Good news! Google has dropped the price of their Nik Collection, a suite of seven desktop Photoshop & Lightroom photo editing plug-ins aimed at advanced photographers, from $149 to free. These are the same photo plugins we have been using for years which at one time cost as much as $499.95. The Nik Collection includes seven plug-ins, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Viveza, Analog Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, and Dfine. Enjoy taking your post processing of images to a whole other level. You can download the the Nik collection here.
All Eyes On Panama
We just returned from an amazing influencer conference in Panama City, Panama. Blogger Influencer Week Panama LATAM® (BIWEEK) is planned to be an annual conference in Panama which will bring together bloggers and influencers from around the globe. At this inaugural conference the hashtags cover several blogging genres, #travel, #fashion, #foodie, #extreme, #lifestyle and #innovation. The over-arching theme of BI WEEK was to discuss, inspire and explore new market trends such as how to develop creative content for enthusiastic bloggers in attendance. It matters little what your blogging interests, or specialty, may be as there was truly something for everyone at this conference. In fact, there were so many talented presenters it is impossible to see or experience them all. This world-class event also promotes the viability of Panama as a worthy tourist destination, as the invited bloggers this year are all considered to be among the most influential and recognizable members of their field on both a national and international level.
Our Time At BI WEEK Feb 19 -27, 2016
The Nomadic Tribes (aka Jett & Kathryn Britnell) and were invited as travel writing representatives & guest speakers for Matador Network. Matador is the world’s largest independent travel publisher, with over 13 million unique monthly visitors. Since 2006, this online publication has redefined travel media by developing a global network of editors, writers, photographers, and filmmakers who’ve won numerous awards and pushed the traditional limits of travel storytelling. Jett & Kathryn re both Matador Ambassadors (http://matadornetwork.com/ambassadors/jett-kathryn-britnell), a vetted group of leading athletes, photojournalists, musicians, artists, and writers with a passion for storytelling, travel, and conservation.
At the Biomuseo Museum located on Panama City’s Amador Causeway, Jett, along with fellow travel photojournalists Blaze Nowara (www.blazenowara.com) and Michaela Trimble (www.michaelatrimble.com), gave a presentation about travel writing & photography to a roomful of Latin bloggers & travel enthusiasts. Prior to and after this midweek presentation we were transported on several exciting adventures which we will be writing about for both Matador Network, as well as, The Nomadic Tribes travel blog.
Panama Left A Lasting Impression
I must admit, I did not know what to truly expect from this southernmost country in Central America, let alone Central America’s fastest-growing city. Of course, anyone with a passing interest in world history knows about the famous man-made waterway that is the Panama Canal. This country had also been explored by both Christopher Columbus in 1502 and Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513. When I was in grade school I do recall reading about the audacious 1671 raid on the city of Panama, which at the time was one of the richest cities in the world, by a swashbuckling pirate named, Captain Henry Morgan, who captured, looted and burned the city to ashes. However, what loomed large in my memory was the U.S.-led invasion of Panama on December 20, 1989, when President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Just Cause to execute an arrest warrant against former CIA operative and head of Panama’s secret police, Panamanian dictator General Manuel Noriega on charges of drug trafficking. This was all I truly knew about Panama before I experienced the country first hand during Blogger Influencer Week Panama. Of course, shortly after I returned home to Vancouver, Panama was in the evening news over something about 11.5 million leaked documents that became widely known as The Panama Papers.
Would We Return?
Yes, in a heartbeat! Our experience during Blogger Influencer Week Panama 2016 certainly opened our eyes to the vast potential for tourism this vibrantly beautiful Latin American nation has to offer. There seemed to be so much going on there that we predict Panama is destined to become a darling destination for travellers the world over who are seeking a blend of culture and fun in the sun. Within an easy three-hour flight from the U.S.A mainland, Panama does indeed seem to have it all. Art, music, cuisine, history, tropical islands, jungles to explore and the Panamanians themselves who were predominantly young, welcoming and exceedingly optimistic about their nation’s figurative rebirth. Unfortunately, Kathryn was unable to attend Blogger Influencer Week Panama with me due to some prior commitments. All the more reason for making a return visit to this remarkable Central American country. We fell in love with this beautiful destination as well as the many Panamanian and Latin American people we during our stay.
