, much to the confusion of everyone on the border (this is a good place to mention that in 2003 my Spanish was non-existent).  But I soon discovered that the Salvadoran reputation for hospitality was entirely deserved.  After some issue with paying an entrance fee in El Salvador (I don’t remember the particulars, just I was required to pay something in U.S. Dollars and I couldn’t find my American money, only the money I had already changed in Guatemala) a woman on the bus offered to cover my fee.  I recall it being around $5…not exactly pocket change in El Salvador.  By the time we got back on the bus I had found my secret hiding compartment in my backpack where I stuffed my American dollars and tried to pay her back.  She refused to take payment.

I also had a chance to speak to a student who sat next to me on the bus and this guy seemed legitimately stoked that I picked El Salvador as a tourist destination.

By the time I reached San Salvador I was ready to check into my hostel: Ximena’s Guest House.  I was able to book a dorm room for $4 and found myself bunked up with a group of hippies in what appeared to be a room built out of corrugated metal  sheets on top of the roof.   Still, in 2003 I still lived for the hostel experience and this place seriously out-hosteled just about every hostel I ever stayed at.  After heading to a local bar with some Peace Corps volunteers I was ready to call it a night and make my way to La Libertad in the morning.

Bus Station in San Salvador

The bus ticket to La Libertad ran me $0.46 and by the time I made it to La Libertad I was finally starting to hit my limit.  I decided to spend the first day just wandering around the town and maybe doing a little swimming.  I quickly learned an important lesson about not swimming in the ocean if nobody else is…it usually means they know something you should.  Although I nearly drown when the riptide started to pull me out to the middle of the Pacific I nonetheless was determined to rent myself a surfboard and live my own Endless Summer adventure the following day.  I found a guy who ran a small surf shop and rented  a board from him and asked him to give me a refresher course on surfing.  I don’t remember his lesson after 14-years but I do remember at one point he did advise me to paddle and then stand up.

That seemed like a good plan of attack.

Needless to say, my lack of surfing skills ensured that I didn’t have the most productive day on the surf board…but right when I was ready to give up it happened.  One wave…just one.  It wasn’t the biggest wave of all time, but it was mine.  I caught it and rode it for a good fifteen seconds.  I finally caught my wave in El Salvador and for about fifteen seconds I was on top of the world.  Fifteen seconds to turn my trip to Central America into a complete success.  Fifteen seconds and one (very small) wave that made El Salvador the perfect adventure to start my law school career.

I don’t think I can ever really duplicate my trip to El Salvador, but I really want to go back in 2018.  The World Boxing Organization will host it’s Convention in Costa Rica and I have a friend from San Salvador who will be there in San Jose and I’d like to see about paying him a visit after the Convention to check out El Salvador in depth.  I’d really like to go back and see the country once more…and to see how it has changed since 2003.  I’d love the chance to see Pequin and to spend more than a day in San Salvador.  I’d love the chance to see more of the country…

But if I only ended up on the beach in La Libertad I don’t think I would complain about that either.

 

Read More Finger Post Travel stories here!

 

On this day 100 years ago NMSU crushed New Mexico 110-3

It’s fun watching the hard luck NMSU Aggies make a run at the Arizona Bowl this season. They have two games left this season and they need two wins to qualify for a bowl game and a 6-6 record. But both games are very winnable for New Mexico State: Idaho (3-7) and South Alabama (4-7).

So it seems like a good time to bring up that this is the 100 year anniversary of one of New Mexico State’s most impressive wins. On November 24, 1917 the Aggies crushed New Mexico 110-3 to become the only team in New Mexico to score 100 points in a game. With that being said the Lobos also lost to Albuquerque High School that year, but still …

Boxing: Will Tatsuya Fukuhara be the latest to capitalize on the “Marciano jinx”?

