>> Thursday, July 30, 2009
From an article by Susan Steward posted on Ezine:
While wandering around the markets of Yucatán, you'll soon encounter some strange-looking fruits and vegetables. We're home to a number of unique varieties of produce - while visiting, try them out!
Looking like something drawn by Dr. Seuss, the pitahaya is a bright pink cactus fruit. Eaten raw, it's mildly sweet and low in calories. Like a kiwi, it's full of tiny, indigestible seeds. It makes a great addition to a fruit salad, and can be juiced.
Nance is a small, tart, yellow cherry-like fruit with a strong flavor and penetrating scent. The fruits are eaten raw or cooked as dessert, and in colonial times were included in soup or in stuffing for meats. They are also made into a candy, Dulce de Nance, prepared with the fruit cooked in sugar and water.
Guaya, a relative of the lychee, has a thin but rigid layer of skin, traditionally cracked by the teeth. Inside the skin is the tart, tangy, cream pulp of the fruit, which is sucked by putting the whole fruit inside the mouth.
Saramuyo is another alien-looking fruit from Yucatán! It's known elsewhere as sugar apple or sweetsop. This member of the anona family is found in local markets, especially in the Valladolid area of the Yucatán. It has the green, scaly skin typical of the anonas, with soft, sweet white pulp used in ices, ice cream and aguas.
>> Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Photographers don't even have to get wet to enter the photo contest. This entry shows pelagic seabirds impacted by marine debris, although they are in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument located in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Photo by Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries/Marine Photobank
From an announcement of the Ocean in Focus photography contest:
SeaWeb’s Marine Photobank and Project AWARE Foundation are teaming up once again to bring you the 2nd Annual Ocean in Focus Conservation Photography Contest. We challenge ocean lovers worldwide to submit their most compelling marine conservation images to this one-of-a-kind photo contest.
Focusing on conservation photography—an emerging area of nature photography—this contest seeks to uncover conservation issues and depict human impacts (positive and negative) on our marine ecosystems. This contest aims to capture these truths and to inspire action among its participants and viewers.
Conservation photographers worldwide are taking this opportunity to illuminate ocean pressures and challenges as well as solutions. Contest entries may depict environmental issues including, but not limited to: unsustainable fishing practices, pollution and debris, ocean dumping, oil spills, global warming, the effects of sea level rise, coastal development and endangered and threatened marine animals and ecosystems.
Images illustrating the human conservation efforts implemented in local communities to combat ocean degradation are also strongly encouraged. These may include beach and oil spill cleanups, educational community events, creative recycling, removal of derelict fishing gear, marine species rehabilitation and more.
>> Tuesday, July 28, 2009
From an article by Glenn Hasek on Green Lodging News:
HEATHROW, FLA.—Green Lodging News has learned that AAA will include an “eco” icon in its 2010 TourBook editions to indicate properties that promote environmental and energy conservation. The “eco” option will also be included as an advanced search option in AAA’s hotels section on its website. Only those properties that are AAA approved or Diamond rated will be eligible. Properties must also be a certified green lodging site as part of one of a number of state or national green lodging programs. For example, in order for a property in Florida to be included, it must be not only be AAA approved or Diamond rated, but also part of the Florida Green Lodging Program.
According to Heather Hunter, public relations manager for AAA in Heathrow, Fla., just as a property will be noted as having a pool, a casino, allowing pets, etc., it will be designated as eco-friendly. It is something AAA members are interested in, Hunter says. A section in front of each TourBook will explain the meaning of the “eco” icon.
>> Monday, July 27, 2009
From an article on yourtavelchooice.com:
Planeterra is giving away a voluntourism trip for two to Costa Rica Sea Turtle Conservation Project, through BudgetTravel’s “True Stories” contest. The “True Stories” section highlight funny, strange, heartwarming, ridiculous (brief 250-word) travel stories, and the editor picks the best story. To win the Planeterra trip, enter your true travel story for the summer edition (deadline: August 28, 2009).
About the Costa Rica Sea Turtle Conservation Project
This sea turtle project is a science-based conservation program, which was created with the purpose of protecting female sea turtles, nests, and hatchlings laid on the Matapalo beach, against poachers and natural and introduced predators. A turtle hatchery protects the eggs of this endangered species and the program has ensured the survival of the sea turtles with a large increase in the number of hatchlings in the area. Local staff and volunteers also collect information about nesting activities that is shared with the community and local and regional authorities.