Watch the LATAM® (BIWEEK) website for updates on Blogger Influencer Week Panama 2017. http://www.bloggerweekpanama.com
Jett served as principal underwater photographer on this Ocean Defender – Hawaii’s research expedition whose objective was to conduct research on the particular rhythms and patterns of whale songs in Tahiti’s southern population of Humpback Whales. Ocean Defender – Hawaii has been researching Humpback Whale song patterns in Hawaii to determine why whales sing and how our experience of human music can provide clues. The Tahiti Humpback Whale expeditions is an extension of the research being done in Hawaii to investigate where the two systems of sounds overlap, and where each is unique. Jett is scheduled to return to Tahiti again during whale season in September 2016 to continue this work.
In Tahiti, this research was conducted from aboard the modern Polynesian sailing canoe, Fa’faete. This vessel is 65 feet-long and was a part of a Polynesian fleet of canoes built to travel across the world spreading ocean awareness and conservation. Ocean Defender’s research team were the first non society members who were allowed to overnight on the canoe. While onboard, Jett worked side by side with Fa’faete’s crewmembers and learned how to steer the canoe in open seas using only celestial navigation as we searched for whales between the islands of Pa’paete, Mo’orea and Tetiaroa. During his week onboard, Jett became fully immersed in Tahitian culture and also visited archeological sites on Tetiaroa and also those found in Pa’paete’s Valley of Papenoo.
Mark your calendar because on May 28, 2016 TEDxStanleyPark 2016 makes its annual return to Vancouver. With 15 engaging and highly accomplished live speakers who are primed to inspire while sharing their innovative solutions and insightful vision towards solving several modern day societal problems and humanitarian challenges. TEDxStanleyPark’s r raison d’être is to provide a stage for these speakers who must present great, well-formed ideas in less than 18 minutes. The overarching theme of these talks is to try to make the world a better place by bringing people together, sharing ideas and fostering a fertile community for learning.
TEDxStanleyPark is a program which is run under the TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design) brand to bring a TED-like experience to as many people as possible. All TEDx events are named after locations, such as cities, neighbourhoods, streets etc, which is aimed at serving that named community. TEDxStanleyPark symbolizes the spirit of Stanley Park as a central meeting spot for Vancouver. Stanley Park was originally inhabited by First Nations before the British colonized these shores and turned the land into a 1,000-acre park. Village sites in Stanley Park were still in use by First Nations people in the 1880’s until surveyors and road builders demolished some of their homes (shockingly, while the inhabitants were still living in them) to make way for the present day Park Drive perimeter road.
TEDxStanleyPark is unlike any other educational event. Speaker topics are wide a far ranging and this year’s talks run the gamut on such topics as eradicating bedbugs, loneliness and technology addiction, health & happiness, sex therapy, slave labour and financial security just to name a few. The stated objective of TEDxStanleyPark 2016 is to have 15 genuine standing ovations from the 2,640 people in the audience and virtual applause from the event’s estimated 3,000 to 5,000 online guests. In the spirit of ideas worth sharing, attendees attending this event are encouraged to enrich their on-site experience by mixing and mingling with others. Ultimately, it comes down to what we do with the ideas shared on this day that unites the TEDx community.
Here is a link to the 2016 Speakers. Here
Date & Time: Saturday May 28 2016 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
TEDxStanleyPark 2016 has kindly extended a $20 ticket discount offer for our readers who are interested in attending this year’s conference. Get your ya ya’s here… ummm…tickets and enter the promo code “Kathryn” at checkout and voila, you’re good to go. We are stoked to be going to this year’s TEDxStanleyPark. See you there!