The Finger Post Boxing (November 21, 2017)

Boxing, like life, is often about being at the right place at the right time. And for popular Japanese minimumweight Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-5-6, 7 KOs), he is now very much in the right place. Just three months after the former WBO champion dropped his belt to countryman Ryo Yamanaka, Fukuhara is set to take on the biggest name in the 105-pound division: Thailand’s Wanheng Menayothin. Fukuhara is slated to take on the undefeated Thai champion on November 25th in Nakhon Ratchasima Thailand in a fight that could propel Fukuhara back on top of the minimumweight division.

After all, Menayouthin is arguably the most recognizable champion in boxing smallest weight division since Ricardo Lopez…thanks in part to a former heavyweight champion from Brockton, Massachusetts. Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0 was thrust back into the spotlight when Floyd Meaweather took on Conor McGregor in a glorified exhibition match that saw “Money” improve his record to 50-0. It was enough to create interest in the little known Thai champion who himself was inching towards tying Marciano’s mythical record. But unlike Mayweather, who broke the record against a fighter making his professional debut, or even the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez (whose 50th fight was a non-title affair against a fighter with a 1-15 record) Menayothin seems determined to take on the toughest opponent out there for his 49th fight. Fukuhara is widely seen as one of the most dangerous fighters in the WBC rankings and although he will be stepping into hostile territory he nonetheless is regarded as a tough fighter who has the tools to give the Thai champion problems.

He also is keenly aware of the history of Japanese boxers stepping into the ring against Thai champions in Thailand.

“I’m aware of the situation, but I’m not worried about it.” Fukuhara said of fighting in Thailand. “I’m fighting to win. Out of the 22 times Japanese have fought in Thailand for world titles, we’ve got one win, one draw and 20 losses. My record in Thailand is one win, one draw.”

Nonetheless Fukuhara recognizes that there are some factors that may actually work in his favor.

“The matchmaker for this bout is the same one who matched the one world title bout when the Japanese boxer won,” Fukuhara added. “I have heard that the supervisor and one judge will also be coming from Japan. This is a big chance for me, so I’m going to put it all on the line. I’ve been training hard, and I’m excited. This is a big chance for me, and I’m going to win.”

Fukuhara may also have one other interesting historic factor working in his favor as well. When champions close in on the Marciano record, more often then not they stumble. Former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes ran into Michael Spinks in his 49th fight. Former light heavyweight champion Dariusz Michalczewski was derailed by Julio Cesar Gonzalez in his 49th fight. Even former IBO champion Brian Nielsen stumbled in his quest to break Marciano’s record, getting stopped by Dickie Ryan in fight number 50. For world champions with 48 or 49 wins, unless they are fighting a journeyman with a 1-15 record or a debuting MMA fighter, they tend to stumble just as they close in on 50-0.

Still, titles are won in the ring and Fukuhara knows he will have his work cut out for him on November 25th.

“He’s a fighter, a slugger, so this is going to be a brawl.” Fukuhara added. “We are going to go at it. I’ve been training to increase my punching power.”

As Fukuhara showed in his WBO world title winning performance against Moises Calleros, a brawl is something that would suit him just fine…and more than likely it would suit boxing fans as well. After all, if a record of Marciano’s is going to be broken or derailed, it is just appropriate for it to be decided in a Rocky-esque slugfest.

Continue reading “Boxing: Will Tatsuya Fukuhara be the latest to capitalize on the “Marciano jinx”?”

Boxing: Salinas stuns Zubia in Hobbs (October 26, 2014)

The Finger Post Boxing (November 3, 2017)

So I suggested fans keep an eye out for Saturday’s fight featuring Joey Alday and Chris Leyva in Hobbs, and I figured this might be a good time to revisit a previous show done by School of Hard Knocks Boxing in Lea County, New Mexico. So here is my Fightnews.con report from Isidro Castillo’a last show at the Club La Sierra in Hobbs, New Mexico back on October 25, 2014.

