Call of Quetzalcoatl: Materializing the Vision November 23, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Ecovillages, Healing retreats, Indigenous culture, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability , 13comments
TEMICTLA, Mexico – If there were ever any doubt that Quetzalcoatl lives, that doubt was dispelled in one moist, glistening, luminous week in the heart of Mexico.
Here in Temictla, a sacred valley, a tiny ecovillage and spiritual retreat center on the edge of Chalmita, a pilgrimage destination to millions of people of diverse traditions, a far-flung family reunited under the light of a waxing moon in November of 2013. It’s a family of many nations and many traditions, a family whose multitudinous members have dedicated themselves heart and soul to the survival of humanity and of life on Earth.
Adventure meets elegance in Barra de Navidad October 30, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Mexico, Nature tourism, Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
BARRA DE NAVIDAD, Jalisco, Mexico – The crashing waves and a gentle breeze serve as the backdrop for an Italian opera here at the expansive Bar de los Chicanos, atop the elegant Hotel Alondra. When we first arrived, it was a rousing salsa set, a hopeful bid to fill the ample dance floor overlooking the sea; but seeing that today’s Hora Feliz (Happy Hour) clients were writers and conversationalists and loungers rather than dancers, the accommodating bartender changed the tune.
It’s like that, here on the Costalegre, Mexico’s “Happy Coast.” Whatever your mood, you can find the circumstance, but more likely than not, it will be laid back – particularly at this time of year, when the heat obliges one to take a more contemplative pace.
I came here with my sister Toni in October, before the beginning of high season and just at the end of hurricane season. News of the Category 3 Hurricane Raymond closing in on the coast of poor sodden Acapulco, struggling to recover from last month’s Hurricane Manuel, definitely puts a damper on our plans to mosey up the stretch of coast from Barra on up to Puerto Vallarta, exploring the villages and beaches that make up the Costalegre.
In the Wake of the Ancients August 19, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure , 1 comment so far
By Tracy L. Barnett
The sun’s first rays touched the outlines of the mountains outside my window, and the whir of a boat engine broke the gentle silence. Aboard the sailboat Apetahi, its captain, the towering, tattooed Turo, lifted anchor. His coworker, Hinano, worked below decks in the kitchen, a fragrant tiare blossom tucked behind her ear, a ready smile and a cheery Iaorana—the Tahitian equivalent of “Aloha”— for sleepy passengers climbing up from their cabins. Living from the sea as her forebears have for a thousand years, she was preparing a tender poisson cru from a fresh-caught tuna, seasoned lightly with just-squeezed coconut milk and a touch of lemon.
Today, we were headed to Raiatea, home of Marae Taputapuatea, the most important precolonial temple of prayer in Polynesia: From New Zealand in the southwest, to Hawai‘i in the north, to the Marquesas in the northeast, people have converged on this spot for centuries with their offerings and petitions. Some still do. At this spiritual center of the Polynesian universe, at the foot of the sacred mountain overlooking the sea, I sought an answer to the question that brought me.
Click on the link below to read the rest of the story.
Border-hopping in Basque Country June 9, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure , 1 comment so far
BAYONNE, Aquitane department, France – The high-speed TGV train dropped us in five hours from Paris at the grand old station near the River Adour in Bayonne, and we began by wandering the narrow streets of the medieval city, gazing up at the gothic towers of its cathedrals and stopping for our first taste of the exquisite Bayonne chocolate. Bayonne, as we learned, is famous for the invention of the Bayonet – in 1640, on rue de Faure (Blacksmith street), to be precise. Nowadays it’s better known for its chocolate, its ham, and the big fiesta every summer drawing up to a million people and featuring a bull run similar to Pamplona’s.
We were here to visit Mathilde, a lovely woman I’d met online through Couchsurfing, and to spend the night in Bayonne before crossing the Spanish border in the morning. It was hard to believe that this vivacious young woman is 70, but when she began sharing the stories of her life, it was clear that she had jumped feet-first and kicking into life a long time ago.
Springtime in Paris June 4, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Uncategorized , 3comments
PARIS, France – We arrived at Charles de Gaulle International Airport at 8:40 a.m., but between looking in vain for our lost luggage, filing a claim, learning to negotiate the metro system and buying a local SIM card for the phone, it was nearly 11 by the time that we emerged from the subterranean maze for my first view of the City of Light.
Unfortunately, as we approached the stairway leading to the outer world, we saw it being pelted from above by fat raindrops. We had arrived during the latest, wettest spring any Parisian could remember.