>> Thursday, July 23, 2009
From a news release issued by ClimatePath:
Moraga, CA (PRWEB) July 22, 2009 -- A recent survey of travel professionals in the ecotourism and sustainable travel industry by the offset provider ClimatePath found that the majority of travelers engaging in green travel want an authentic experience, while doing no harm to the communities or sensitive areas they visit. But sorting out which tour providers and lodges to travel with remains a challenge. . . .
Informed consumers can do their homework by asking these simple questions of their prospective tour operators.
1. How do you monitor your impact . . . ?
2. Do you put money into the local community . . .?
3. Who is covering my air travel footprint? A single trip to another continent can result in 3 or 4 tons of CO2, increasing your annual carbon footprint by as much as 20%, and contributing to global warming, which threatens many ecologically sensitive and exotic locations. Tour operators tend to leave this to the individual traveler. While the impact of air travel is large, doing something about it can be cheap. ClimatePath offers certified offsets originating from many eco-destination areas for as little as $11/ton. Offsetting an overseas flight adds only 2-3% to the cost of air travel. . . .
4. What about doing more . . .?
5. Will I be comfortable? This may seem like an obvious question, but it's important to have the right expectations. . . .
As a final note, it also makes sense to see how long the program or operator has been in place, how it is viewed by the local community, and how experienced the staff is. Authenticity requires a good working relationship, experience, and strong partnerships in the area being visited.
>> Wednesday, July 22, 2009
From an article posted on ETurboNews:
The Yucatan is a magical land where the past becomes the present every day. With its roots on display at Chichen Itza, Uxmal, or Ek Balam, the Mayan culture is a component of the Yucatan’s culture. With fascinating gastronomy mixing its heritage of Mayan recipes with Creole influences, the culinary exploration of its rich history is a fun way to entice your palate and brush up on your history knowledge, too.
Fusing many of the ultimately unique components of the Yucatan into its promotional efforts has been done with Yucatan.travel. Formerly marketed under a .com address, the Yucatan government adopted .travel to elevate the exposure of its beauties to the end consumer. Knowing that travelers are looking for more specified information, the Yucatan government aligned its sales and branding goals in its new website.
After its launch, www.Yucatan.travel received over 194,000 visitors to its site. This year, the organization expects to receive roughly 223,000 visitors, which would represent a 20 percent increase.
“We adopted .travel because we know that today, travelers are searching on the web for specialized information,” stated Saul M. Ancona Salazar, general director of the Secretariat of Tourist Promotion of the State of Yucatan. “With our Yucatan.travel site, we are seeing increasing numbers of site visits.”
>> Tuesday, July 21, 2009
From an article by Susan Derby in the Los Angeles Times:
As we spend ever more time navigating freeways, texts and tweets, and takeout menus, many of us, when we come up for air, crave a dose of nature. And since we’ve all got busy lives, we want to go big when we finally have some time for an adventure. We swim with dolphins and whale sharks (I’ve blogged about this), schmooze with alligators and snorkel with sea lions.
With one of these amazing experiences with the animal-kind, we get to learn a little something while having fun. No harm, no foul, right?
Not exactly, according to Robin Andersen, a Fordham University professor who is studying aspects of the fast-growing ecotourism industry, which, it turns out, isn’t always as green as it may seem. In an article on the university’s website for which she is interviewed, she states the need for tourists to become more involved in wildlife conservation, rather than just going and having fun in animal habitat.
Tourists don’t realize that their adventures can leave a substantial impact on the natural world, and the ecotourism sector is full of unregulated and unmonitored tour operators, according to the article. Published earlier this month, the piece further explains the situation:
“Take, for instance, an experience that allows travelers to swim with dolphins, an attraction that is popular at many vacation destinations around the world. Tourists are boated to an area of ocean where food is used to lure the marine mammals to the surface. This regular feeding by humans changes natural behaviors and leads to habituation, leaving the animals more vulnerable to other human activities such as fishing and boating.”
>> Monday, July 20, 2009
From an article by Tony Davis in the Azisona Daily Star:
One jaguar died and one survived a historic release into the jungle of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula — an effort aided by an Arizona veterinarian and at least two Arizona biologists.
The dead jaguar, about 2 years old, was found in the jungle about nine days after her release in late May. Her body was so badly decomposed that officials said it was impossible to determine why she died.