Salinas stuns Zubia in Hobbs, New Mexico

(Originally published on October 26, 2014 on Fightnews.com)

In what can only be called a knockout, School of Hard Knock Promotions put forth one of the most exciting boxing events to hit Southern New Mexico in recent memory as local boy Edgar Zubia took on his toughest opponent to date, fellow New Mexico prospect Jose Salinas last night in Hobbs, New Mexico in front of a nearly sold out crowd of over 500 boxing fans. In the much anticipated crossroads fight, local boy Edgar Zubia, 140, took on cross state rival Jose Salinas, 139.8, in a six round war that left many fans calling for a rematch immediately afterwards. The quick Zubia was in a “do or die” situation after losing a heartbreaker to Colbert Lozoya in his last fight back in 2013. The talented Zubia was hoping to revitalize his career with a dominant win over the highly regarded Salinas, and for two rounds, it looked like the plan was working. Despite the fact that Salinas was considerably more aggressive, Zubia initially utilized the effective jab that he abandoned against Lozoya, nailing Salinas coming in on several occasions. However, although Zubia had the edge in speed, Salinas was still able to land a few hard shots coming in. By mid round the fight erupted into a brawl as both men swung for the fences, much to the delight of the crowd. As both fighters touched gloves twice after the round ended (the second one coming when Zubia accidentally tapped Salinas in the face while trying to touch gloves) it was apparent that both men earned the respect of the other in the exchange. Both fighters traded hooks to start the third round, but it appeared that Edgar’s jab would be the most important punch of the night as Zubia seemed to time Salinas on several occasions coming in. Although the fight soon moved back to the inside, it again appeared to the local crowd that Zubia won the round thanks to the effectiveness of his jab and his ability to punish Salinas from the outside. However, the clear edge in conditioning for Salinas would soon become abundantly clear in the third round as Salinas began to tee off of the Hobbs native. Zubia’s jab, which had worked so effectively for him in the first two rounds and kept the fight close up to that point, became non-existent as he showed signs of fatigue. A hard overhand right from Salinas seemed to briefly stun Zubia midway through the round and by rounds end Zubia appeared to be sporting a knot under his left eye. Salinas again dominated round four, landing several hard right hands and at one point tagging Zubia as the local boy was raising his arms in an attempt to rally the crowd and wave in Salinas. Edgar seemed able to close the gap somewhat in round five, but still ate several hard right hands and a sharp left hook that ensured that Salinas would win the round on all three judges. By round six it appeared that Zubia would need a knockout, or at least a knockdown, to win the fight. But, in a move reminiscent of Oscar de la Hoya and Felix Trinidad, Salinas appeared willing to circle the ring and seemed disinterested in mixing it up with Zubia. Zubia appeared to find his second wind, aggressively trying to mix it up with Salinas and on several occasions raising his arms and inviting Salinas to stand in the middle and brawl with him. As the bell sounded ending the fight, it appeared to many fans in attendance that Zubia might have pulled off the improbable comeback and won the decision. However, Zubia would come up short on all three judges scorecards with Joel Perez (who scored the fight 58-56), Ray Chavez (who scored the fight 60-54) and Anthony Romero (who scored the fight 59-55) giving the nod to Salinas. Fightnews scored the fight 57-57. As soon as the decision was announced the fans in attendance began chanting “Rematch! Rematch!”, something that both fighters were more than happy to entertain.

  1. “I’ll be willing to do a rematch at 135,” Salinas said through a translator after the fight, “and an eight rounder.”Zubia expressed a desire to do a rematch as well, and even indicated that he would go to Las Cruces (the hometown of Salinas) for the rematch. School of Hard Knocks Promoter Isidro Castillo indicated a desire to bring both fighters back to Hobbs for a rematch in early 2015. With the win Salinas sees his record improve to 6-1, 3 KOs, while Zubia drops to 4-3-1, 3 KOs.In the opening fight of the night Albuquerque’s Brandon Munoz, 120.6, won his first professional fight after stopping Albert Tapia, 121.8 and hailing from Plainview, Texas, in the third round. The excitable Tapia seemed to do well in the first round but ultimately was unable to get inside the jab of Munoz. Tapia’s aggression led to a pair of accidental head butts in the first and second round, and the Texan did find a home for the overhand right on occasion. But after two fast pace rounds, in which Munoz seemed to edge, Tapia was simply unable to maintain the pace. A hard left hook from Munoz seemed to hurt Tapia in the opening seconds of the third, something that was confirmed when a hard counter right knocked Tapia nearly out of the ring. Although Tapia started to pull himself up, he waved “no mas” to referee Rocky Burke, prompting Burke to wave the fight off at 0:53 of the third round. With the win Munoz improves to 1-1-1 while Tapia drops to 0-2.