Scuba Diver Ocean Planet magazine recently published a selection of 122 inspiring underwater shooters from around the world. The picture of a Humpback whale from Tahiti is our image. While we are happy our work is being recognized, I’d be the first to say that there are many talented underwater photographers I know whose names are not on this list. After all, it’s a great big world and talent is never limited to a select few.
Danke Schön, Darling, Danke Schön, 6,000 Twitter Followers!
On behalf of The Nomadic Tribes we would just like to say Kathryn and I are thrilled to have surpassed this milestone and we hope we’ve passed the audition.
DESCEND INTO THE SOFT CORAL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
Paradise, Fiji style. Long hailed by scuba divers as being the “Soft Coral Capital of the World”, Fiji offers tantalizing diving opportunities that will mesmerize even the most jaded dive traveler. Straddling the International Date Line, Fiji is comprised of roughly 300 islands and atolls sprinkled across 200,000 square miles of the South Pacific Ocean. Fiji’s rainbow reefs are renowned for their wonderfully pristine flowery soft corals, large branching fan corals, schooling pelagics, dazzling tropical fish, towering coral bommies, barrier reefs, precipitous drop-offs and offshore pinnacles. A vast number of these incredibly exotic reefs still remain largely unexplored. When compared to other exotic dive destinations, another of Fiji’s great virtues is that it only takes 12 hours to get there from North America’s West Coast.
Historians believe these verdant volcanic islands have been inhabited for more than 3,000 years. As recently as 100 years ago they were fearfully known as the “Cannibal Isles”. A grisly epithet that alludes to the ferocious Fijian warriors appetite for eating the brains of their captured enemies. But it was the famed “Mutiny on the Bounty” in 1789 that made this far off tropic isle widely known. When the HMS Bounty mutineers put Captain William Bligh and 19 men who were loyal to him in an overladen, 23-foot open longboat, with only enough rations to reach a nearby island. Instead, Bligh and his crew set sail and traveled across 3600 miles of largely uncharted ocean and reached Timor, a remarkable 47-day open boat journey that still ranks as one of the most courageous feats of seamanship in history.
Today, Fiji ranks as being one of the most welcoming and friendliest places on earth for scuba divers. With approximately 60 diving operators scattered throughout the island chain, it is remarkably easy to experience more than one resort or dive operator during a visit. Warm turquoise waters, fantastic visibility, rainbow gardens of soft corals teaming with kaleidoscopic arrays of multicolored reef ﬁsh, turtles, manta rays, sharks and other large pelagics combine to make this by any measure an undersea paradise.
FIJI”S NORTHERN REGION
Fiji’s archipelago is roughly divided into four dive regions. Geographically isolated from the mainland, Fiji’s Northern region is notable for its abundance of soft corals in the current-swept Somosomo Straits that lie between Vanua Levu and Taveuni. Vanua Levu has fewer soft corals but a stunning mix of pristine hard corals. Amid the rugged labyrinth of islands, straits and atolls in Fiji’s North are some of the nation’s top dive sites, all within the reach of several diving resorts and a few adventure diving liveaboards.
One famous dive site is situated near the secluded island of Namena. Named for the flurry of fish activity in the converging currents that takes place there, “Grand Central Station” is one place that seemingly has it all. Dramatic underwater scenery, brilliant soft corals, fiery red whip corals, feathery crinoids, a steep wall, countless reef tropicals, large pelagics, whitetip sharks, and if the Fijian gods are smiling one might even encounter a whale shark. Night diving here was no less spectacular. A giant green sea turtle literally bumped into me during my first nocturnal foray and tiny cowries, smaller than your baby fingernail, are sometimes seen on red soft coral branches.
