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Issue Focus on Ecotourism, Voluntourism, Responsible Travel and Slow Food
On the face of things, most businesses in the travel industry now display some sort of environmental concern. Most tour operators profess their environmentalism, implicitly and explicitly, by offering tours or adventure activities in natural areas such as nature reserves and national parks—especially in developing countries—on the basis that tourism would provide an incentive for locals to make money from protecting landscapes, as opposed to destructive activities such as logging, fish farming, poaching or mining. Many resorts on the other hand are all falling over themselves to prove their green credentials; they devise ways to minimize waste and electricity, and many upscale resorts now levy a dollar or two for every guest's night stay and donate it for environmental programs. I research these efforts all the time as a travel writer specializing in outdoor travel to natural areas... Read more
Responsible Travel in Action
Helping to Preserve Endangered Species and Ecosystems by Volker Poelzl
Wildlife Preservation
Traveling responsibly encompasses many different aspects. It involves respect for local cultures and customs, minimizing our impact on local ecosystems, and helping to preserve endangered ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest. During my extensive travels, I have confronted one issue that affects almost every country and every ecosystem on our planet: no matter what continent you visit or where you chose to travel, there are dozens of plant and animal species threatened by extinction.

Today we are confronted with a mass extinction of species that is unprecedented in the recent history of our planet... Read More