    In the second fight of the night a new prospect exploded onto the scene as hard punching Raul Rosas from Clovis annihilated the game, but outgunned, Anthony Rocha, from Amarillo, Texas. Although both fighters weighed in at almost identical weights (144.8 for Rosas and 144.4 for Rocha) Rocha looked somewhat soft around the middle whereas Rosas looked to be in peak condition. But although Rocha looked to be the sacrificial lamb at first, to his credit he fought with grit and toughness. Three straight right hands from Rosas in the opening seconds dropped Rocha hard. Although Rocha was visibly hurt, he gamely told referee Ray Chavez that he wanted to fight on after getting up on unsteady legs. However, Rosas swarmed all over the badly hurt Texan, prompting Chavez to jump in and wave off the fight at 0:41 of the first round. With the win Rosas now sees his record stand at 1-0, 1 KO while Rocha drops to 0-2.

    In what will probably go down as the New Mexico knockout of the year, tough Benjamin Vasquez from Amarillo, Texas won his first professional fight after he brutally stopped debuting Ray Howell from San Antonio in a junior welterweight fight. Howell was a fighter with some obvious talent, but the rugged aggression of Vasquez almost ended the fight in the opening minute. Timing a Howell jab perfectly, Vasquez landed a devastating overhand right that badly rocked Howell. Vasquez then jumped all over the debuting fighter, dropping him with another hard right hand. Howell looked like he was finished after he got up on very shaky legs, but the inexperience of Vasquez kept him in the fight after Vasquez came after Howell recklessly. Although Howell looked finished, he shocked fans in attendance by going after Vasquez and even hurting him with a shot at the bell in the final ten seconds. The Howell comeback continued in the second round as the suddenly rejuvenated Howell traded bombs with Vasquez for the better part of the round. Howell landed a hard three punch combination of his own, which visibly hurt Vasquez. By rounds end Vasquez was showing signs of frustration and fatigue, as Howell landed a quick combo as the round came to an end.

    Sadly for Howell, his miracle comeback came to a crashing end in the opening seconds of the third round when Vasquez wisely listened to his corners advice and returned to the devastating overhand right that worked so well for him in the opening round. Timing a jab perfectly, Vasquez dropped Howell with a devastating picture perfect overhand right in what was the “knockout of the night”. Referee Ray Chavez wisely waved the fight off at three as Howell lay on the canvas. With the win, Vasquez improves to 1-1, 1 KO while Howell drops to 0-1. The official time was 0:35 of the third.

    In the co main event, undefeated Augustine Banegas, 118, of Las Cruces stopped winless Christopher Salinas, 122, of Plainview, Texas. Despite the less than stellar record of Salinas, he fought admirably well, although he did show a disturbing tendency to switch from southpaw to orthodox while standing in front of his opponent. After a slow first round, Salinas seemed to outbox Banegas in the second and third. However, Banegas sealed the deal after a dominant forth round in which he dropped Salinas with a devastating body shot. Banegas lost what few fans he had in Hobbs after that by mocking Salinas as he walked away after dropping him. In a classless move, Banegas mockingly “kicked dirt” over Salinas like a dog at a fire hydrant, something that immediately made him the “heel” of the night. Salinas was able to get up and finish the fight, but the knockdown ended any possibility of him getting the decision. All three judges (Anthony Romero, Ray Chavez, and Joel Perez) had the fight 39-36 for Banegas, who improves to 2-0. Fightnews had the fight somewhat closer, at 38-37 for Banegas. With the loss Salinas drops to 0-3.

Boxing: This week’s top fight (you probably won’t see): School of Hard Knocks Boxing

The Finger Post Boxing (November 3, 2017)

So going back to the series I started earlier this year, I decided to pick my top fight you probably wouldn’t see for the weekend of November 3-4, 2017. And my pick?