The surviving jaguar, age 5 to 7, is still roaming under the dense canopies of the privately owned nature preserve where she was released. Pictures taken by cameras placed in the area show she is in very good condition — "fat and sassy," said Ole Alcumbrac, a Lakeside, Ariz., veterinarian who helped organize the jaguar release in cooperation with the Mexican government.
Carried out after two years of planning, this was the first release of jaguars from zoos that made use of a wide variety of techniques aimed at preparing the animals to survive in the wild, officials associated with the project said. It was probably one of the first jaguar releases from zoos anywhere.
Alcumbrac and other authorities who worked on the release proclaimed it a success, despite the death. They said the surviving cat's progress showed that jaguars held captive for some time still can survive in the wild. They also raised the possibility that released jaguars could provide breeding stock for areas where the cats have been eliminated.
>> Thursday, July 16, 2009
From a report by David Wilkening posted on TravelMole:
Don’t get him wrong. Arthur Frommer likes cruises but “travel, it’s not.”
“At best, it’s a prelude to travel, like the appetizers that precede a meal, like an hors d’oeuvre. It’s like those whirlwind tours by escorted motor coach that used to bring you 13 countries in 14 days,” said the 80-year-old Frommer, the dean of travel writing whose best-selling books years ago told tourists how to do Europe on $5 a day.
At most stops, he complains, cruisers have six-or-so hours to look around, always sensitive to the fact that they must return to the ship in time – or else the vessels will sail on without its passenger.
“If the stop is on a small island (Mykonos, Santorini) or coastal resort (Kusadasi in Turkey), you alight at a once-charming village that’s been transformed into a crowded shopping center,” he writes.
Even on those occasional stops (like Istanbul) where the ship stays overnight, the arrival usually is in the early afternoon, and the next day’s departure also is early afternoon, “so you have only a few hours on each of those days to explore the city,” Mr Frommer says.
>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009
From an article on GreenBiz.com:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors has agreed to support global guidelines for sustainable tourism and will urge its member cities to adopt the criteria developed by a coalition of organizations that includes the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
The agreement came today when the conference voted to approve a resolution from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who called for the organization's endorsement of the Partnership for Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
The partnership is a coalition of more than 32 international organizations involved in conservation, the travel industry and development. The partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the U.N. Environment Programme, the U.N. Foundation and the U.N. World Tourism Organization.
Last fall after more than 15 months of work, the coalition unveiled the sustainable tourism guidelines, which were derived from more than 4,500 industry best practices from around the world. The standards, which are voluntary, focus on four areas: effective sustainability planning, maximizing socio-economic benefits for the local community, enhancing cultural heritage and reducing negative impacts to the environment.
>> Tuesday, July 14, 2009
From a post by Rocio on Bill-in-Tulsa' bulletin board:
Los Tigres de Quintana Roo, now No. 2 in their division in Mexican League Baseball/Liga Mexicana de Béisbol(a AAA league team) has the following 3 series to play in Cancun. Games will be played at Estadio "Beto Avila", a 2 block walk from Walmart/Sam's and a 3 block walk from Costco/Mega(has just reopened).
Cancun Vs Tabasco Friday 10, Saturday 11 y Sunday 12
Cancun Vs Yucatán Tuesday 14, Wednesday 15 y Thursday 16
Cancun Vs Minatitlán Friday 24, Saturday 25 y Sunday 26
Tuesday to Friday Games start at 8:00 PM, Saturday Games start at 7:00 PM, and Sunday games start at 6:00 PM.
Division plays off will start on the 1st August, cities to be announced.
More information can be found at:
Tigres de Quintana Roo: http://www.tigresqr.com/2009
or Liga Mexicana de Béisbol: http://liga.mexicana.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=l125
>> Monday, July 13, 2009
From a news release on e-releases:
ST. LOUIS, July 13, 2009 — What would you do if one day you received something in the mail that would forever change the course of your life? “The Cocom Codex” (published by iUniverse) by Nelson Reed details the adventures of one such archeologist as he and a cast of others in Yucatan struggle to claim a valuable and rare Maya document as their own.
Out of the blue, Stuart Walker opens his mail to find a photo and letter from a childhood friend, inviting him to bid on the Cocom Codex. Though Stuart’s tenure as a professor at Washington University is a bit shaky, in part because of his drinking problem, he drops everything and leaves for Yucatan immediately, hoping the document will revive his once promising career. Also vying for the prized artifact are Catherine Pilkington, a fellow archeology professor who believes her mediocre career has been curtailed by the old-boy network, and Peter Van Raemdonck, an unscrupulous dealer who specializes in pre-Colombian Mexican art.
