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Waiting in vain for Obama

Disappointment marked many faces of fans who, having for hours awaited the arrival of US President Barack Obama at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain yesterday, were finally cheated of the opportunity of seeing him.

Rather than being driven through the hotel's entrance , like the other Heads of Government/State, Obama was taken through Dock Road to enter the hotel through the rear.

"The Beast" was driven into the hotel's loading bay, which is adjacent to the nine-storey car park located on the compound and Obama was whisked away by Secret Service through the kitchen area into the building.

Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton-although her entourage drove through the hotel's driveway-went through a back door.

From as early as midday, hundreds of media personnel, both international and local, stood behind red and blue velvet-covered barricades, attentively looking out for a sign of "the Beast".

The media were kept on the eastern side of the hotel, away from the entrance of the hotel's lobby.

Summit delegates and even National Secretariat staff started joining the crew, after learning that the first black president of the United States had arrived in the country 20 minutes ahead of scheduled time.

At the Media Centre, eyes were stuck to the numerous television monitors, placed on six floors, that were showing the arrivals of heads, live.

When Air Force One was spotted circling in the air, hearts started beating faster and many waited with bated breath to see Obama.

Minutes later, the US President was spotted on the staircase of Air Force One with a smile on his face, causing screams of joy and thunderous applause in the centre's hallways.

As soon as the entourage drove out of the airport's south terminal, those in the Media Centre started heading down the elevator and stairwells to join the hundreds already in Hyatt's driveway.

There, the anticipation only grew as other heads, including Prime Minister Patrick Manning, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales of Bolivia, arrived.

But as the hours went by, the crowd started dispersing after realising Obama would not be seen.