Joey Alday vs. Chris Leyva.

I know, I know.  This hardly seems like the most significant fight in boxing this weekend. And the 22-year old Alday looks to be a world class prospect whereas Leyva seems to be more of a tough regional fighter.  But here me out.  The reason you should see this fight doesn’t have to do with Alday or Leyva. It has to do with promoter Isidro Castillo.  You see, Castillo is one of the best regional promoters I’ve seen in action, having covered several of his shows. He has an eye for talent and more importantly he has an eye for matching fights. Almost every card I’ve ever covered of his has a fight that would be  candidate for fight of the year had it been broadcast on ESPN, and I have the sneaking suspicion that his card will be no different. There will be fireworks in Hobbs, New Mexico on November 4th, maybe not in the Alday fight (although I consider Leyva to be a dangerous underdog who can’t be counted out), but fireworks nonetheless. In seven years of covering Castillo’s fights in Lea County, New Mexico I saw only two fights I’d consider “stinkers”. One was a female fight where one of the fighters quit after one round and the other was a fight where a last minute sub was needed to fill in for a bout featuring his son: Isidro Castillo Jr.

Two fights in seven years.  Not a bad streak by any means.  Even if Castillo had a fight that ended early, even if the fight wasn’t particularly competitive, Castillo always seemed to find a kid who refused to quit.  He just had a knack for finding tough guys who will come to fight.

So if you are reading this in Texas or New Mexico, consider heading down to Club La Sierra in Hobbs tomorrow night for what should be a tremendous night of boxing.  ANd if you don’t live near Hobbs, well, I guess your stuck with a WBA international title fight featuring an undefeated Russian prospect against 44-year old Ricardo Mayorga.

Read more Finger Post Boxing here!

 

Travel: Three days in Tobago

The Finger Post Travel (November 2, 2017)

(Black Rock Village, Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago, October 26-29, 2016)

 

“You should go to Tobago.  It’s so much nicer.”

It was a random, passing statement by some random guy at the hotel bar/restaurant in Georgetown, Guyana…but it was enough to hook me.  I had spent several days in Georgetown and had missed the opportunity to visit Suriname due to difficulties in getting to the embassy for my visa.  I was planning to go to Trinidad two days later and I was just now trying to put together an itinerary for my two and a half days in Trinidad.  But Wikitravel had me nervous.  The airport was 45 minutes away from the city…and cabs were supposedly very expensive.  A quick review online indicated I could be paying $20 to get to the city, which didn’t seem that bad.  But it was nonetheless going to be $40 right off the bat.   But this random guy in the hotel bar/restaurant had given me an idea.  I had another option…skip the cab and just get on another plane.  A second online search revealed that a round trip flight to Tobago with Caribbean Airlines was only $48: just a few dollars more than the cab fare to and from Port of Spain.

I know it’s always dangerous to get travel tips from random guys you meet in a hotel bar: that’s how people end up in Branson, Missouri.  But this guy seemed legit.  So I took a leap of faith and decided to go with Tobago with the hope that when I got there I wouldn’t be stuck spending my two days on Tobago watching Yakov Smirnoff’s latest comedy tour.

“Trinidad and Tobago: what a country!”

My flight into Trinidad was with LIAT, and my flight to Tobago would be with Caribbean Airlines.  I was somewhat worried about the connection as I had to pass customs and switch gates.  But all in all it was a fairly smooth process.  Still, it was getting late, and I had spent a fair amount of time in airports.  I was ready to get to my hotel and call it a night.

I booked three nights at the Grafton Beach Resort in Black Rock.  It was $112 a night on Hotels.com, but I was willing to splurge a bit.  I enjoyed my stay at Julian Guest House in Georgetown.  It was cheap and it had character.  But I was ready to upgrade to something a little nicer to close out my trip.  The Grafton Beach Resort had a pool, continental breakfast, and it was right on the beach.

