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.”
El Hatico cattle ranch: The problem is the solution October 30, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Colombia, Latin America, Nature tourism, ecotourism , add a comment
VALLE DE CAUCA, Colombia – When Alicia Calle, an environmental scientist with Yale’s Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative, first told me of El Hatico Nature Reserve, her face lit up for the first time since I’d met her an hour ago. We’d been talking about the state of the environment in Colombia, a subject with much to lament, given the spread of mining operations, cattle ranching, vast monocultures of sugarcane and African palm and coca, deforestation, water contamination, the same story throughout the Americas.
What is it that gives you hope, I asked her, as I do in every interview. It was then that she pulled out a booklet and started showing me photos of El Hatico.
“Let me be clear: I don’t like cattle farming; I think it’s created terrible environmental problems and social inequalities throughout its development in Latin America. But this is a place I’d really like you to see, a place that’s turned a major problem into a part of the solution.”
Peruvian penguins and a touch of luxury August 8, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Peru, ecotourism , 2comments
PARACAS, Peru – The pungent scent of the sea washes over the landscape like the rhythmic waves, and I contemplate the pleasure of lingering here in the peaceful beauty of the Paracas Hotel and enjoying a sumptuous breakfast buffet. But I’m scheduled for the first boat to the Ballestas Isles, and the penguins await.
I gather sweater and sunglasses and hat and head for the pier, where 22 people are buckling up with lifejackets and taking their seat aboard our skiff.
As if to see us off, a line of four Peruvian pelicans sails by just over the sparkling surface of the water in search of prey.
COATEPEQUE LAKE, El Salvador – The palms are swaying restlessly in the electric darkness, waiting for the storm to arrive. Lightning flashes over Santa Ana Volcano on the far side of the lake; just a few minutes ago I was walking along the shore with Elmer, catching the last bits of sunset over the lake.
He sensed the storm coming before I did. “Ya viene el agua,” he said. Literally, “Now the water is coming.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect; rainy season notwithstanding, El Salvador gifted me with a blue sky my first full day in the country, perfect for visiting the pyramids of Tazumal and Casa Blanca, then catching a bus to this sparkling expanse of blue amid the volcanoes.
Sustainable Travel: A Wise Approach February 26, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Sustainability, ecotourism , 1 comment so far
Guest post by Chris Zwierzynski
We all know and understand that to reduce any environmental impact we might have when we travel we have to change the way we travel as whole. However, it’s a misconception that in order to partake of sustainable travel, one must make many a sacrifice.
Sustainable travel doesn’t have to mean abstain-able travel. You don’t have to forego things in their entirety; rather, you just have to give it careful consideration and maybe go about travel with a different mindset.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when embarking on a venture (or adventure) would be to first of all remember to travel with an attitude that is geared towards sustainable travel. It’s all well and good if you start a journey with a mind to travel in a sustainable fashion, but it’s a person’s attitude and ethic that will carry them through and aid them in making the right decisions.
A good – and easy – way to do this is to just not do anything unnecessary. Avoid paper by booking your travel plans and subsequent tickets online; e-tickets are a great way forwards. Support not only the indigenous culture of your destination, but support efforts that promote sustainable tourism and stay in hotels or residential facilities that also promote a sustainable way of life.
As the sayings go, “it’s easy when you know how” and “practice makes perfect”, so with this in mind, you have to understand that it might not come naturally to you, but with practice and help you too can become a sustainable travel guru. The most damaging thing you can do is to just not care, so start caring today and if you already cared, then care more!
For more travel tips and vacation inspiration, check out the Tripbase
Travel Blog / Tripbase site.
Tripbase eliminates the time-consuming and frustrating online search
process by providing travelers with personalized travel
recommendations for their next trip.
Tripbase was named Top Travel Website for Destination Ideas by Travel
and Leisure magazine in November 2008.
The Rolling Cameras of Guadalajara January 29, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Biking, Guadalajara, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability, ecotourism , add a comment
Last week I had the chance to visit with Carlos Ibarra, news photographer for El Mural and one of the founders of Camara Rodante (literally, “rolling camera”.)
This intrepid group of biking photographers is dedicated to promoting biking in a variety of ways. Besides their weekly outings, which traverse a variety of rural terrains around Guadalajara and further afield, they’ve organized get-out-the-vote campaigns, children’s outings, first aid workshops, bicycle repair workshops, and a fundraiser for Haiti – all aboard the seat of a bicycle.
From Mexico to Palestine: Carbon offsets January 10, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City, Sustainability, ecotourism , 5comments
Much has been written about the pros and cons of carbon offsets. The idea, if you haven’t been following, is that you pay money to a nonprofit organization to plant trees or invest in renewables or otherwise reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere in an attempt to offset the carbon you’ve generated.
There are many calculators online that help you to figure out how much carbon you’ve generated and where you should donate it. Carbon Footprint is a nice flexible one that lets you calculate individual aspects of your life as opposed to doing a whole audit – both can be good, but since I’m on the road, my lifestyle doesn’t easily fit into many of these calculators. Since my main impact is travel, I figured my mileage and multiplied the air travel by 1.9 to account for the increased impact airplane emissions have (the amount used by Carbon Footprint). It then lets you select from a variety of worthy projects from Kenya to Central America.
Critics compare this system with the Catholic Church’s system of indulgences in Medieval times – a system that allowed people to “buy” forgiveness for their sins by making donations to the Church. They argue that there’s a wide variance among carbon offsetting groups, none of them are regulated and there’s no way to know for sure that the trees you’re paying to plant wouldn’t be planted anyway.
Southward Bound January 6, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Esperanza Project, Latin America, Mexico, ecotourism, voluntourism , 12comments
I’ve made my list and checked it a million times; selected and reselected my gear; said my goodbyes and received good wishes and safe travel blessings from near and far. I’ve left my car keys, my smart phone and my GPS behind. I’ll be making my way by foot now and by mass transit; everything I’ll need is either in my pack or shoulder bag, or it’s something I’ll have to find along the way, or live without.
Four days and counting December 18, 2009Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Esperanza Project, Latin America, Sustainability, ecotourism , 4comments
Tuesday the movers come to put all my things into storage, and I’m fluctuating between exhilaration, panic and denial. The to-do list keeps growing, the time keeps shrinking. Here’s a piece I did for The Buzz Magazine that summarizes where I’m at right now, how I got here and where I’m going.
Digital nomads redefine the office
by Tracy L. Barnett, contributing writer
Last spring, I was handed an amazing opportunity. But at first it seemed like a disaster.
Like millions of others in this recession, I lost my job. It was especially unsettling, as I had moved to Houston not so long ago to take that job.
Nonetheless, I took stock of my situation and realized it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. My daughter was grown and nearing completion of her education; I had no mortgage, no debt, no health problems and a little bit of savings. I had a marketable skill set, and no urgent need to make a lot of money.
This might just be the moment to follow my dreams, I said to myself.
Most of my life I’d worked for someone else: Newspaper corporations, nonprofit organizations, a university. I had always wanted to see what I could do working for myself. And I’d always wanted to take a year for travel.
I spent hours surfing the web, seeking a way to make it happen, and I found that I was far from alone. In fact, an international community has emerged to share ideas and support each other in what is being called the location-independent lifestyle.