Call of Quetzalcoatl: Materializing the Vision November 23, 2013Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Ecovillages, Healing retreats, Indigenous culture, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability , 11comments
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.
From caterpillars to butterflies: Mayan dreams for 2012 January 1, 2012Posted by Tracy in : Sustainability , 1 comment so far
The last golden rays of 2011 slipped away gloriously yesterday, lingering across the chalky face of the Pinnacles, an ancient towering limestone formation in the north of Boone County, Missouri – one of the places on this planet I will always call home.
The unseasonable warmth had us removing layers as we scrambled up to catch a glimpse of the world from on high. Another climatic oddity in a year that was full of them. Change is in the air, for those with eyes to see: We are closing the book on a year that saw vast swaths of the American Southwest go up in smoke, millions of dollars of hurricane damage in Vermont, a monster tornado that erased big chunks of Joplin, massive flooding in Australia, the Phillippines and Southeast Asia and record-breaking heat waves in Europe and much of the United States.
My mother’s garden in the Missouri countryside was cooked before it could be harvested. Where I live, in Mexico, widespread crop failure due to extended drought pushed more subsistence farmers to leave the land for the traffic-choked cities or for a desperate, life-threatening dash for El Norte, the forbidden promise of employment across the northern border. But today, on this balmy December day, global warming seems a welcome respite from the bone-chilling cold that usually accompanies us at this time of year. So I won’t complain.
Much has been written about this turning of the ages; no place on Earth is more excited about the Mayan prophecies than Mexico, birthplace of the Mayan calendar that ends this year. To me, it’s impossible not to link this prophecy with the profound changes we are facing. I’m not speaking of Armageddon – rather, a time of reckoning as we end a cycle of industrial excess. The Mayan people I have spoken with are laughing at the notion that the end of the calendar means the end of the world. It’s simply the end of a cycle, and the beginning of a new one, they reassure anyone who asks. But in more serious conversations, they shared with me their hope, as fervent as my own, that a long-awaited shift is pending, and in fact has already begun.
“After five centuries of oppression, we’re ready for a change,” Rony, a Mayan friend from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, told me. “It’s the only hope we have.”
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.
Hotel Ajau: A green deal in Guatemala City May 11, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Guatemala, Sustainability , add a comment
GUATEMALA CITY – I have spent the past week making contacts, getting the lay of the land and working on freelance stories, and I couldn’t have found a better home-away-from-home here in the capital city than Hotel Ajau.
I’ll admit I chose it because I read in Rough Guides that it offered a good price, free wireless, good coffee and a nice atmosphere in the historic district. Little did I know that I had inadvertently chosen the city’s first “green” hotel – at least the first to be certified as such by Guatemala’s Green Deal organization.
Nor did I know it was the labor of love of three generations of French-Guatemalans. Three generations of the Luis Rey Tarot family have infused this elegant historic neo-colonial building (or republican, as it’s called here) with a sense of home.
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!
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At home with the Subcoyote February 21, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Ecovillages, Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City, Sustainability, Tepoztlan , add a comment
Outside in the darkness, up in the hills not far from here, a chorus of coyotes is greeting the coming of the dawn. How appropriate, I think with a smile. Here in Huehuecoyotl, place of the old, old coyote, I’ve just bid farewell to the greatest coyote of all, Subcoyote Alberto Ruz Buenfil, who is letting me use his home as a base for a few days. Now it’s his time to head into Mexico City, where he is taking the lessons of the Rainbow Caravan for Peace into the barrios of that other place of coyotes, Coyoacán.
Huehuecoyotl: An eco-power center in the hills of Morelos February 19, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Ecovillages, Mexico, Sustainability, Tepoztlan , 4comments
Long before I ever planned this trip, I learned of Huehuecoyotl, an ecovillage inhabited by an international group of movers and shakers nestled into one of the most magical valleys of Mexico, up in the hills outside of Tepoztlán, about an hour outside of Mexico City.
This week I finally got a chance to go and see it for myself, and to meet some of its inhabitants. It was as beautiful as I’d imagined; constructed in the early 1980s by artists, green architects and permaculturists, the community is infused with a colorful yet gentle aesthetic that pleases the spirit as well as the eye.
Guadalajara Guerreros: Fighting for a better world February 19, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Esperanza Project, Guadalajara, Mexico, Sustainability , add a comment
Today I awoke in the verdant mountains near Tepoztlán in Central Mexico, far from the commotion of city life in Guadalajara. Before I move on, I want to take a few moments to acknowledge the work of 24 extremely dedicated, talented and creative people I met during my time in that city, people who touched my life and gave me hope for a better future.
To read about them, please visit Guerreros de Guadalajara, a bilingual entry in my Flickr account.
La Minerva, warrior woman of old and symbol of modern-day Guadalajara, photo courtesy of TheLittleTx, Flickr Creative Commons.
It’s not enough to be biodegradeable… January 31, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Guadalajara, Mexico, Sustainability , add a comment
Life in Guadalajara is not so different from life in Houston. Sometimes, only the language is different.
My friend Alicia, like me, struggles to remember to bring the cloth shopping bags when she goes to the supermarket. This day, she remembered. Here’s a little reminder she likes to keep handy:
“It’s not enough to be biodegradeable; it’s necessary to be bioAGREEABLE.”
I liked the way this clever slogan captured one of the most important principles of sustainability: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” In that order.
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.