Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ecotourism Essay Draft...

Here's a rough draft of an essay I 'm writing for my English class:

Ecotourism: Echoes of Past Mistakes
Travel and vacationing are how many people from the developed, First World cope with the daily grind. Working in a concrete, urban environment is highly stressful and understandably causes the need to “get away from it all”. Many advertisements urge, “Indulge yourself!” and consumers often do as they are told. Developing, Third World nations are desirable vacation destinations because hard-earned, First World money goes farther there. The political and social realities of these countries are barely considered by travelers, just as long as their own personal safety is ensured. Vacationers seek to be pampered and served; after all, they deserve it.

Travelers want to enjoy beautiful resorts with sparkling pools, sumptuous spreads of delicious fruit and food, and expect friendly service-personnel in crisp uniforms. For pennies on the dollar, vacationers often haggle to buy souvenirs made by the hands of local people, of rare and precious resources from the local environment. These artifacts are later hung it in a home or office and referred to as artwork when the traveler brags about their vacation stories. Little thought is given to the daily living conditions of the people of the developing countries where these travels take place. Nearly no thought is given to the amount of water and electricity used, or garbage and pollution that was caused by the extravagancies of First World vacationers.

 People from rich, powerful countries have long taken liberties with lesser, vulnerable nations in the world community. Where did this greedy and entitled mindset come from? Technological advantages held by sixteenth-century European powers opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of feeling entitled to appropriate the precious resources of others who cannot defend themselves. When a powerful country exerts political control over another for its own benefit, it is called Imperialism. When a selfish country sends its own people to another for the purpose of resource extraction for its own benefit, it is called Colonialism (Stanford). The social, economic and ecological destruction caused by these practices, both past and present, are outside of the scope of this modest paper. It must be mentioned that it is an unfortunate reality that many First World consumers currently enjoying the numerous benefits of these practices are largely ignorant of how their comparatively extravagant cultures came to be. To what extent, then, can the average First World consumer realistically be expected to consider the consequences of the luxuries they enjoy and resources they so mindlessly consume while in a vacationing mindset?

If the ways the people of the First World treat their own countries is any indicator of their intentions towards those they visit while on holiday, the outlook is bleak. Natural resources including water, forests, minerals and animals have been depleted to shocking levels in the United States (Withgott, Brennan). Pollution and greenhouse gas emission standards in our country are being undermined for political gain (Withgott, Brennan 292). Depleted resources are what historically drove the countries of Imperial Europe to seek colonial acquisitions in the first place, and while some developed countries in Europe and Asia have taken measures to curb their consumption of resources and pollution output (Withgott, Brennan) complications caused by the current global economic crisis threatens to take priority over protecting the environment.

  Immediate gratification often takes precedence over more difficult, abstract concepts like frugality, stewardship or conserving the ecology, whether it be one’s own country or a far-off land only visited for brief pleasure. When roughly a third to a quarter of American households have less than $500 in the bank (Weston) there are many who still vacation, even though they cannot truly afford such an indulgence. These individuals often use credit to pay for their vacations; they borrow resources from an unknown future. Those who can still find it financially responsible to afford international vacations in real-time, amidst these bleak economic conditions, are likely to seek the best experience they can get, for as little of their First World money as possible. The travel and vacation industries follow suit; after all, they have a business to run. Meanwhile, 10% of greenhouse gases are caused by air travel (International Ecotourism Society). By many accounts, First World inhabitants are not managing their own resources well.

The textbook being used by Ohlone College for this semester’s Biology 108 class, Essential Environment: the Science Behind the Stories, argues that an emerging industry known as “Ecotourism” can be a solution to global environmental degradation. Cultivating an environmentally-friendly hospitality industry is described as an alternate choice for developing countries, rather than to industrialize, as has the First World. Authors Withgott and Brennan present that global and ecological awareness is on the rise and some consumers are becoming more mindful about their patterns of resource use. These well-meaning individuals consider the impact they make on the environment, including when they plan for a trip. The United Nations called 2002 “The Year of Ecotourism” (Vanderheiden and Sisson 1) and urged travelers to make environmentally considerate choices when planning their vacation accommodations. Though the First World has squandered its own resources and much of the Third World’s as well, it now asks the remaining, yet-developed countries to conserve for the sake of the planet and nice vacations? This is far easier said than done, and the group that must cooperate is also making the request. Vanderheiden and Sisson write:

Ecotourism must not be reduced to a kind of product to be passively consumed, but must be viewed as a way of experiencing people and places through travel combined with an ongoing concern for them—as an activity rather than a commodity. Only then might ecotourism deliver on the laudable goals that it promises. (13) 

Unless unprecedented change occurs in the behaviors and attitudes of First World travelers, Ecotourism holds the potential to become yet another incarnation of imperialism or colonialism.