Hacienda in Ecuador
Ecuador is beginning to attract more tourists to regions besides the Amazon, Quito (capital city), and the Galapagos Islands. Travelers are discovering the Andes highlands, Avenue of Volcanoes, coastal areas, and southern Ecuador. Many travelers enjoy authentic experiences staying in historic haciendas and hotels with organic foods, cultural inclusion, sustainable ecotourism, volunteer possibilities, and adventures... Read More
Guatemala
Guatemala is among Central America's most popular travel destinations. About a million tourists flock to the small country each year to visit Mayan ruins, colonial towns, and of course the colorful Mayan markets, which are among the highlights of any visit to Guatemala. Although many visitors admire and purchase Mayan handicrafts and textiles, listen to marimba bands, and photograph colorful market scenes, very few travelers venture a step further to actually visit Mayan villages and learn about the culture and way of life of the Mayan people... Read More
Monks in Lhasa
Settling back into "normal life" is always difficult after a long trip, so upon returning from a lengthy stint in Asia I decided a rummage through the random knick knacks collected en route might diffuse post-travel blues. A variety of emotions ensued-joy at the sight of cheesy snaps, mild embarrassment at the clothes which looked so good in India, and bewilderment as to why I had kept bus tickets in a language so foreign it could not even be deciphered where the journeys had begun or ended. But it was not until I opened long unseen thank you cards from recent English students that I felt truly moved.... Read More
Kenya
Deep in Kenya's Rift Valley Province, situated on the edge of the bustling markets and thriving tourist economy of the capitol city of Nakuru, lies an impoverished and largely forgotten community. Barut does not register on most maps, has very little infrastructure, limited drinking water, and a high unemployment rate. Its 45,000 people primarily live in mud-houses thatched with grass with no electricity, and use firewood on a hearth to cook small rations of food. Yet, it is here that a wonderful story of hope and perseverance is unfolding... Read More
WWOOFing
...Our flirtation with the idea [to experience rural life in Europe] started when we stumbled on the website for WWOOF or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, the organization that matches volunteers with organic farms around the world. We quickly scanned the front page. A few hours of work each day in exchange for food and lodging? Learn about organic farming and sustainable agriculture while conserving our travel budget? That seemed perfect.... Read More
Wild Camping Abroad
...As a general guideline, be discreet, practice low-impact camping techniques and avoid putting your tent anywhere you see the land is fenced off, marked with "no trespassing" signs or being used for farming. As long as you choose a hidden spot, with no obvious signs of ownership, and respect the land you are on by not starting fires and carrying out all your litter, it is very unlikely you will be bothered... Read More
Eating in Grenoble, France
Although many French people have become influenced by the global trend towards mass-production and live off of frozen and canned edibles during the week, that does not mean that they have buried their culinary roots in the soil for good. Neon-lit hypermarkets and multi-level parking garages have cropped up across the French countryside. Not all meals linger over two or three hours. But the French do still truly appreciate a carefully prepared meal made from fresh ingredients. The idea of terroir—locally produced ingredients or products—has become popular again, as much with older generations who only ate simple cuisine du terroir in their youth as with the young adults, seeking an alternative to open-heat-serve cooking... Read more
Slow Food in Emiglia-Romagna
Sitting on the balcony of my little Bologna apartment and looking across to a sunny green courtyard while swirling and sipping a glass of velvety Pinot Noir from the Alto-Adige, I cannot help but think fondly of my dear friends Nadia and Paolo, Bolognese born and bred, who gave me this wine as a gift. I met Nadia at the gym. When she learned I that was an American university student on an exchange, she suggested giving her private ESL lessons twice a week. She and her husband Paolo travel outside of Italy often and English comes in handy. Our lessons, long informal conversations that include as much Italian as they do English, often turn to food, and so our friendship began... Read More 
In Ko Libong I saw more crabs in one morning than I had seen in the previous thirty years. The crabs were like an infestation, emerging from the dark and dense mangrove forest we could see to our landward. And on the mudflats of Ko Look Mai, where we were traipsing, the crabs merged into waves—in their flight, as we approached, they looked like the ripple of the breeze on the surface of the sea. The seashells were also out in force, and they covered the muddy ground, exposed in low tide, so thickly that it was impossible to avoid stepping on them. What a feast for the birds: the high-pitched trills of hundreds of plovers filled the crisp sunny morning... Read More
Textile Stories from Laos by Victor Paul Borg
The Lao traditionally did not orate or write the stories of their history and culture, they wove it. Strand by strand, Lao stories are woven in the intricate dense patterns and motifs of textiles. Yet the story-depictions - religious, mythical, legendary, and even stories about personal aspirations and histories - are so elaborately fantastic, and the motifs so esoteric, that in many cases only the weaver can accurately interpret the story... Read More
Endpage
Puerto Vallarta: The Other Side
by Veronica Hackethal
Puerto Vallarta
...Everyday Mexico, with its beauty and contradictions, nips at the edges of Puerto Vallarta, and it is hard to ignore. That night in the Centro, I wandered narrow cobble-stoned streets and found remnants of the sleepy fishing village Puerto Vallarta once was. This place felt unexpectedly complicated, and I wanted to know more... Read More 
Macaw
Travelers are often lured to foreign destinations by exquisite wildlife shots such as stampeding elephants or pouncing lions. As beautiful as these photographs are, they are also quite intimidating for amateur photographers. But I have found that with decent photo equipment, a little bit of practice, patience, and luck, amateurs can also take great pictures of wildlife and animals during their travels... Read More
Defining Ecotourism and Responsible Travel
Responsible Travel and Latin American Columnist Ron Mader
Ron Mader of Planeta.com
2008 was the 25th anniversary of ecotourism, a word first coined by Mexican architect Hector Ceballos-Lascurain in July 1983. A quarter century later and ecotourism is being developed in practically every country around the world, albeit at different levels and with varying degrees of success. One of the chief obstacles is that ecotourism is simply not defined or interpreted the same way. What Europeans call "a walk in the country" is interpreted as "ecotourism" in Latin America. Far too often the terms used to define tourism are blunt instruments which undermine diversity. Ron Mader shows how travelers can distinguish style and substance and find the trip that creates a mutually beneficial experience for you and the people and places you visit... Read More
Learning to Love Voluntourists
Senior Travel Columnist Alison Gardner
Alison Gardner
I confess to having rather a soft spot for the word voluntourism because I appear to have been the first journalist to coin the word in print. I did this in a feature article I wrote the 1990s on the subject of volunteer vacationing suitable for older travelers, citing some of the earliest players in the fledgling field. These included Earthwatch, Habitat for Humanity, and Global Citizens Network—all of which remain steadfast short-term voluntourism models to this day. With an explosion of client interest in recent years and many new variations coming on the market, let us reflect on this worthy marriage of volunteer service and vacation travel... Read More
One Island's Sprint Toward Energy Independence
Resourceful Travel Columnist Tim Leffel
Tim Leffel
I step on the gas pedal and whip through the streets of Reykjavik, in a rental car that makes me feel far less guilty than usual. This one is a hydrogen-powered Toyota Prius hybrid. I can't help but think this seems perfectly natural. The car is quiet and nothing comes out of the tailpipe, but it drives just like a regular little car. Later I visit a filling station. There are gas pumps, a methane "biogas" pump for the city's garbage trucks, and a hydrogen pump for cars like these... Read More
Art That Makes a Difference: Women Helping Women in Mexico
Local Encounters Columnist Michele Peterson
Michele Peterson
In Sayulita, Mexico, a Pacific beach community best known for its full moon parties and surfing, former anthropologist turned jewelry designer Susana Valadez is busy raising funds for indigenous Huichol women through her non-profit project, The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts. For travelers interested in high fashion jewelry and community development, the project site (in Huejuquilla el Alto, Jalisco) and Galeria Tanana (in Sayulita an hour north of Puerto Vallarta) offer excellent opportunities to assist in empowering local indigenous women... Read More
Eight Ways to Become Part of a Community Within Two Weeks
Professional Hobo Columnist Nora Dunn
Nora Dunn
When you are living somewhere for the short to medium term (be it as a volunteer, wwoofer, or gap year traveler), it can be difficult and onerous to integrate into the local community. Either the locals are not interested in folks who are for all intents and purposes "passing through," or you cannot be bothered with the effort of making friends and becoming an integral part of a society you will eventually be leaving. Either way, you are cheating yourself of one of the prime (and most rewarding) reasons for long-term travel: to learn what makes a culture tick and get a finger on the pulse of that society's undercurrent... Read More
Slow Food in France on a Budget
Budget Travel in Europe Columnist Kelby Carr
Kelby Carr
The Slow Food movement, while invented in Italy, is ideally suited to France. Any conscientious foodie with a love for traditional cuisine can find bliss there. Not any foodie can indulge in an authentic food experience properly while on a budget, however. But that does not mean that it is as challenging as it sounds. Some of the precepts of the Slow Food movement fit perfectly into a budget approach to eating while in France, such as buying local food and going closer to the food source in rural, agricultural areas... Read More
Ask the Expert Q&A
Taking Your Hobbies and Interests Overseas
by Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl
Volker Poelzl
I recently received an email from a reader asking me if I thought it was possible for her to continue as an amateur viola player after moving to Argentina for retirement. She brought up a very important point that is easily overlooked when considering a move to another country: how can expatriates continue to pursue their hobbies and interests after moving overseas? Read More
Book Review
Ecotourism and Sustainable Development
Ecotourism and Sustainable Development by Martha Honey