It also had something else I wasn’t expecting when I booked it: privacy and lots of it.  I guess late October isn’t the high season in Tobago.  It was a month after the turtle nesting season ended and right in the middle of hurricane season.  After checking in I made my way to the room and was pleased with what I saw.  The bed look comfortable and I had a nice view of the ocean.

But it was when I woke up that I realized that I was one of only a few guests who were staying in the very spacious Grafton Beach Resort.

At breakfast I was the only person in the restaurant.  I grabbed some salt fish and bake, something I was told was the most popular breakfast in Trinidad and Tobago.  I tried it when I was in Guyana, and was curious to see how Tobago’s salt fish and bake compared to Guyana’s.

 

In the battle of salt fish and bake…Guyana won the opening salvo.  Not that the breakfast wasn’t good or the salt fish and bake at the Grafton Beach Resort wasn’t tasty…I just think Guyana edged it by a few inches.

Salt fish…like football…is a game of inches.

So for my first day in Tobago I decided to enjoy the pool and wander into the nearby tourist site of Fort Bennet.  It was a short 20 minute walk, and it gave me the opportunity to walk down the beach where I befriended the local beach dog.  Fort Bennet was initially built in 1680 by the British to protect the settlers.  But they were quickly driven out and it wasn’t until 1780 that Fort Bennet was back in use, this time against the French.  By the time I walked up the hill to Fort Bennet I could see why they built it there.  It was elevated and provided an amazing view of the bay.

I remained the only tourist there so I took some selfies and eventually made my to the small village of Black Rock, a short walk of about 15 minutes.

There wasn’t much to see in Black Rock, but I still was glad I made it into the village.  There is a certain vibe when visiting small villages in the Caribbean.  It’s mellow and relaxed…and authentic.  After Nassau I realized that it was entirely possible to visit the Bahamas and not really see any of it other than Atlantis.  I didn’t want to do that in Tobago and Black Rock gave me a glimpse of a more authentic Tobago than I would have got if I stay at the Grafton Beach Resort writing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over again on my laptop.

Hi Lloyd. A little slow tonight, isn’t it?

The first stop in Black Rock was the Church of the Transfiguration Anglican Church followed by the Black Rock Moravian Church, built in 1869.

Church of the Transfiguration Anglican Church

The Black Rock Moravian Church was listed as a cultural heritage site by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago and it’s was very much a unique building.    Although both churches were closed I enjoyed visiting them.

Black Rock Moravian Church

The Courland bay Heritage Museum was next, and like the Black Rock Moravian Church, was closed.  I decided to stop at a grocery store and picked up some curry powder and some dried fish before making my way back to the hotel where I stopped off and picked up some polourie and geera from a lady selling food outside the local bar.  I never tried polourie or geera, but I figured anyone calling herself the “Geera Queen” could be trusted in all matters geera.

Well, I couldn’t complain about the geera or the polourie…but the salted fish from the grocery store was something I could have skipped.  Oh well, not every meal on the road will be a knockout.

The following day I spent mostly on the beach and at the pool before I closed out my day in Tobago with a shallow reef dive of 40 feet, my first in close to thirteen years.

It was the perfect way to close out my two and a half days in Tobago.  But it was time to fly back home.  I had a long stretch ahead of me: Tobago to Port of Spain to San Juan, Puerto Rico to Newark to Houston to Hobbs.  But at least I would make my long trip home well rested from my time in Tobago.

 

Read more Finger Post Travel updates here!

Boxing: You heard it here first: Dogboe and Fukuhara would be fighting for world title

Finger Post Boxing (November 1, 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t want to gloat, but if you’ve been following my boxing reports here on The Finger Post, you’ll have noticed that we were first to predict two of the biggest developments in the lighter weight classes in October.

First, you might have remembered that back on September 13th I broke the news that former WBO mini-flyweight champion Tatsuya Fukuhara was now ranked #10 by the WBC.  I went on to predict that we might see a Fukuhara-Wanheng Menayothin before the end of the year.

Well, it’s official.  The Thai champion will go for his 49th victory against the Kumamoto native.