             The British website ResponsibleTravel features a list of common “myths” about Ecotourism and addresses the fears travelers may experience when considering this new type of entertainment. Such concerns as “It's all hard work, you can’t do any fun activities” and “It’s expensive” echo the thoughts of many faced with something as daunting as a change in their self-indulgent behaviors. The website for The International Ecotourism Society assures that “anyone can be a responsible traveler! You can get back to nature, or bathe in luxury”. While both sources attempt to give reassuring exceptions to these trivial concerns, academic research is to the contrary. In the Journal of Sustainable Development, Xilian Wang writes, “…ecotourism has certain educational connotation” (1) and asserts that unless consumers are well-instructed about the ramifications of tourism and the reasons for preserving the environment of their vacation destination, Ecotourism is for naught. This is a drastic change from our imperial past and current selfish consumer-culture. Are enough First World inhabitants capable of putting their egos aside, sacrificing their pocketbooks and learning a new definition of vacation, so this can really work?

Perhaps it is too precarious to rely on individuals to make this type of sacrifice. Wang further writes that, “The government should speed up establishing and releasing a relatively complete ecotourism act and details about its implementation” (3) which may be possible in the country that paper was published, but lesser so in a country where the phrase “it takes an act of Congress” means the same as “nearly impossible”.


Still, Ecotourism does have its fan base. In Ocean and Coastal Management, Carlos Libosada addresses the sentiments of the local people of Ecotourism destinations and writes:

Often regarded as an economic justification for resource conservation, ecotourism is providing a concept that is easily understood and appreciated by local communities and stakeholders. However, ecotourism is still a business methodology that can be subjected to misunderstanding, abuse and misrepresentation which could also lead to negative environmental and sociocultural impacts. 

This leads to the question, “Who is the boss of these Ecotourism businesses?” Unless local communities are in decision-making positions of power, this is still a manifestation of imperialism. Unless the economic benefits of Ecotourism are made available to the local communities that provide hospitality services, and they are in-turn able to come visit First World countries during their own vacations, Ecotourism is still colonialism in disguise. The conclusion to Eugene Ezebilo’s contribution to the Journal of Sustainable Development entitled “Economic Value of Ecotourism to Local Communities in the Nigerian Rainforest Zone” states:

Local communities often support projects which they believe will contribute to their livelihood. If they do not expect to derive benefit from a project they may not cooperate with the managers of the project. 

Why aren’t the local communities the managers? This brings to mind stories of Canadian vacationers in Cuba, who enjoy all offered to them by the beautiful vacation resort where they’re staying, but dare not venture outside the tall surrounding walls, which are watched by armed guards (Interview).

After the 2004 tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, it was reported that tourists still arrived to flooded vacation resorts, demanding the services they had paid for weeks in advance (Interview). Will the developed world ever “get it”? While the queens and kings of the imperial world may be gone, their socially irresponsible and selfish attitudes remain. Ecotourism holds the potential to be quite beneficial, but people must redefine fundamental behaviors and assumptions about many things, including the word “vacation” and all it implies.  

Works Cited

Withgott, Jay, and Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: the Science Behind the Stories. Third ed. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings, 2009. Print.

"10 Myths about Responsible Travelling." Responsible Travel. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

Libosada, Carlos M. "Business Or Leisure? Economic Development And Resource Protection Protection—Concepts And Practices In Sustainable Ecotourism." Ocean & Coastal Management 52.7 (2009): 390-394. Environment Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

Xilian, Wang. "Critical Aspects Of Sustainable Development In Tourism: Advanced Ecotourism Education." Journal Of Sustainable Development 3.2 (2010): 261-263. Environment Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

Ezebilo, Eugene E., Leif Mattsson, and Carolyn A. Afolami. "Economic Value Of Ecotourism To Local Communities In The Nigerian Rainforest Zone." Journal Of Sustainable Development 3.1 (2010): 51-60. Environment Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

Vanderheiden, Steve, and Melanie W. Sisson. "Ethically Responsible Leisure? Promoting Social And Environmental Justice Through Ecotourism." Environmental Philosophy 7.2 (2010): 33-47. Environment Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

"Colonialism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

Weston, Liz P. "Why You Need $500 in the Bank." Bundle. 8 Jan. 2010. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

            "Your Travel Choice Makes A Difference." The International Ecotourism Society. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.
"Canadian Relatives Visiting Cuba and Other Traveling Anecdotes." Personal interview. 16 Nov. 2011.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Chinese Astrology...