This second updated edition of "Ecotourism and Sustainable Development" provides a lot of critical insight and information for anyone interested in ecotourism and issues related to sustainable development and environmental protection. This is not a guide to ecotourism outfitters or eco-lodges, but a critical analysis and comprehensive overview of the ecotourism industry, its promises and challenges since its rise in the early 1980s. ... Read more

Movie Review
Two Days in Paris

Two Days in Paris by Julie Delpy (2007)

Another “An American in Paris” movie, albeit an unconventional one. Instead of telling a love story before the backdrop of the great city of Paris, Julie Delpy’s first feature film as a director takes on the complex issue of an intercultural relationship in the throes of culture shock. After spending two weeks in Italy, photographer Marion (Julie Delpy) and her boyfriend Jack (Adam Goldberg), an interior designer, decide to stay with Marion’s French parents in Paris for two days before returning to the U.S. What enfolds is a witty and funny depiction of cultural differences and relationship issues that arise on every imaginable occasion during the couple’s brief visit to Paris... Read more

Music Review
Concha Buika
Niña de Fuego by Concha Buika

Much of the world music that received attention from the media and from music awards this past year is not rooted in one musical tradition, but is the result of a fusion of several musical styles spanning across the globe. This new trend in world music often results in a strange hodgepodge of styles and rhythms, but it also leads to successful blends of music from different parts of the globe. During recent research of new world music, I came across such a successful fusion of styles. It is the album "Niña de Fuego" by Afro-Spanish singer Concha Buika... Read more

What's New at TransitionsAbroad.com
TAzine Editorial
We are proud to launch TAzine as a monthly Webzine which continues the 31-year tradition started by Transitions Abroad magazine. TAzine features many of the same columnists who wrote for the magazine, a growing group of new columnists, while featuring many freelance writers who wish to share their experiences and expertise within the context of our pioneering coverage of work, study, travel, and living abroad.

Founded in 1977 by Dr. Clayton Allen Hubbs, Transitions Abroad magazine was the only print publication dedicated to work, study, living, volunteering, and immersion travel abroad. Its purpose—in print and now as a Webzine—is the dissemination of practical information leading to a greater understanding of other cultures through direct participation in the daily life of the host community.

Send in your submissions for the webzine to webeditorial@transitionsabroad.com on the subjects of travel, work, study, internships, teaching, volunteering, living abroad, and much more in accordance with our detailed writers' guidelines!

Current Issue and Focus
Ecotourism and Responsible Travel
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Off-Season and Budget Travel
December TAzine Issue
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