FIJI”S WESTERN REGION
Sprinkled like jewels just offshore, the Mamanuca and Yasawa island chains make up Fiji’s Western region. Just a short ferry ride from Nadi, about a ten-minute drive from Fiji’s main International airport, the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands are dotted with swaying palm trees and inviting sugar white sandy beaches. The local waters here feature tranquil inner reefs that are ideally suited for novice divers and dive training whereas more experienced aquanauts can still satisfy their thirst for adventure exploring the nearby ocean passages and fringing barrier reefs.
FIJI”S CENTRAL REGION
Bordered by Fiji’s three largest islands, the Koro Sea together with Bligh Water are situated in the heart of Fiji and more or less divide the northern region from the south. This Central Region is frequented mainly by diving liveaboards owing to its large expanse. The seas here wash the reefs and walls with nutrient-rich currents that support the lush proliferation of vivid soft corals.
In the Koro Sea off Wakaya Island, we dived “Cathy’s Arch.” Here we descended into a large cave with a gaping window that opened out onto a steep wall. I came across a sleeping zebra shark on a ledge at 90 feet. I only had time to squeeze off one quick exposure before the shark lifted off the bottom and vanished over the drop-off. Wakaya Wall also offered up some manta rays, blue ribbon eels, black coral trees, dogtooth tuna and decorated gobies.
Bligh Water is the fabulous stretch of ocean that separates Fiji’s two main islands of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu. Named after the famous Captain Bligh, this narrow waterway marks the place where, after being set adrift by the crew of the Bounty, cannibals in war canoes chased Bligh and his crew away. One of Bligh Water’s premier dive sites is a huge seamount rising up from its approximate 3,000-foot ocean depths to come three feet of the surface. Known simply as E-6, this pinnacle provides a fertile substrate for a spectacular marine ecosystem.
Gorgonian coral fans, soft corals and sponges festoon the walls. Pelagic fish seem to be magnetically drawn to this seamount. It was here that I made eye-to-eye contact with a hammerhead shark. Large silvery clouds of jacks, snappers, schooling barracuda and eagle rays are plentiful. There is also a cavernous swim through here where sunlight filters down from above creating some visually striking wide-angle photo opportunities. On the seafloor, I found a geographic cone shell and foraging in the coral rubble.
FIJI”S SOUTHERN REGION
Fiji’s great southern region extends from mid-way along Viti Levu’s Coral Coast to the eastern extreme of the Fijian archipelago and all the southern islands. Beqa Lagoon is just a one hour-boat ride from Paciﬁc Harbour. An immensely popular diving area that alone is worthy of Fiji’s claim to fame as being the “Soft Coral Capital of the World,” Beqa’s legend has grown even more due to the expansion of a thrilling shark dive that features bull sharks and tiger sharks. Famed shark divers, Ron & Valerie Taylor have endorsed this shark encounter as being the “Worlds No.1 shark dive.” Lionfish and other exotic tropical fish were seen on just about every other coral head in Beqa. Clownfish with their requisite anemones were plentiful, as were the swirling clouds of orange and purple fairy basslets.
Above water, there is much to see and do in Fiji. If one happens to be staying near Pacific Harbour I would highly recommend visiting the Arts Village Center. Formerly known as the Pacific Harbour Cultural Centre, here one can step back in time for a few hours and observe how Ancient Fijians went about their traditional village lives. Entertainment includes a traditional canoe tour and daily performances by the legendary Beqa firewalkers, singing, lavish Fijian ‘meke’ (dancing), making fire and pottery making demonstrations, mock warrior battles, storytelling and legends. Local tour operators also feature a host of other tour packages such as windsurﬁng, parasailing, deep-sea fishing, sailing, trekking, horseback riding, golf, wildlife watching, jungle zip tours and river trips. Fiji’s capital, Suva, is a short car ride from Paciﬁc Harbour and offers a host of great shopping venues.
