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3 Key tips to enjoy the beach this summer
Summer holidays are just around the corner. During the summer months nights are longer, drinks are colder, hair gets lighter and our skin gets a beautiful glow that reveals our most natural inner beauty. Many of us choose sunny locations to enjoy the little pleasures of summer, we travel with our family and friends to enjoy the serenity and calm that transmits the sea and its salty breeze.
However, traveling during these busy weeks of the year also brings diverse pressures in the destinations that we like to visit so much. Due to globalization and the tourist massification of some specific places, the negative impacts of tourism go beyond the environmental, translating as well into social and economic pressures.
What can you do? Let us show you 3 simple actions
1. Protect from the sun using biodegradable sunscreen. This will prevent the chemical residues that make up the sun cream dissolve in the sea, contaminating the water and therefore, the posidonia and other communities of algae and corals. These types of creams are best for your skin as they are free from permanent oils and chemicals, while ensuring a full sun protection.
Where to buy? Try out at pharmacies, herbal shops or just order online.
2. Choose local accommodation providers and restaurants. It'll be much better if you also make sure they use local products for their dishes, since you will be contributing to the local economy while enjoying the real gastronomy of the area, supporting local producers and reducing the ecological footprint of the produce you eat.
3. Be polite a show respect to the people who work to make your vacation a time to remember. From the receptionist to the waiter or the chambermaid, they are all people who live at that destination all year round, have a family and a decent life. If you do not speak their language, a simple smile helps to open hearts and show that mutual respect between people.
Discover our experiences of sun, sea and Mayan culture in this link.
A story of love and clay at Doña Carmen's workshop
It was a huge clay jaguar with an inquisitive look that made us stop at Doña Carmen's shop and not at another one. After a little chit-chat with Doña Carmen, she asked us `do you want to see my workshop?´Of course! We replied, that was just what we were waiting for!
Few moments later we were right in front of Doña Carmen, her daughter, her mum and her niece, all dressed up with the vibrant traditional local dress. She started to make the base of a huge clay pot, with nothing more than her hands, some clay and a little bit of water.
I couldn't stoped myself of asking thousands of questions, how long have you been doing this? What do men do whilst you handle the clay? Don't your wrists hurt in the evening?... The four women were laughing, replying to my questions, telling me stories of their youth, of their clients, of their life.
"I was taught how to handle the clay at the age of 5" Carmen's mum, also called Carmen tells me, "I am now 75 and I can't do it anymore, but until now there has not been a single day where I didn't do this. I loved it and sometimes I hated it at the same time, but now when I can't do it anymore I really miss it and I feel terrible because there were times when I trully hated it. I guess this is like love, sometimes you feel like you hate the person you love but when time goes by and that person is not with you, then, you really miss him."
We left Doña Carmen´s workshop with a pair of small clay jaguars and feeling very happy to have shared so much in such a short time. As we went down the street, there were two words echoing in my mind: love and clay. Doña Carmen was right, love is like clay, you have to create it out of nothing, model it and paint it with different colors and shapes. Sometimes it can be complicated, sometimes it can be exhausting but in order to keep the passion for it, you must always treat it with creativity, with respect and with affection.
Yay! We are a Rainforest Alliance Certified ™ Tour Operator!
At Totonal Viajes we are on cloud nine since we have officially received the Rainforest Alliance™ certificate for sustainable tourism tour operators. We have gone through very exhausting months where we have strengthened both our internal sustainability strategy and our providers' policies. In this entry, we are going to explain what this certification means for us but most importantly, what it means for you, our fellow traveler and reader.
What is Rainforest Alliance?
Perhaps you have already seen the frog of the Rainforest Alliance logo in some products like certified tea and coffee packs. But what this has to do with tourism?
Rainforest admits that: "Travel shows us new ways of life, memorable landscapes and new experiences. But tourism - a vital source of income for many developing countries - can also cause pollution, deforestation, inefficient use of energy and cultural exploitation." This explains why is so important to manage tourism efficiently and sustainably at the destination level. For Totonal, this has been a certainty since our very first beginning.
