jump to navigation

Cuba to USA: Welcome Back! August 28, 2016

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Cuba, Latin America , add a comment

By Tracy L. Barnett
For Westways Magazine

IMG_0189 (2)

It was my first walk down the Malecón, the famous seawall that has protected Havana for a century along the Straits of Florida. I ended up at a seaside café, where I met a friendly man with a baseball cap. He called himself John and showed me his ID card, which identified him as Juan.

“My parents named me John, and I was John until the revolution,” he explained. “Then, with all the problems—you know, John Kennedy, the Bay of Pigs—it just wasn’t possible to have that name anymore, and the government changed it.”

He wanted to be sure that I knew, however, that he had no hard feelings about the difficult past between our countries.

“We Cubans have nothing against the American people,” he declared. (more…)

Común Tierra: A journey through sustainable communities of the Americas July 27, 2014

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Consumer travel, Eco-Nomads, ecotourism, Ecovillages, Latin America, Nature tourism, Permaculture , add a comment

Minhoca Ecuador
(All photos courtesy of Común Tierra)

Editor’s note: In November of 2010, as I was winding down my journey through the Americas, documenting sustainability initiatives in the 10 countries I visited, my path crossed with that of Ryan Luckey and Leticia Rigatti, the couple who make up Común Tierra. They were doing exactly what I had wanted to do but ran out of time, funds and energy. They have spent the past four years creating a body of work that is unparalleled in this area, planting seeds of sustainability as they go with their workshops and seed bank and presentations. Their journey carried them throughout the Americas aboard the Minhoca, a motor home outfitted with a wide range of “ecotecnias” or ecological technologies that help the travelers live in a way that’s consistent with their values, while making their home a rolling demonstration project for sustainability.
(more…)

Call of Quetzalcoatl: Materializing the Vision November 23, 2013

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, Ecovillages, Healing retreats, Indigenous culture, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability , 12comments

Closing circle

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.

(more…)

Meet Anna and Dave, the Permacyclists July 14, 2011

Posted by Tracy in : Uncategorized , add a comment

Permacyclists

Meet Dave and Anna, the Permacyclists.

She was a corporate lawyer from Brussels; he was a sociologist from New York. Neither of them was happy with their chosen profession, and after a great deal of soul searching, they decided to do what many dream of but few actually do: They quit their jobs, studied permaculture, bought bicycles and headed off across Africa, pedaling and working their way through 12 countries, 12,000 kilometers and 16 months from organic farm to organic farm, sharing what they’d learned along the way.

Now they’ve landed in Mexico and are launching a Phase 2 of their journey, but with a difference. This time they’re bringing a video camera and sound equipment, and documenting the stories of people working on solutions to the many environmental problems they have learned about in their travels. Their goal is to make it to the Earth Summit in Rio in June 2012. And this time they’re going by bus, instead of bike, to give them time to do reporting, writing and producing for their blog.

I was inspired by their story and by their plan, since in some ways it parallels my own – so we got together and shared stories. Here’s a little bit of theirs.


(more…)

Tourists and Turtles May 10, 2011

Posted by Tracy in : Adventure, ecotourism, voluntourism , 2comments

Baja SEE Turtles 073

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.”
(more…)

Giving Thanks, Making Peace November 25, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Colombia, El Salvador, Esperanza Project, Guatemala, Mexico, Mexico City, Travel wisdom , 5comments

camino

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Thanksgiving day – I awoke this morning far from home and family but filled with a profound sense of gratitude.

Grateful for the sun that was just beginning to brighten the sky outside my window; grateful for the dear friends who have given me a home in this city of cities. Grateful for the health and the support of my family, who continue to love me faithfully despite my wandering ways.

Most of all on this day, I’m grateful for the path I’ve been given this year, a path that has led me from inspiration to inspiration as I traveled from Mexico to Argentina, seeking to learn from those who are each changing our world in their own way.
(more…)

A Mother's Day greeting from the Racoons May 11, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Guatemala , add a comment

Mother’s Day is celebrated here in Guatemala on the 10th of May, regardless of what day of the week it falls on.

project management assignment

So today was the big day – and I do mean big.

It began at 6:30 am with a mobile loudspeaker blasting an upbeat blessing from the streets, mañanitas-style. That was followed by fireworks, and all day I continued to receive kisses and hugs and very sincere blessings just for the fact that I have a beautiful daughter – which is already blessing enough.
(more…)

A Mother’s Day thanks to Guatemalan world changers May 11, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Guatemala , 3comments

Sunset, coming into Quetzaltenango/Xela

QUETZALTENANGO, Guatemala – I awoke this sparkling Mother’s Day to the sight of the Santa Maria volcano from my rooftop, rising green and conical over the mountains that surround this charming city in the highlands. Quetzaltenango, known to Guatemalans by its indigenous name, Xela, is quite literally a breath of fresh air.

The slap-slap-slap of the ladies in the kitchen next door “tortillando,” making tortillas, is punctuated by laughter and chitchat.
(more…)

Surfing the couches in Guatemala City May 1, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Consumer travel, Guatemala , 1 comment so far
Mealtime is a special occasion with Cristina Diaz, here in the beautiful and eclectic home she helped to design.

Mealtime is a special occasion with Cristina Diaz, here in the beautiful and eclectic home she helped to design.

GUATEMALA CITY – The city sparkled below me like a carpet of diamonds, flung carelessly over the valley and clinging to the surrounding mountains. This is probably as beautiful as Guatemala’s capital city gets, I thought, then scolded myself for the unwelcome thought. I only know the city from reading about it, and from a single pass through to the airport. Hardly enough to judge. I should know by now that you can’t judge a city by the media coverage – look at Mexico City, for example, which I’ve come to love.

And indeed my first night in the Guatemala City has put the lie to the widespread condemnation of Central America’s largest megalopolis. Thanks to Couchsurfing.com, I had friends waiting for me with dinner and directions, maps and guides and ideas for my project. I took a taxi to their beautiful home next to a park in a leafy neighborhood in Zona 2 and received a family welcome.
(more…)

At home with the Subcoyote February 21, 2010

Posted by Tracy in : Ecovillages, Latin America, Mexico, Mexico City, Sustainability, Tepoztlan , add a comment

Alberto home

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.
(more…)