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.
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.
Three perfect days for Dad on the Riviera Maya December 27, 2011Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability, ecotourism , 5comments
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Quintana Roo – A light breeze moves in the jungle beyond our patio at the Grand Velas resort; birds call to each other with liquid notes, and my mother reads her Bible beside me as my father sleeps.
We’re winding to the close of our action-packed itinerary – maybe too action-packed, I reflect, but as Dad would say, “We had ‘er to do.”
Unforgettable moments flip through the slideshow of my memory: my father’s boyish grin lighting up in spite of himself as he stood, lifejacket up around his ears, the dolphin leaning in and kissing his cheek. Shaking his head in disbelief as our two waiters explained the special six-course meal that the famous French chef at Piaf, Michele Mustiere, had prepared for him, taking into account all of the complicated restrictions of his diet. Seeing him lying back on a canopied lounge on the beach, soaking up the sun and the attentions of an efficient and watchful staff.
My factory-worker dad, father of nine and grandfather of a houseful of rambunctious little ones, had never come close to such luxury. He hadn’t even known that it existed. A shadetree mechanic and consummate fixer of broken things, I found him examining the cooling system in our suite and chatting up the shuttle drivers and motorcycle salesmen we would meet along the way.
Tourists and Turtles May 10, 2011Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, ecotourism, voluntourism , 2comments
Story and photos by Melissa Gaskill
This blog frequently covers travel that makes a difference – trips that incorporate volunteering, are culturally sensitive, support local businesses, and respect the human and natural environment – or all of the above. I wrote a guest post about such a trip about a year ago, Turtle Rescue on the Eco Side of Baja. More and more places, particularly in developing countries, see this kind of tourism as a sustainable way to protect sea turtles. At the 31st Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation, held in San Diego April 12-16, several presentations reported on programs that have seen success, so I thought I’d share them here.
SEE Turtles, a US based non-profit, promotes travel that supports conservation, organizing its own trips to Baja California, Costa Rica and Trinidad.
“We know tourism can be bad for people and animals, especially when done in an unplanned and uncontrolled way,” director Brad Nahill told symposium attendees. “Or it can have positive impacts, including direct financing of conservation and research, reduced dependency on direct use of resources (such as eating sea turtle eggs), increased monitoring, and an increased local constituency. We use local businesses, share commissions, and do additional fundraising, education, volunteer recruiting, and advocacy.”
Home at last (my Mexican home, that is) January 19, 2011Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Ecovillages, Mexico , 5comments
It was sunrise when I saw my daughter Tara off at the airport, a tearful farewell to be sure, but one filled with joy at knowing that we are both following our dreams, and that the distance, as my sister Tami once said, is only physical.
It was the journey I had dreamed of and then laid awake nights worrying about: Would we really be able to pull it off? In the end, we did. We spent 10 action-packed days on the road, covering more than 2,500 miles – every step along the way, receiving reminders to SLOW DOWN and to take care of the present moment.
Some of those reminders were costly, others just funny. Many times I looked in the rear-view mirror at the utility trailer I was hauling and thought of my pioneer great-great-grandmother Caroline, who packed all her belongings into a covered wagon and traveled to the wilds of Missouri to start a new life. Apparently some of her pioneer spirit was my heritage, but in an era of internet, motor vehicles and airlines, it’s a much, much easier proposition.