Our mission is to encourage the development of rural communities through the design, operation and sale of responsible tourism experiences. We do this through trips that integrate rural cooperatives and cultural enterprises with the objective of offering trips that respond to the demand of travelers interested in living authentic experiences in México. Our vision is to be the leading company of responsible tourism in México, while creating bridges of prosperity for rural communities
Why do we need a certification on sustainable tourism?
The Rainforest Alliance certification for tourism providers is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and is based on a specific framework divided into three essential categories: business level, socio-cultural and environmental . The company has to compile with a set of indicators on each of these categories with the aim to improve its internal operations. For example, it is required to create and implement different manuals and management plans that show the sustainability credentials of the company’s providers, active participation in events, talks and workshops on sustainable development and responsible tourism… After completion of the indicators, an external auditor comes to asses the company and will later submit a report to be accepted by the Rainforest Alliance board.
In other words, having a Rainforest Alliance certification guarantees quality and shows strong and effective commitment to Sustainable Development. Perhaps you have heard of the concept called "green-washing"? It appears when a company declares itself "green" but it really is not, emitting false claims about its sustainability credentials to attract customers who have a sustainable attitude. Therefore, a certification like Rainforest Alliance allows to discard any suspicion of green-washing and officially validates the company’s sustainable management
To find out more about how our sustainable tourism policy is put into place, we invite you to check our "sustainability" section in our website. Please feel free to drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments.
This post has been written by our fellow Isabelle Rohan.
The plastic tsunami: discovering the shocking state of our seas
A friend of mine recently travelled to the island of Bali, Indonesia, with the plan of photographing manta rays. Tourism brochures had promised that Indonesia’s pristine coastal waters were ideal for this type of activity. My friend got his wish and came back with some great photos – but what he wasn’t planning for was the photographs to also document the immense pollution of Indonesia’s seas.
My friend’s experience perhaps isn’t so shocking when one starts looking into the facts and figures. Research suggests that Indonesia is the second largest producer of plastic marine waste in the world. The capital of the archipelago alone, Jakarta, is home to 13.2 million people and generates over 35,000 m³ of rubbish every day, of which nearly 8% is plastic based. Much of this waste never makes it to landfill, ending up instead in rivers and flowing out to sea.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identifies several causes behind this global environmental catastrophe. These include underdeveloped and insufficient in-land infrastructure to cope with the vast amount waste produced daily, littering practices in the shipping sector and a general lack of awareness amongst all stakeholders.
Marine litter is without a doubt one of the biggest environmental issues of the 21st century, and it is an issue that is getting worse. A recent survey in the UK shows that marine debris on UK shores has increased by 34% between 2014 and 2015. Considering that the UK has a developed waste management infrastructure and that recycling is relatively widespread, this statistic is alarming to say the least.
Indeed, the type of litter found on our shores speaks for itself. The two main sources of marine debris found last year on the UK shores were: microplastics (44.7%) and single use plastics (31.7%), including plastic bags, food containers and bottles. The UNEP is right to highlight a lack of awareness amongst stakeholders, as many of us remain blissfully unaware of the extent of the impact our lifestyle and consumption patterns are having on the state of our seas.
Thankfully, there are at least a few organisations that are highlighting this global issue and taking action. For example Surfers Against Sewage, created in Cornwall, UK, in the 1990’s, has achieved impressive improvements to water quality in the UK. More recently, they developed a clear strategy on to reduce marine debris by 50% by 2020 on UK shores. In the USA, 5Gyres is taking the lead in plastic pollution activism, creating education campaigns to empower people worldwide to take action on this issue. And in Australia, the organisation Take 3 is running a simple beach clean campaign that encourages everyone to take 3 pieces of litter with them when they leave the beach.