Then, on October 9th I speculated that during the WBO 30th Annual Congress we might see Isaac Dogboe or Marlon Tapales take on Cesar Juarez for a WBO interim belt.  At the time Juarez was slated to fight Jessie Magdaleno, the WBO junior featherweight champion on November 11th but the fight was scrapped when Magdaleno was forced to bow out with an injury.  Well, at the WBO Congress it was announced that Magdaleno would not be ready to defend his title in the near future and that Cesar Juarez would in fact be taking on the next available contender in a bid for the interim title.

So I may not be having a streak like that guy who won $14 million on the first six games of the World Series but I’m liking the momentum right now.

 

Read more Finger Post Boxing news here!

Travel: A day trip to Roseau, Dominica

The Finger Post Travel, October 30, 2017

(Roseau, Dominica, October 16-17, 2016)

 

In the days before the internet ruined all of our favorite urban myths (so John Denver wasn’t a sniper in Vietnam?) I remember hearing about a French guy who flipped out on a Greyhound. Now as a guy who rode a Greyhound from Flint Michigan to Washington D.C. once I could totally get why someone would flip out over being in a Greyhound. But in actuality the reason was he was freaking out over the length of the trip. Basically, he (according to the urban myth) bought a ticket from New York to…I don’t know…San Francisco. And after 40 hours or so when he realized he was only in Omaha he went off the deep end and tried to shoot the gremlin tinkering with the brake lines outside his window.

Sacrebleu!

Now don’t get me wrong, I am assuming it’s about as true as John Denver sniper story. But you can’t help but…wonder.

For one thing, every Greyhound bus I’ve ever been in seems like it is halfway through a hatchet job by a Twilight Zone gremlin. And second…well, the United States is big. If you are French you already can see it’s big on a map. But maps sometimes don’t prepare you for real life.

Dominica is like that.

I had a conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico in October of 2016. I arrived in San Juan a day early and decided to spend a little time exploring the Caribbean. I didn’t have much time; I’d be flying out on October 16th and flying back the next day. But I figured that would be enough time to either sit on a beach for a few hours or wander through a small capital city on one of the island nations that make up the Lesser Antilles. I had a soft spot for Dominica and found a ticket with Liat for $213. It seemed reasonable…sure I’d be spending around $300 for a day in Dominica. But I justified it by thinking about all the stupid things I ever paid $300 for.

Like this.

The flight left at 2PM on October 16th, and although I could understand why so many people hate LIAT, I myself had a good flight to Dominica. It was a short one hour and 45 minute flight to Douglas Charles International Airport and although I had to fly back at 10:45 AM, I figured I’d have enough time to explore the capital of Dominica: Roseau. From what I could tell it was a small city and it hardly seemed unreasonable to think I couldn’t see a fair portion of it in a day.

So let’s get back to that French guy on the Greyhound.

As an American we sometimes have the same response to new places as that mythical French backpacker…only in reverse. We know what 18 miles means in the United States. It’s a trip to Walmart. It’s picking up the kids from daycare. It’s a morning commute of no more than 30 minutes. So when we look at a map of Dominica, see that it is only 18 miles from one end of the island to the other we instinctively end up on I-75 or I-10 calculating distances as if Dominica had a highway running through it. I saw 18 miles and I sort of ended my inquiry there. How long could it possibly take to get to the airport to the Fort Young Hotel in Roseau? It was only 38 miles away after all.

Well, as it turns out…about 2 hours and $80 each way. I booked a room at the Fort Young Hotel since I was able to book it at a discounted rate on Hotels.com (it ran me $125) and I did not anticipate an extra $160. My day trip to Dominica was now in the $500 range…and I still hadn’t budgeted food in yet.

Fortunately for me I befriended a Canadian vet on the plane ride over and she hooked me up with a ride to my hotel for free (and even got my driver to cut me a deal on the return trip the following morning).

And it was an awesome drive. Julie was a great travel partner and the drive was, well, it was an adventure. The roads were less than stellar and I couldn’t help but wonder why they put the airport so far from the city.