I've been a student of Asian Lunar astrology, usually called Chinese astrology, since I was a teenager. Chinese astrology is a far older system than the commonly-known Greek horoscope that has the signs Aries, Virgo, Leo, etc. I've also found Lunar astrology to be "more accurate" than the Greek system, which recently had to add a new sign and change the periods of the original signs to accommodate planetary shifting. Which star constellation the sun happened to be passing through in the exact timezone where you were born is such a sketchy way to determine something as important as your sign! Lunar astrology is based on 12-year cycles that go by far more reliable monthly moons ;P

You're most compatible with people that are either older or younger than you by multiples of four years.

Hey, we all have our irrational beliefs, mine just happen to follow an ancient system. I am a Year of the Horse. I'm actually the poster-girl for Year of the Horse.


Compatibility Of Horse With Dog

You are a rare uncommon combination, for you have many things in common. You have less load of ironing out the differences because they are very few. Humor is part of the nature of you both and that makes your relationship lively.

Bite you, Doggie!

The Horse has the strength and the Dog has the wit and both of you are aware of the strong points of each other. Dog is not interested in unnecessary gossip, you concentrate on your job and nothing else. Horse is basically a wanderer but the charisma and the level of integrity of the dog, keeps you tied to the Dog.

My nose is coldie!

You are industrious and have aptitude for hard work that carry your projects to the point of success. The interests of the Horse are varied and your general knowledge is vast and astounding. Dog is fascinated by your level of intelligence and capacity for hard work, when the occasion demands.

Hard work, like kicking some Doggie-tail into shape! ;P

You have a perfect and amazing love life. That does not mean that you are free from conflicts in this area. Your conflicts are of the intellectual level, and when you are able to solve them by proper application, you feel satisfied and elevated. Many times you behave as if it is your first date! Horse likes constant appreciation of the Dog. The dog is able to tie down the unsteady horse.

Mmm I love furry ears.

The happy go lucky Horse fails at times, to understand the varying moods of the Dog and why the Dog goes into the groove and takes time to return to the original jovial disposition! Your physical connection is strong and that makes your relationship more interesting! To tame the mercurial Horse is not an ordinary achievement. That the Dog does it to perfection, is no ordinary bonus for the Dog!

Matching outfts! So cute!

You share a dynamic work-place in business. Integrity and hard work are the two cornerstones for success in any business venture. Both of you have these qualities. Both of you love to travel and take risks in business. You are fully committed to what you do.

Love you, Doggie-boy!

Since, your basics about the business are good, it sets the momentum of growth in profits. The normally unpredictable Horse also gets immersed in business related activities and works with the single pointed devotion being inspired by the absolute commitment of the Dog.

As per the Chinese Astrology, your compatibility ratio is 90%. Good going. You have the intrinsic worth to achieve the remainder of 10% and make it 100% success!

Dogs and Horses: best together when on wheels.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Time Travel...

Scents and tastes easily activate old memories.

When I was a young whippersnapper, there was a store called Thrifty's and it sold many things but most importantly, it sold award-winning icecream.

This icecream was so cheap that even my broke-ass family could afford it! ;D We could even get a double scoop, most of the time! The scoops were slightly odd because they were squre like this:

Then an evil shoe company named Payless bought them all. Then another evil company called Rite Aid bought all the Thrify/Payless stores.

Lucky for us all, most of the current Rite Aids that were former Thrifty's still sell icecream.

If I eat icecream after 8 pm I have very strange dreams. I did just that, last night. In a line full of people buying booze, there I was with my icecream cartons. Not just one but TWO, mind you. It was a hard, lonely weekend. Never eat icecream alone at home, kids. And definitely don't eat it late at night or you'll turn into a Gremlin, like me.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

San Jose Berryessa Flea Market...

So much more fun than writing an essay, even though today was easily the coldie-est day of the year. I was like, "Brr!" the whole time, motherfuckers!

From Wikipedia-

The San Jose Flea Market, located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, was founded by George Bumb Sr. in March 1960. His idea to open a flea market sparked while working in the solid waste and landfill business. He witnessed an abundance of treasures thrown away every day and realized he could make a profit from these discarded items. After visiting swap meets in Los Angeles and Paris’ Thieves Market for inspiration, George Bumb Sr. established the San Jose Flea Market on 1590 Berryessa Road in San Jose, California.

He bought 120 acres (0.49 km2) of an old meat-processing plant and remodeled it to create a market with an initial 20 vendors and only 100 customers per day. Now, the San Jose Flea Market is the largest open-air market in the U.S. and has become a California landmark with over four million visitors each year.


Mr. Bumb was way ahead of the whole ecology movement. The novel "Kite Runner" even mentions this place! But far as I'm concerned, The Berryessa Flea market is about as close to visiting Mexico as I'll probably ever get! I really do hate to pack for a trip! >_<;

I always wonder what happened to the Aztec queen in these kinds of pictures, because she's always swooning or dead, or something. I heard that J-Lo used to make her second husband carry her around. Never did hear anything like that about Marc Anthony, or El Piqueno. I wonder who will be the next ex-Mr. Lopez? You go, Jenny From the Block!

