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Jonas StenstromMexico's world of treasures is truely an untapped resource!

by Hazen Audel

Hazen AudelMexico, I have decided, through my recent odessy, is an amazing country. I am never one to under-estimate any place awaiting discovery, but Mexico surpassed any extreme expectations. I was amazed! Mexico is a naturalist's playground and an adventurer's delight. This great and severely underlooked country has extreme latitudinal differentiation, an abundance of mountain ranges and radical elevation differences and the forces of two great oceans on either side to create a country with endless landscapes literally around every bend of the road and every newly tread path. What fascinated me, and honestly overwhelmed me, was the realization that every one of these landscapes was home to its own custom "glistening fishtank" full of unique geology, exquisite birds, mammals, bizarre insects, fascinating reptiles and amphibians, incredible plants and the list just goes on. These diverse landscapes all had their own populations and combinations of flora and fauna but as well their own unexplainable presence and spirits.

Of course, the many people of Mexico that we had met along the way complemented perfectly the diversity of the land. Often they added to the beauty of all the places we were fortunate to experience. Mexico still remains a sanctuary to many traditional cultures. Myself, along with the rest of the crew had a significant eye opening and heart felt, personal growth experiences by being able to make strong relationships with the many local people along the way. Our crew came into Mexico knowing that we have a lot to learn from the people and cultures of Mexico and with an openness of not always viewing our familiar western traditions as the right and or only way. With these attitudes of openness and respect we all gained life enriching experiences. We all hope that all American travelers gain the same from their future Mexican travels.

hazen mangroveI had been to Mexico three other times prior to this trip. After this Biodiversity of Mexico trip 2003 I can adamantly say that I had not experienced the real Mexico before. The other three times, I had flown in and was restricted to the areas around the airports and the highly influenced and westernized resort areas. Our Mexico biodiversity trip guided with our poop- yellow 1976 Chevy van with racing stripes enabled us to see so much of what
Mexico really is. Our van pulled over and broke down on all the sides of the roads that captivated us, was home to our libraries of nature, language, and travel books. It carried our camera equipment and our deodorant. And was our fort for the crew to all spend the time necessary together to tell the many stories of our lives and share our stories in the making. It was our fort in which life long friends were made. Our van that
we originally bought for $150 was and is priceless.

Even though we explored through the myriad of deserts, rainforests, pine and oak forests, savannahs, cloud ecosystems, mangroves, ocean shores, and mountain tops we only saw a small and almost insignificant glimpse of what Mexico has to be discovered. It is unfortunate that the country of Mexico is feeling the pressures of an ever increasing human population and feeling the effects of western pressures. Much of Mexico's wild lands and traditional cultures are being destroyed and along with this the true treasures of Mexico will soon be only stories of the past. The world's attentions need to be brought to the needs of Mexico. This Mexico biodiversity project 2003 will hopefully be a small but significant way to show the world of Mexico's state and conditions.

I am unable to just sum up our adventure and the Mexico biodiversity project. But I will say that every day while I was in Mexico I was battling huge personal conflicts every time I took step in the many wild areas along the road and far from the road. My conflicts were that with every step I was being amazed, fascinated and frustrated. I was frustrated because I needed to know more and more about what I was being amazed and fascinated with. No one could ever know enough about the incredible biology and cultures of Mexico. The amazement, the fascination and frustration are perfect ingredients to inspiration.

In life's discovery,

Hazen Audel

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