 

But that just added to the overall fun of the trip over to the hotel. Unfortunately by the time I reached my hotel the sun was going down. And with me having to budget two hours to get back to the airport I was now looking at having to leave at around 7AM. I was bummed. This was looking like a wasted trip. Nonetheless I checked into my room and was more than happy with the Fort Young Hotel. It had a friendly staff and an amazing view of the ocean.

My ocean front room would have been great…had I arrived a few hours earlier. I grabbed a sandwich at the bar and went for a quick dip in the pool before I decided to call it a night. I was going to have to see Roseau between 6 and 7 AM tomorrow, which meant I would need my rest.

The day in Dominica wasn’t as bad as you would expect. I woke up early, sat on my balcony for a spell and looked at the ocean, and then hit the city. Now obviously everything was closed, although I did get a chance to buy some souvenirs from a few early morning vendors. I decided to pass on the botanical gardens (we drove through it on our way to the hotel and I realized it was something I didn’t need to really visit) and instead walked next door to the Office of the President before heading a few buildings down to St. George’s Anglican Church before walking over to the Neg Mowon Emancipation Monument.

Office of the President of Dominica
St. George’s Anglican Church
Neg Mowon Emancipation Monument

A quick walk to the docks followed and then a quick stroll to what I assumed was the French quarter before I had to head back to meet my ride.

But before we left town there was one more stop I wanted to make. I hadn’t had traditional “Dominican” food and I didn’t want to leave the country without saying I tried something, anything, Dominican. So I had my driver stop at the Sukie’s Bread shop.

I wasn’t sure what Sukie’s Bread was, but I saw it everywhere as we drove into town and I figured this would be my one chance to try something 100% Dominican. In the end…it was bread.

We took the long trip back to Douglas-Charles International Airport where I was told I would have to pay an exit fee of $23 to leave the country. So my trip to Dominica, with its one hour of wandering, ran me about $500.

I know I like to wander, but in hindsight I should have probably researched a bit more for this trip. In the end, if you go to Dominica…plan on spending more than an afternoon there.  The recovery from Hurricane Maria is underway and a quick search on Hotels.com shows that the Fort Young Hotel is back in business, and a stay there alone is almost worth a trip to Dominica.

 

Read more Finger Post travel stories here!

Boxing: Ghana and Cuba meet in the ring in historic Havana Boxing Gym

Finger Post Boxing: Ghana comes to Havana at the Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym 

October 24, 2017

It’s hard to pinpoint what would be the closest thing to boxing’s Mecca, but a strong argument would have to be made for Havana, Cuba. It is arguable that there is no other place on the planet where boxing has as strong a fan base, thanks in large part to Cuba’s success in the Olympics. Since 1968 Cuban boxers have won gold an astonishing 38 times, and almost all of those fighters have developed their world class skill in one of the most famous boxing gyms the world over: The Rafael Trejo Gimnasio de Boxeo in downtown Havana. It is a boxing gym that has seen their share of world class fighters over the years.

Well, you can add one more to the list.

Accra, Ghana’s Isaac Dogboe stopped off this afternoon (October 24, 2017) to do some pad work and breath in the atmosphere that is Cuban boxing. And after several rounds of shadow boxing and on the pads it was clear that quite a few of the local kids who gathered to watch Dogboe workout were now fans of the undefeated junior featherweight contender. And perhaps more notably, the coaching staff at the Rafael Trejo Boxing Gym were impressed with Dogboe as well.

“He’s strong,” one of the coaches said as he watched Dogboe from ringside. “And very fast.”

Dogboe was appreciative of the opportunity to workout at the historic gym.

“This is a famous gym in Cuba,” Dogboe said after his workout. “The (WBO congress) general meeting and afterwards we landed in Cuba. We were touring around and we discovered this place and we thought why not? We have boxing gloves in our bag.”

Dogboe was nonetheless humbled to have worked out in such a legendary gym.

“Home of champions indeed. It’s no different from Ghana. I came here to try their system of training. That’s why the excel. It’s practice and repetition. I just remembered my father. You do one ting over and over and over again…that’s what makes you perfect.”