The area known as "Produce Row" was quiet today.

Roasted nuts taste a million times better than salty ones, but this doesn't mean you should keep your laptop on your actual lap, guys!

I got some less-than-perfect looking apples, oranges and bananas. We'll see how long they keep. The price was certainly right!

I saw a dude preparing cactus leaves(?) with a potato peeler! Didn't taste any of this, but maybe next time I'll be brave.

I love the mysterious spice stalls.

One pineapple juice and one mango cup, please! Remember kids: the darker the mango, the sweeter the flesh!

Food is good but you all know by now that I really love stuff.

I found unsatisfying Adidas items. I was hoping to find some bootleg pendants and underwear, but the Adidas La Migra must have already swept this Flea Market because I only saw two fake Adidas jackets in the whole place! Everything else had only two stripes.

Mexican wrestling and soccer gear are sort of like my version of what French Maid and Naughty Nurse outfits are, for most guys.

The masks that come with a cape are for little kids. Little girl wrestler = luchadorita?

One of my parents' friends was a Mexican-American cowboy and he always had the best boots. He wore the really pointy kind and they were always burnt cherry colored.

None of the candy dealers recognize me anymore (I lost hella weight three years ago) but at one time I was one of their most prized customers. Ah the "Rebelde Years".

Pinatas make me very happy, though I didn't grow up having them. I was 29 when I first had a pinata at my birthday. That Bob Esponja in the back looks scary and hungry.

Wow! I saw two places with munecas de trapos (rag dolls) today! I never used to see these, before. On the wall you can see Mexico's version of "Hello Kitty": a cute, crayon drawing version of the Virgin Mary. This motif started showing up in the mid '00s on jewelry, stickers and clothes.

I've been known to wear a folklorico dress, in my day. What's not to love? Bright colors, big poufy skirt and lace. Yep, sounds like Holly Heaven.

I saw more Day of the Dead stuff today than I've seen in the past six years! What's a gringa to do?!

Right corner of display case: !offrenda piquena! I think those are fruit loops.

Oh my God I am going to make some of these as soon as I'm done with school! !R.I.P. borrachitos!

It was such a cold day that my thoughts turned to blankets.

It's not my fault that I found someone with really big sarapes for a good price! This is only the second one of these I have! I already have a yellow one. Amarillo by morning...

But there was another blanket I've been looking for and today I brought it home.

That's right, bitches. Seriously, the guy at the Korean Mink Blanket stand I bought this at told me they found Tupac down in Mexico. He said the guy had all the same tattoos. I'm gonna have to Google that one!

I was hauling around my own bodyweight in fruit and blankets by the time 5 o'clock rolled around. It was getting dark and even colder, but you just can't leave the Berryessa Flea market without getting a warm "!Churro, churro, churro!". They set up stands near the exits and that's what the vendors call out to you. Most amazing churro you've ever had, I guarantee ;D


Monday, November 14, 2011

Time Travelling...

Travelling back to Easter of 2010 here:

I made something like 30 or 40 of these that Easter. Why do I do this to myself?

I am a slave to my art.

I think I'll make this style next ;P

!Huevos de Dia de Los Muertos!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

For a Decent Donut, You Have to Go to the Bad Part of Town...

Have you noticed that you just can't get a good donut in the nice part of town? I don't like donuts from the grocery store, either! You gotta go to the bad part of town for a decent donut.

Oh, and I should mention that Psycho Donuts is technically a boutique donut establishment and doesn't count as a regular donut shop!

I found myself in the bad part of town, tonight, and so I got myself a donut. My favorite is white cake with white frosting and chopped peanuts. Once I had a really bad fever and started hallucinating. I controlled my mind by focusing on this type of donut, I'm not kidding.
The Yum Yum Donuts chain is somehow affiliated with Winchell's, according to the shirts that the Yum Yum Donuts employees wear, anyhow.

At the location I visited tonight, they had a great donut selection, but I got just the one "blanco con cacahuates" or "white with peanuts". Yes, I actually ordered it in Spanish.

This location is great because it used to be a Winchell's. I remember coming to this shop with my family when I was probably like 4 years old. There was this one time we went fishing with my uncle up in Santa Cruz early, early in the morning and we stopped and got donuts here.

The light fixtures in this Winchells turned Yum Yum are special. The picture below doesn't do them justice.

They remind me of a really big Lego block. Then I remembered that I've seen this same light fixture, in a movie, of someone getting donuts in a bad part of town!

Good ole Boogie Nights shows up in my blog for a second time. Check out the light fixture in the upper left corner! Take the money, Buck!

Bad part of town or no, donuts are great!