DRUMS OF THE ISLANDS
During our first visit to Fiji, Jett was invited after a fabulous day of diving to imbibe some Kava, an intoxicating social beverage and Fijian ritual drink, and strum a guitar with the Fijian dive guides who were relaxing and winding down after work. They began playing a song called, Bula Malaya. Although he could not decipher the lyrics they were singing, he instantly recognized the melody. “I knew the song as Drums of the Islands, a song that Elvis Presley had performed in his movie, Paradise, Hawaiian Style. As my fellow guitarists gave me the nod to sing the next chorus, I crooned the English version of the lyrics known to me… “If I should journey across the deep blue sea. I’ll never forget these coral shores. Drums of the islands, I hear you calling me. And I’ll return forever yours…”
FIJI DIVE OPERATOR LINKS
Memorable travel quotes are motivating, inspiring and strike a deep familiar chord within so many of us.
Silver-tongued words of wisdom which connect us all by melding into words our past trip experiences and future travel aspirations. From famous travellers to visionary authors, wise philosophers, Romantic poets and modern day songwriters, we have compiled 101 inspirational travel quotes for globetrotters that are sure to ignite one’s wanderlust. As the great American author and humorist, Mark Twain, so eloquently penned, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang
“Stuff your eyes with wonder,” he said, “live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled.” – Robert Frost
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy
“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” – Anatole France
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling
“When you travel, you’re never alone.” – Unknown
“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.” – Chuck Thompson
“I like animals. I like natural history. The travel bit is not the important bit. The travel bit is what you have to do in order to go and look at animals.” – David Attenborough
“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.” – Euripides
“Done laid around, done stayed around this old town too long. And it seems like I’ve got to travel on.” – Bob Dylan
“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” – John Hope Franklin
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac
“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” – Herman Melville
“Paris is always a good idea.” – Audrey Hepburn
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” – Oscar Wilde
“You and I have memories. Longer than the road that stretches out ahead.” – The Beatles
“May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view…where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you.” – Edward Abbey
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless.” – John Steinbeck
“Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.” – Dalai Lama
“Travel is like a giant blank canvas, and the painting on the canvas is only limited by one’s imagination.” – Ross Morley
“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there.” – Gandalf
“When you’re travelling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat
“There’s nothing American tourists like more than the things they can get at home.” – Stephen Colbert
“Adventure, yeah. I guess that’s what you call it when everybody comes back alive.” – Mercedes Lackey
“No one has ever described the place where I have just arrived: this is the emotion that makes me want to travel. It is one of the greatest reasons to go anywhere.” – Paul Theroux
“Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I’ve seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli
“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.” – Bill Bryson
“Culture shock is often felt sharply at the borders between countries, but sometimes it doesn’t hit fully until you’ve been in a place for a long time.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
“We do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” – John Steinbeck
“You have not lived until you have fled a city in a country where you do not speak the language in the middle of the night.” – Ken Poirot
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai
“We do not follow maps to buried treasure and X never, ever marks the spot.” – Indiana Jones
“The greatest justification for travel is not self-improvement but rather performing a vanishing act, disappearing without a trace.” – Paul Theroux
“Take me on a trip upon your magic swirling ship. My senses have been stripped. My hands can’t feel to grip. My toes too numb to step. Wait only for my boot heels to be wandering.” – Bob Dylan
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” – Shirley MacLaine
“Even from the simplest, the most realistic point of view, the countries which we long for occupy, at any given moment, a far larger place in our actual life than the country in which we happen to be.” – Marcel Proust
“Tourism is a mortal sin.” – Werner Herzog
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain
“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” – G.K. Chesterton
