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A cup of cocoa to save our Mother Earth Here's a good start-of-the-week comeback on the post weekend question, "What did you do this weekend?" "Oh, I participated in a sacred Mayan cocoa ceremony to restore balance in our Mother Earth."  A few months back I was drawn to a handsome, long-haired young man who stood out in a crowd of guides and outfitters at a gathering of adventure travel professionals. Aaron El Leon and his partner Milena Worsham operate Running Buffalo Journeys from their home base in Atitlan, Guatemala. We hit it off as new life-long friends and they offered to hold a sacred cacao ceremony for a small group. Just by virtue of the spiritual nature of Aaron and Milena, which is what drew me to them in the first place, I knew the ceremony was more than a get together to have a cup of warm cocoa.  Indeed, we are not talking about processed cocoa or even...

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Guiding is a Family Affair One of our senior guides in Costa Rica recently read my blog My Family Roots in Turkey and was moved to write me his personal sentiments about his own family and how he views Wildland travelers as his own extended family visiting him at home.  This is what makes Costa Rica guide, Leo Chaves, such a great Wildland guide. I like to say that being a good Wildland guide is really easy. Of course, it requires the requisite study of history, ecology, archaeology, or other areas of expertise, first-aid training, and leadership characteristics are also necessary. But the reason it should also be easy is because ultimately the most important attribute of a guide is to share your Self! And that's what I really appreciate about Leo's comments: "Family roots and history are so important.  Reading your words about your family brought back memories of many personal moments. My mother...

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Travel to Turkey or Morocco. Must I Choose? A prospective WIldland Adventures traveler brouight up an excellent question today as they are thinking about their travel plans this September: "How should we decide between traveling to Turkey or Morocco  because they have many similarities." With extensive Mediterranean coasts, September is one of the best months to travel in either country. However, the experiences vary when you compare traveling to Turkey, especially when comoparing ouir Turquoise Coast Odyssey in Turkey with either one of our Exotic Morocco or Morocco Adventure itineraries.  First, the cultures are quite different. I would characterize Turkey as more European, especially in the areas you would be traveling. Istanbul, and other cities in Turkey would be closer to south eastern European style with a Muslim flare from the grand mosques and other buildings dating back to an older age.  Istanbul is a very cosmopolitan, world-class city of great international importance in the region and the...

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On the way to Dharavi we drove through the red-light district where young girls and women work the sex trade. This gave us the opportunity to talk about the reality of prostitution in India, about sex trafficking children and women here from Nepal, Bangladesh and elsewhere. It's important that we as travelers raise awareness and support organizations working to break up human trafficking by providing support for children and women to find safe harbor, break the sexual exploitation cycle and find a better life. Jen and Heather, our Yoga instructors, with Twist Vinyasa Yoga Edmonds came to this part of Mumbai before our yoga group met up in Goa and brought toys for the children of working prostitute mothers. Wildland Adventures is a signator to the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct and supports ECPAT - the international campaign to end child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking of children for sexual...
There’s hyped up controversy about paying to go see poverty on a “slum tour” in India, but there shouldn’t be if you do it right and with the best of intentions.  In early February 2014 we went into the Dharavi slum on the edge of Mumbai with Reality Tours and Travel, a local walking tour company.  If you’re going to be a tourist of any sort, better to be a traveler interested in seeing the reality of the place and people, and to do it with everything open: mind, eyes, heart, and a willingness to share. Walking through Dharavi, I couldn’t help but think about what Gandhi pronounced: "Just because we may have a different lot in life, doesn’t change the fact that we are all, at our core, one and the same." What we learned first off is that a slum, by definition, isn’t poverty per se. In fact,...
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