I’m traveling with my 17-year-old niece, Aniqa Rahman, who just finished four years of high school French studies, which is already proving enormously helpful. We had hit on the idea because of her studies, and because I had discovered family roots in Normandy, where a friend from San Antonio had invited me to come for a visit. Put all together, it seemed that France was calling to us.
Healing at the Casa Holística Sol May 10, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Healing retreats , 4comments
BARRA DE NAVIDAD, Jalisco, Mexico – A pair of roosters herald the dawn as I curl among the blankets in the Universe Room of the Casa Holistica Sol. The vibrant magenta beginning to streak the sky outside my arched window and the faraway rhythm of waves on the sand is call to me, and I quickly grab my camera and binoculars and head out to explore this little Pacific paradise.
It was not my intention to be here now but I had recently befriended the proprietor of this place, a warm and winsome wise-woman and healer by the name of Lucero, and she had whisked me away from my home in the highlands. It would be an all-too-brief stay – I had to be home in less than 48 hours, and 10 of that would be the journey to Barra and back again – but it was worth it.
The World on Wheels May 9, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure , add a comment
For those who rely on a wheelchair, traversing the Great Wall of China or zip lining in Costa Rica might seem impossible. But at least two Houstonians, Lex Frieden and John Sage, are living proof that it’s not. Both decided long ago that their limited mobility would not be a barrier to their dreams of world travel, and both of them can boast itineraries that most people would envy.
“If I can get there, I can pretty much figure out how to get around,” said Frieden, a disabilities advocate who’s been called a chief architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Frieden, a quadriplegic who lost most of his mobility in a car crash in 1967, has received a tribal greeting from Maoris in the jungles of New Zealand, visited Kuwait right after the Iraq War, and explored the Great Wall 20 years ago, before a wheelchair lift was installed.
Read the rest of the story here
Danger vs. beauty in the Middle East April 9, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
Alfred and Joyce Goodman don’t consider themselves adventure travelers; you’re more likely to find them aboard a luxury cruise than a wilderness safari. Nevertheless, they came away from a recent cruise through the Middle East with stories that hearkened more from the pages of Sinbad’s fabled voyages than Travel and Leisure.
Israeli security guards kept a watchful eye as they passed along the shores of Sudan, and a fellow passenger regaled them with stories from a cruise in which her ship had been attacked by Somali pirates. Among the images etched in the Goodmans’ memories: a Bedouin guide raised with his nomadic family in the desert, a lost city carved in stone, and gold-trimmed minarets on a snow-white mosque.
For the Western traveler, the Middle East has always been a destination that thrills with the mystery of the unknown. On the positive side, it’s an eye-opening journey into another reality, one that is ancient and yet very modern. On the down side is the instability that has plagued the region, and never more so than now, in the years following the Arab Spring, as citizens struggle to take control from repressive governments.
Plenty of travelers, like the Goodmans, are taking the risks in stride and heading for the Middle East for the journey of a lifetime.
Finding the Global Fun Factor March 1, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure , 1 comment so far
For two decades, Deborah Luik flirted with disaster all over the world. This mercurial traveler, software architect and dog trainer was kidnapped in Cyprus, scammed in Portugal and harassed by drunks while pregnant in Japan. To Deborah, it was all part of the adventure.
Before she knew better, she rode an elephant in the traffic of Jaipur and hitched rides with a British officer through Wales and a Muslim porn smuggler on a camel through India. Naturally, when she got married, it would be with a fellow adventurer.She and Paul, a mechanical engineer, fell in love during road trips through northern Mexico and were married in Houston in September 1992. For their honeymoon, they headed for Costa Rica to go rafting. Naturally, it was rainy season, and they nearly perished in the floodwaters.
Top 13 Travel Myths for 2013 February 1, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
As they planned their trip to Italy, Joel and Meredith Vela kept hearing from friends who’d been there: “Don’t worry about learning Italian – everyone there speaks English!”
Nevertheless, Joel got an audio course to learn the basics. The best parts of the trip were off the beaten track, in little villages where almost nobody spoke any English.
The misconception that everyone everywhere speaks English is one of many that can get in the way of the perfect trip. Personal-injury attorney Stephen Boutros recently discovered another one: A hotel’s “lowest available room rate” isn’t necessarily so. He discovered that by entering “hotel promo code” in Google you can find codes that will reduce your rate by as much as 30 percent.