Due to the extent and scale of the problem we, as responsible tourism advocates, may feel powerless to stop this tsunami of plastic threating our ecosystems and livelihoods . However, in
reality the nature and causes of the issue suggest that there is a clear route to improvement. Because of the intrinsic link between tourism and the marine environment, the tourism industry should lead the change needed to tackle the issue by firstly, working closer with organisations that strive to raise public awareness of the impacts of marine debris. And secondly, engage with local communities to help solve the constraints they face to minimize the amount of waste going onto the sea. If we can achieve enough coverage of this global problem through actors of the tourism industry, we might even draw the attention of the big guys to include beach cleans in their CSR strategy and provide further opportunities for the organisations already making an impact.
With special thanks to Nick Pumphrey, ambassador of take 3, for providing these photos. To see more of his great work visit his website.
Are you looking for travel inspiration? Let us introduce you to Pueblos Mancomunados
A wish for travelers is to live the experience of discovering intimate corners of our Mexico just like any other Mexican would do. Pueblos Mancomunados offer a great combination of natural beauty to enjoy and live the charm of the highlands of Oaxaca. The slow pace daily activities will make you feel like there is no place on Earth like this one.
A group of 8 communities working as a real network in the “Sierra Norte” of Oaxaca, offer travelers from all over the world a new way of discovering the true essence of this place by different routes and tracing paths that connect each of the villages showing their particular purity, natural resources and local particularities whilst revealing a great sense of exclusivity and unmatched tranquility.
The idea behind Pueblos Mancomunados is to manage their tourism resources in a sustainable way working together in an environmentally way treating wastewater, recycling waste and capturing rain water to name but a few innovative techniques in the area. Each village has its own facilities such as restaurant and accommodation cabins made out of local materials featuring the communities own character.
If you are into hiking, the best time to visit would be between the last weeks of June and the first weeks of July since the area has all the splendor of spring. Locals tell us that during this months the land around the Pueblos wakes up and turns green and lush. The flowers start to bloom and small buds of thousands of plants burst out of the ground showing a rainbow of vibrant colors that will be the perfect composition for your photographs.
Cuajimoloyas, Llano Grande, Benito Juárez, Latuvi, The Nevería, Amatlán, Yavesí and Lachatao will continue amazing you with its warmth and grandeur. Wait no longer and book your stay with Pueblos Mancomunados today!
Keep reading about the different tours we offer in the highlands of Oaxaca visiting this link.
" ...perhaps most interesting about this place is that people function as a unit. "
Responsible Tourism Guide. Sustainable Traveler.
" ...over 400 years living as a single man and looking after their welfare."
Veracruz, a vibrant and historic Mexican destination
The beautiful state of Veracruz has an unmatchable historical value for being the land where the first municipality in México was settled. Here is located the most important port in the Mexican territory, and this is Puerto de Veracruz.
This Estate is formed by 26 municipalities, among which some of the most outstanding ones by their location in the Mexican Gulf coast are Alto Lucero, Actopan, the 4 times heroic Puerto de Veracruz, the modern Boca del Río, the pleasant Alvarado, La Antigua, and Úrsulo Galván, were you will find the beaches of Chachalacas and Zempoala archaeological vestiges, conforming an extremely multifaceted area with interesting features for every traveller.
In this part of the region the weather is generally warm and rainy during some times of the year which allows the jungle vegetation to thrive, being and important spot for different species of flora and fauna.
Visiting this central zone in the state of Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave gives you the opportunity to visit its beautiful beaches and nearby archaeological sites like Zempoala and Quiahuiztlán, as well as the first church founded in América and Cortés house. Stroll by the streets of this vibrant city, shop at the modern malls, live the superb nightlife, delight with local gastronomy at its eateries or attend to some of the joyful festivities, like the famous Carnaval that is one of the best in Mexico.
We invite you to discover responsible tourism, a unique way of travelling for people who want to live new experiences. Ecotourism, cultural tourism or community tourism are some of the forms that responsible tourism can take, and they are characterized for suggesting principles of sustainability and, therefore, having the generation of profits fot the local societies and ecosystems as a their main goal. Totonal puts them at your disposal, and it is also at your service in case you need advice or to hire a responsible trip or tour anywhere in México. At Totonal, we want you to have a real trip, full of unique experiences.