About the Trip

Project Initiative

This project is being conducted with several goals in mind. First and foremost, as scientists we have this goal to 'save the world'. Its a goal most of us have probably had since we were in elementary school and decided to love the natural world. As we got older we decided that saving the world was harder than any of us ever expected. What we've all come to realize is that you can, however, do small things, that make the world a better place. In order to save the remaining biodiversity, we want to let people know its there. If they know its there, they may be more willing to try and save it. The more that know, the more people that may have the passion to want to do something, to protect the habitats.

The Wild Classroom Crew

The second goal is to produce a documentary to show people that Mexico is safe to travel in. While many people may actually go to Mexico, they often don't leave the touristy towns of Cancun, Mazatlan, Acapulco, etc. There is much more to offer, though. We want to show the diverse ecosystems, but also where they are and how easy it might be to explore them.

Finally, the trip is planned to give us the opportunity to get some really great shots of plants and animals in Mexico. You can't have a great natural history film without the wildlife photography. This way we can get those shots.
It was and is a group effort and when finished will be well worth it. Each corporation that helps sponsor the trip will get a lot out of the little bit of funding that is necessary for our production. Its a project that, with some support, we hope can reach a large amount of people.

The Film's Theme

This film is a mix between a traditional natural history film and science adventure. Basically, the film documents the adventure of 5 young explorers through 4 major areas of Mexico - the rainforests of Veracruz, the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of California and Pacific Ocean, the deserts of Sonora and Baja, and a difficult ascent up Pico de Orizaba (18,700 ft)

Amphibians

The 5 explorers are composed of experts in different areas of science. Each of the 5 experts tells their story of Mexico as we go through the 4 main regions. This may be through the eyes of the herpetologist (reptiles), the marine biologist, evolutionist, conservationist or botanist, and mountaineer. Each story emphasizes the unique biodiversity that underlies that particular field of study in Mexico.

While the movie presents an image of Mexico as an untouched adventure, waiting to be explored and its plants, animals and landscapes just waiting to be discovered, the underling goal of the project is to show that Mexico has great potential as an ecotourism destination.

Hazen AudelI feel that many people have the misconception that Mexico (outside of the tourist spots of Cancun, Veracruz, Acapulco .. etc), is an unsafe area to travel and has little to offer. This is not the case, however. The many diverse ecosystems of Mexico lay outside the tourist hotspots, many in small remote areas. If tourism is going to play a part in the economy of these areas, thus giving the locals incentives to keep the land pristine, people must first of all, know where these places are. That's the first step in conservation, and thats what we can do.

All destinations that we travel to are outlined on an animated map throughout the film. They will also all be placed in this website for others pleasure. 

Why Mexico?

Mexico is a biodiversity hotspot! It ranks 5th in the world as far as countries with the most species. It ranks first in the total number of reptiles, cacti, and pines. Its home to more than 1,000 bird species, 640 reptiles, 450 mammals, 330 amphibians and more insects than you could probably ever count.

videoThis biodiversity stems from its location between North and South America. It was only recently that these two continents came into contact with each other. Before that the two land masses had millions of years to evolve entirely different creatures. Now that the two areas are merged animals are traveling between the two. Yet, because many are restricted to tropical locations, their migration ends in Mexico, thus, adding to the number of species present.

Mexico is our closest neighbor to the south. This biodiversity can be easily witnessed. However, this scenario has a few problems. According to INEGI Mexico has a deforestation rate of 1.2 million acres per year, one of worst in the world! Plus, of the INEGI Environmental Review, Mexico has 242 species in danger of extinction, 435 considered threatened, 244 considered rare and 84 subject to special protection.

Because of this diversity and because of the threats, we have chosen Mexico to make our expedition; to document the diversity, to examine the potential for travel, and to show others that environmentally friendly exploration to these areas can not only be personally rewarding but a valuable way to help save the remaining ecosystems.

1976 Chevy Van 10


1976 Chevy VanWhen we think about the van that took us 7,000 miles from Texas to Veracruz, to Oaxaca, Baja, California and back again, we think of it with the best of memories. I can't help but wish I was back in that van, with no air conditioning, seats not bolted to the ground, and no insulation (making it really loud) - just driving down the road, free and without a care in the world. All we wanted to do was live Mexico. If the van had a problem we'd all get out and let a few fix the problem while the reset of us would be off filming whatever was on the side of the road. In a way, this vehicle guided us to some of the best filming locations. It would say, "how about a stop," and we'd stop. Then the land unveiled its unique flora and fauna to us. It was truely amazing.

All in all the van was a great van. I thank Chevy now for making such a dependable van, that even being more than 25 years old, (older than half the crew), we made it everywhere we wanted to go.

  • Miles - 7,000 miles
  • Changed tires - 5
  • Changed headlight - 1
  • Changed fuel filter - 1
  • Pulled over by police - 4
  • Pulled over by the Federale - 24
  • Hassled by police - 1
  • Max wait during an inspection - 1hr 30min. (we had a lot of stuff)
  • Speed bumps it endured - 2,000+
  • Max speed limit - 65 mph
  • Milage per gallon - 10
  • Overal price of gas for vehicle - most of our budget
  • Paint job - baby poop brown with adult poop racing stripes.
  • Dependability - Ranked against new car (3/10) - against another 70's car (10/10)
  • Mexican blend-in-ability (couldn't be better)
  • Handling during blown tires (A+)
  • Comfort level when sleeping on the roof (A+ as long as you don't roll off!)

 

 

 
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