As all three characters arrive in the city in Merida, two things become immediately obvious: The document is authentic, and there are many who will stop at nothing to get it. Reeds’ characters are fascinating and unerringly authentic. Along the way, we meet a museum director who wants to steal the Codex, a revolutionary who wants to use it to buy guns, the document’s Maya owner and a detective who wants to arrest them all. Alliances are made and broken in violent, often fatal, struggles. In the end almost everyone gets his or her part of the prize, or else what they thoroughly deserve.
>> Friday, July 10, 2009
From an article by Karen Hursh Graber on MexConnect:
When we first came to Mexico many years ago, a trip to the market was cause for both excitement and apprehension for my then ten-year-old younger daughter. There were beautiful things, like fragrant flowers and bundles of bright green herbs, as well as "yucky" things, like the heads of freshly slaughtered pigs. But one thing that would always motivate her to come and help carry bags was the promise of a piece of honeycomb from the honey vendor. Dripping with its sweet golden syrup, the honeycomb was savored until its waxy symmetry had been reduced to something resembling a wad of Chiclets.
Honey has always been a nearly universally treasured food, visually appealing, delicious to taste, and nutritionally valuable. A fluid produced by bees and derived from the nectar of flowers, it has been used to describe everything from sweetness to sensuality, and even as a metaphor for goodness. The Book of Proverbs tells us that "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones," and "the land of milk and honey" described a place of rest and plenty that awaited the desert wanderers.
It was also mentioned in sacred texts of India and Egypt, and in Sumerian and Babylonian cuniform writings dating as far back as 2100 BC. It has been widely used, at various times and in diverse places, as currency, tribute and offering. It was used in Europe in food, fermented beverages, furniture polish, varnish, and for medicinal purposes.
Here in Mexico, the Maya people of the Yucatan have practiced beekeeping for thousands of years. The ancient Maya considered the stingless melliponine bee (Apidae melliponinae), native to the tropical forests of the Yucatan peninsula, to be a link to the spirit world, given to them by the bee god, Ah Muzen Cab.
>> Thursday, July 9, 2009
From an announcement on RivieraMayaVacations.com:
Minnesota Zoo is working with Just Imagine Vacations, Inc to do a week-long Sea Turtle Camp in Akumal. The camp is for students in Grades 10 - 12.
The students will work nights with the Centro Ecologico Akumal's Turtle Protection Program's staff and volunteers. They will go out on watches and look for nesting mothers as well as nests that will be hatching.
In addition, they will be taking two small side trips to a Spider Monkey Preserve and to Xcaret to tour their Sea Turtle Hospital and enjoy the day at the park.
The camp will also include snorkeling in Akumal's wonderful bays. Please contact us if you would like more information on this trip.
More information: Julie Ketterling, Minnesota Zoo Naturalist, at 952.431.9227.
>> Wednesday, July 8, 2009
From a post on roundmyworld.com:
As the largest protected area in the Mayan Riviera and esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sian Ka’an has been the region’s premier nature and outdoor recreation destination since it opened 20 years ago. With nearly one-third of Mexico’s Caribbean coast dominated by the park, there is also no shortage of nature to explore. Located just south of Cancun near the ancient city of Tulum, Sian Ka’an offers some of the best daytrip opportunities for tourists staying in Cancun.
As the park’s name is taken from a Mayan phrase meaning “where the sky is born,” it is no surprise that Sian Ka’an is also home to numerous historical sites. Human remains and artifacts found within the largely unexcavated Mayan sites in Sian Ka’an have been traced back over 2,300 years. In addition to the 23 distinctive archeological sites in the park, it is believed that the northern section of Sian Ka’an contains a once-vibrant Mayan trade route. When you visit the park, you will be able to see ancient Mayan temples resting undisturbed amongst the beauty of the natural environment. In fact, several tour operators visit these sites as part of active kayaking and hiking tours, allowing visitors to experience the best of both worlds.
Despite such fascinating history, the true value of Sian Ka’an rests in the fact that the park is one of the most biologically diverse preserves on earth. In fact, within the boundaries of the park, researchers have found 103 unique mammal species and 336 different species of birds. Unlike anywhere else in the world, Sian Ka’an allows visitors to experience several types of natural habitats in a single day. While touring the park, these are just a few of the unique natural habitats that tourists can explore . . .
