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A Vermont native raised in the resort community of Stowe, at twenty-three Mr. Charbonneau traveled to Ecuador, to visit a childhood friend serving there with the US Peace Corps. In Quito, Mr. Charbonneau entered a casino for the first time and while there met and fell in love with a young Ecuadorian woman. Within months they were married. The couple's wedding reception was thrown by the Commander of the Ecuadorian Army, General Miño. Little did Mr. Charbonneau know that destiny would forever tie him to this mysterious land and its people!
Nearly a decade would pass, during which time the General advanced to Chief of the Armed Forces Joint Command, the third most powerful position in Ecuador. Mr. Charbonneau’s mother-in-law had just recently married Eugen K. Brunner (adventurer, explorer and spy), world renowned expert on Ecuador’s lost Incan treasures. Upon Brunner's untimely death, destiny drew Mr. Charbonneau back to Ecuador and involved him within a story of international intrigue, espionage, murder, kidnapping, embezzlement, deceit, discovery and untold secrets!
No stranger to the US Embassy in Quito, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Defense, Presidential Palace and Institute of Patrimony & Culture, Mr. Charbonneau furthered Brunner's research and negotiated an Archaeological Permit, Contract and Presidential Decree for the recovery of a lost Inca treasure in the Llanganati Mountains of Ecuador. Two years of on and off negotiations, during which period the president was kidnapped, ultimately resulted in presidential approval, which was withdrawn at the last minute. Decades later, Mr. Charbonneau decided to tell his story and publish the entirety of Brunner’s writings, drawings, discoveries and secrets in an extensive tell-all book; Lust for Inca Gold: The Llanganati Treasure Story & Maps (2012). This book was followed six months later by an updated version; Lust for Inca Gold: Second Edition (2013), which included an expanded and detailed biographical account of Brunner’s life, along with new information, details and twists!
Arguably a leading expert on the topic, Mr. Charbonneau’s personal connection and involvement with this story allows him, through mere prose, to take seemingly unrelated events and draw back the veil of mere coincidence, thereby connecting the unconnected! His characters, both good and bad, are presented in a “matter of fact” style which reminds the reader that the events he relates are fact, not fiction. Mr. Charbonneau’s extensive research has rewritten history, uncovered new information and revived interest in a centuries old treasure quest! Obsession, love, political intrigue, deception, mystery, adventure, his books have it all!
Shortly after the failure of the negotiations in Ecuador, the Charbonneau family relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada. Married for nearly thirty years and then divorced, Mr. Charbonneau is the proud parent of five children. As a father of five living in Las Vegas for decades, frugality was never an option, it was a necessity! Learning how to stretch a budget, how to support and entertain a large family on limited resources in a resort community, provided Mr. Charbonneau with the background, skills and knowledge for his latest undertaking . . . a Las Vegas Travel Guide for those on a budget.
Mr. Charbonneau's knowledge of hotel operations came from years of employment at the front desk and in reservations at a small eastern resort. As a tourist he's stayed at over thirty Las Vegas valley casino/hotels! As a consumer his philosophy is to avoid hotels with a resort fee, unless he is staying on a complimentary with the resort fee waived (not all Vegas hotels waive the resort fee on a comp); staying on a buy-one get-one free offer (where the resort fee is waived on free nights); or when using a coupon/reward for a free night with payment of the resort fee. Mr. Charbonneau's recent Vegas visit for example, straddled June and July 2016 for fifteen hotel nights. Twelve nights were comps (resort fees waived), two nights were free on a reward (required payment of resort fees) and one night was a promotional rate at a property with no resort fees that included a food credit. His total hotel cost was a mere $95 plus tax! He also received $45 in Free Slot Play and $60 in Food & Beverage Credits!
Mr. Charbonneau's knowledge of casino operations came from working in the Slot Departments of two major casinos, from entry level to Slot Shift Manager. He also worked on the production line at International Game Technology (IGT) refurbishing and assembling Slot & Video Poker machines. As a consumer he has experienced one form of gambling or another in three countries and four states. Years ago, and for a period of four years, he earned a living (and comps) playing low limit Video Poker machines!