“I read; I travel; I become.” – Derek Walcott
“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” – Dagobert D. Runes
“To travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Andersen
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I was an adventurer, but she was not an adventuress. She was a ‘wanderess.’ Thus, she didn’t care about money, only experiences – whether they came from wealth or from poverty, it was all the same to her.” – Roman Payne
“Two great talkers will not travel far together.” – Spanish Proverb
“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” – Susan Heller
“Travel is only glamorous in retrospect.” – Paul Theroux
“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” – Truman Capote
“The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” – Russell Baker
“Do not insult the mother alligator until after you have crossed the river.” – Old Haitian Proverb
“Boy, those French. They have a different word for everything.” – Steve Martin
“I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.” – George Bernard Shaw
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” – Unknown
“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin
“There’s only four ways to get unraveled; One is to sleep and the other is travel.” – Jim Morrison
“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” – Alan Keightley
“Travel like Ghandi, with simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind.” – Rick Steves
“Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.” – Susan Sontag
“Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?” – Erma Bombeck
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot
“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou
“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands but a continent that joins to them.” – Francis Bacon
“I was not born for one corner. The whole world is my native land.” – Seneca
“Without adventure civilization is in full decay.” – Alfred North Whitehead
“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” – Amelia Earhart
“Travel teaches toleration.” – Benjamin Disraeli
“Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Seattle
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Paul Fadiman
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye
“Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.” – E. M. Forster
“One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.” – Edith Wharton
“Let us cherish the hope that the day is not far distant when we will be in the midst of this next adventure.” – Ernest Lawrence
“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” – Francis Bacon
“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.” – Steve McQueen
“Travel is very subjective. What one person loves, another loathes.” – Robin Leach
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni
“Ohhh I’m sleeping under strange, strange skies. Just another mad mad day on the road.” – Mick Jagger
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag
TORMENTOS IS A VERITABLE OCEAN GARDEN
“That was one of the best dives I’ve ever done!”, Kathryn proclaimed after surfacing at Cozumel’s Tormentos Reef. Comprised of coral pinnacles towering approximately 20 to 30 feet high and interspersed with wide, sandy areas. The colorful coral heads are adorned with purple and orange sponges, brain and whip corals. Tormentos is a veritable ocean garden where the reef’s maze of twisting tunnels, overhangs and barrel sponges provide shelter for marine life. Teeming with shoals of bream fish, French grunts and yellow snappers, we lost count on the number of blue tangs, pork fish, trigger fish, black durgon, file fish, big eyed jacks and parrot fish we saw. Lurking within the ledges, nooks and crannies were Caribbean king crabs, spiny lobster, giant hermit crabs, juvenile spotted drums, spotted moray eels and delicate-looking arrow crabs. Grey and French angelfish seemed unwary of the divers in their midst as were the barracuda seen hovering over the patch reef on the hunt for their next meal.
BENEATH THE JAGGED CORAL OVERHANG
Beneath a jagged coral overhang, we encountered a seven-foot nurse shark resting motionless on the sandy seafloor. After taking a few pictures, we left the shark behind only to come upon a green moray eel swimming out in the open that was clearly being escorted by an enormous black grouper. Normally a solitary fish, this grouper was clearly hunting with the eel. Marine biologists who have studied this remarkable behavior in other parts of the world estimate both fish were five times more successful at catching prey cooperatively than separately.
THE GIFTS WERE INDEED UNDER THE SEA
While our dive at Tormentos Reef was quite literally off the scale, we equally enjoyed our dives at other well known Cozumel dive sites. Interestingly, we seemed to be seeing more large animals on every dive than I could recall ever seeing here over two previous trips. Nurse sharks, sea turtles, Southern stingrays all seemed to be in greater abundance. Our decision to bring our family to Cozumel for Christmas and New Years felt entirely right. This year, the gifts were indeed under the sea.