>> Tuesday, July 7, 2009
From an article by Dan Vergano in USA Today:
CARA BLANCA, Belize — Machete chops echo and leaves rustle underfoot when the vines clear, revealing cobalt-blue water in a cliff-sided pool.
Hidden beneath the dry-season forest, these waters, the blue cenotes (cen-NO-tays) of Cara Blanca, represent a mystery for scholars, one left by the ancient Maya. What lies within these sacred wells?
"Cenotes were portals to the underworld, Xibalba, for the Maya," says archaeologist Lisa Lucero of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on a tour of the pools in May. "Offerings, artifacts — they would have left something there for the gods. We would expect to find something."
But the gods of Xibalba (shee-BALL-buh) won't yield their offerings so easily.
The secrets of the ancient Maya, whose Central American population centers were mysteriously abandoned more than a millennium ago, have long intrigued scientists. Why did such a complex culture disappear?
>> Monday, July 6, 2009
Not exactly ecotourism news, but definitely cultural news from an article on Earth Times:
Mexico City - Mexican President Felipe Calderon was dealt a massive blow in midterm legislative elections, which are widely considered to be a major test for the 2012 presidential poll. The Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) wrested control of the lower house of the Mexican Congress from Calderon's National Action Party (PAN), according to preliminary results.
Many had little hope in the PRI after it lost power in 2000, after 71 years. But on Monday, the daily El Universal proclaimed on its front page: "The PRI returns."
Conservative Calderon, in power since 2006 after defeating the centre-left Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador by just 0.58 percentage points, cannot stand for re-election himself. But Sunday's result confirmed that he will have trouble pushing through his favoured measures in the second half of his mandate.
>> Friday, July 3, 2009
From a news release issued by Cevichetours:
ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO -- 06/29/09 -- Immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of Isla Mujeres, Mexico at the Second Annual Whale Shark Festival, as Ceviche Tours and the Department of Tourism of Isla Mujeres today announced the official Schedule of Events for this five-day celebration to be held July 15-19, 2009.
Sponsored by several environmental leaders, the Whale Shark Festival will showcase the achievements, traditions and environmental splendor of Isla Mujeres while championing the need to preserve a fragile marine ecosystem. Whale shark tours, swimming with whale sharks and other ecotourism adventures are some of the activities guests can enjoy.
>> Thursday, July 2, 2009
From a post on Cheap Vacation Deals:
Chances are, your little ones won't appreciate the Toltec influence on the Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza, nor will they delight in the architectural beauty of Merida's colonial buildings - but that doesn't mean the city has nothing to offer them.
First of all, though they might complain about the heat and their lack of interest in a pile of rocks, don't miss the chance to watch their faces light up when they see the Castillo at Chichen Itza in real life. Climbing the main attraction, checking out a real Mayan hut, and seeing the cenote where human sacrifices may have been made once are sure to interest most children. Some kids may find the huge machine on display by the bathrooms interesting when they lea it was used to dredge the cenote and take out the treasures found at the bottom.
And while the majority of kids may not appreciate the excellent museum and the peaceful ruins as much as you will, most kids cannot resist the cenote at Dzabilchaltun. Bring some snorkel gear and let them see the little freshwater fish that live there. But please watch them and don't take children who can't swim. The cenote is shallow on one end, but very deep on the other. Be sure to bring your own towels, sunscreen and water to drink as well.
Part of the educational value of travel is being able to see how people live differently around the world. If you can, drive from Chichen Itza to Merida on the "free" or "libre" road, you'll have a chance to drive through and stop in some small Mayan towns or pueblitos (pweh-BLEE-toes). Children will learn a lot from seeing how children their own age live and play in the Yucatan. Stop in one of the towns for an ice cream or helado (ay-LA-doh) and take that chance to interact with the local people at the store. You'll all learn something!
>> Wednesday, July 1, 2009
A description of Genesis Retreat posted on Eco Tropical Restors:
Genesis Eco-Oasis was built with nature and animal lovers in mind. Its lush gardens include fish-stocked ponds, waterfalls and a cenote-fed swimming pool. Indigenous and hybrid plants and flowers attract an array of birds and butterflies and provide a haven for a number of rescued birds including a toucan, and two species of Amazon parrots. Our Mayan neighbours will teach you to make fresh corn tortillas from scratch, or to weave hammocks. Take our cenote safari or visit local villages on our mountain bikes. We promote low-impact tourism, educational programs and small community development projects and sponsor spay and neuter clinics for dogs, free English classes and community volunteer work projects.