COZUMEL IS MEXICO’S LARGEST ISLAND
Nestled just 12 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula’s coastline. Cozumel is Mexico’s largest island. Measuring roughly 28 miles long by 10 miles wide, it is a predominately jungle-covered, limestone and scrub plateau. It’s main waterfront town, San Miguel, was a sleepy little fishing community until 1961 when famed undersea explorer, Jacques Cousteau shot a television documentary here and proclaimed the islands fringing reefs to be one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas on the planet. Since that time, Cozumel has established an underwater marine park system to protect the delicate balance of its impressive long stretch of coral reefs & lavish assortment of tropical fish. The sea life is absolutely amazing and depending on the season, underwater visibility ranges between 100 to 200 feet. Modern day scuba divers still rate Cozumel’s mighty Palancar Reef system as being one of the top five diving destinations and tales of hidden undersea treasure from old Spanish galleons still arise during après dive discussions while downing a few cold cervezas.
SAN MIGUEL’S PLAZA DEL SOL
San Miguel’s quaint downtown zócalo (Plaza del Sol) extends for about eight blocks along the waterfront and for several blocks back from the water. The tiny municipality exudes a casual relaxed ambiance with excellent shopping, superb night life, an exceptional number of fine dining restaurants, more than 200 gift shops, souvenir stalls and jewelry outlets that sell everything from T-shirts to fine silver jewelry, pottery, wood carvings, leather goods and tourist kitsch. While prices tend to be fixed when cruise ships are in port, bartering is relished by shopkeepers on the side streets located as little as ½ block in from the water. In fact, the potential for striking a great bargain increases the further you stroll back from the waterfront.
ON CHRISTMAS EVE
On Christmas Eve our trip got off to a festive start with a delicious dinner at Pepe’s Grill, followed by bananas flambé for desert, which is simply to die for! After some shopping at some waterfront shops we attended Midnight Mass, which the Mexicans call “la Misa Del Gallo” or “the rooster’s mass,” at the beautiful Cathedral of Corpus Christi. One does not need to be religious to appreciate familiar Christmas carols or a church service performed entirely in Spanish. Curiously, we noticed several church patrons were carrying and hugging a baby Jesus doll. We soon learned the building of the “El Nacimiento” or “Nativity scene” is a seasonal tradition here. During the holiday season, most Mexican families construct a Nativity scene in their home. At midnight on Christmas Eve, a figure of baby Jesus is placed in the nacimientos to commemorate the Lord’s birth.
COZUMEL WAS HOME TO IXCHEL
According to Mayan legend, Cozumel was the home of Ixchel, Goddess of Fertility and wife of Itzamha, the supreme Lord and Sun God. At least once during their lifetime, Mayan woman were expected to make a 12-mile crossing between the Yucatan mainland and Cozumel in a dugout canoe in order to worship and pay tribute to Ixchel. It was believed that in return Ixchel would grant her loyal servants the promise of good marriages, healthy children and would send her favourite bird as a symbol of gratitude and good fortune. This explains why the ancient Mayans revered Cozumel as a sacred shrine and named this tiny island, “Ah-Cuzimil-Peten”, or “Island of the Swallows.” Today, at many scattered sites around the island archaeologists are still unearthing small dolls that were presented as a sacrifice during fertility rituals.
Palancar Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, is Cozumel’s claim to diving fame. Its reefs form part of the Belizean Barier Reef that extends southward from Isla Mujeres, a tiny Mexican island north of Cancun, to the Bay of Honduras in Belize. Palancar’s reef system is comprised of a three and a half mile long stretch of patch reefs, sand channels, impressive drop-offs and towering housed-sized coral buttresses, the peaks of which rise to within 60 to 100 feet of the surface. The walls of these monolithic edifices are honeycombed with tunnels, ballroom-sized caverns, passageways, and swim throughs. Peer over the edge of Palancar’s abyssal drop-off and you will be gazing at the Undersea Temple of the Mayan Gods, the 3,000-foot deep ocean trench that separates Cozumel from the Yucatan Peninsula.
ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR DRIFT DIVING
Another notable feature that sets Cozumel’s waters apart from other Caribbean dive destinations is the Yucatan current offers endless opportunities for drift diving. These continually flowing ocean currents are often less than half a knot and tend to flow in a south to north direction. Sometimes the current can be fairly strong, attaining velocities of two knots or more. Essentially, the dive plan for drift diving is simple. The dive tender drops you in the water and follows your bubble trail, standing by to pluck you from the water when you surface.
PALANCAR CORAL GARDENS
Shafts of sunlight shimmer through the openings in the cave ceilings and winding archways at Palancar Gardens Reef giving the interior a cathedral-like atmosphere. The picturesque Garden’s presents divers with a varied reef terrain of towering rock spires, cliffs and numerous swim-throughs that are decorated with orange elephant ear sponge, gorgonian corals and lots of the usual tropical fish. Sea turtles are pretty much a sure thing on every Palancar dive. It would seem the Mayan Goddess, Ixchel, also rewards divers who are willing to make a pilgrimage to her fabulous undersea temple.
YULETIDE TROPICAL ADVENTURE
While spending Christmas in the tropics may not be everyone’s cup of tea, our entire family thoroughly enjoyed our Yuletide tropical adventure. Perhaps the Goddess Ixchel weaved her magic in other ways during our stay as after attending Christmas Mass, both our Über cool teenage boys actually thanked us for taking them to Midnight Mass. That’s the wonderful thing about dive travel, it provides one with unique experiences you will never forget. As the Mexicans say on New Years Day, “Prospero Año y Felicidad.” A prosperous year and happiness!
Cozumel Quick Facts
Diving Season: Year round
Language: Spanish and certain Mayan dialects. English is spoken throughout tourist areas
Currency: Mexican peso with U.S. dollars and major credit cards accepted by most establishments.
Time Zone: Central Standard Time Zone
Estimated Population: 90,000
Water: Tap water in Mexico is generally not potable, and it is safest to drink purified bottled water. Even locals do not drink the tap water. Bottled water is widely available.
Climate: Subtropical, average temperature is about 80˚ F with the warmest weather in July and August. The coolest months are December and January where temperatures hover in the 70’s. Ocean temperatures average 80˚ F year-round, dropping one or two degrees in winter.
Time Zone: Central Time Zone. Cozumel does not observe daylight savings time.
Accommodations: Cozumel offers many choices for places to stay. All inclusive hotel packages are now popular and a fantastic option for families. Prices for hotels vary greatly so consult with a dive travel agent or surf the net to find something that suits your budget and satisfies your specific needs.
GRACIAS TRAVEL BLOGGER INTERVIEWS
T.N.T? Well, that’s short for The Nomadic Tribes. So happy to see our interview today posted at Travel Blogger Interviews (part of the Flights and Frustration network) website. You can check out our interview by following this link: Here
We are now just over 4 1/2 months with having The Nomadic Tribes up and running. Thus far it’s been an interesting ride and we are feeling over the moon with our growth to date. Our Twitter following is growing fast and the daily follows we are gaining are strong and fairly consistent number-wise. Over the coming months we will shift our focus towards developing our social following on Instagram and Pinterest. As well as, continue to add more content to our website.
GRATITUDE IN ALL THINGS
We also feel immense gratitude towards the other travel bloggers with whom we have engaged over the past several months. It is a great community where sharing and caring seems to actually means something. We are also starting to receive considerable interest from businesses who wish to work with us. On this, we are being very selective and truly are seeking an optimal fit for both our partners, as well as us. If it does not feel right to us, it is simply not worth it to us. It’s about demonstrating integrity in all things.
WE’RE ON A MISSION
Our primary goal remains. And that is to become social influencers that have built a strong online following so strong, it will rival top travel aggregating brands. We have learned so much more than we already knew over the past 4 months. We continue to be inspired by the work of others and are making a concerted effort to give back to others. Along the way, we expect to meet some great people and have fun while we’re doing all this. Truly, life is more about giving than receiving. Otherwise, what is it all for? One world. One Love. We are all connected.