The Daily Gusketeer

Baja Trek's daily blog.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Julio the Sewer Diver's Story

This story alternates between incredible and horrifying -- but either way you really have to read it... It's the story of one of only two sewer divers in Mexico City.

Check it out here!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gus Supports the Arts!

Today we'd like to draw your attention to some of our very own Gusketeers who have wowed us with their multiple artsy talents! Gus has been fortunate to host some incredible painters, knitters, jewelry and leather-workers, and musicians. We've loved getting to know these people on the bus, and we strongly suggest that you get to know them and their awesome art in the real world, too!

First up is our good friend Caroline Casey, who with her band of "Stringslingers", graces the Austin music scene.  She is a delightful person with a beautiful voice. And her music (honky tonk/classic country-style) is so fun! Listen for the Mexican influences on "Threshold of Heartache"... We love it! You can buy her record too.

Next up is our pal Anchi Howitz, who runs a thriving shoe-painting business, when she isn't busy managing a posh Los Angeles spa! Speaking from the perspective of a satisfied customer, I can say that her shoes are the best things ever to wear on your feet. She will make you a completely unique design based on whatever theme you choose, from dinosaurs to sea creatures! Check out her Etsy site to order a pair!  Also, she will be appearing alongside her fellow crafters and DIYers at this year's Renegade Craft Fair in Los Angeles, which runs July 24 & 25 at the LA State Historic Park. Don't miss her!

Our old Gusketeers Gwen and Eli are always up to new creative antics and are currently based up in Eugene, Oregon. The pair of them make beautiful things -- Gwen knits hats, bags, hand-warmers, earrings, and more, while Eli makes hand-crafted leather items. Check out Gwen's Etsy site to see more!

Last but not least, Holly Webb hand-makes her own beautiful jewelry. She also offers a lifetime replacement warranty on all her stuff! Now that's cool. Here are some of her words about her work: "Flathead Jewelry is a labor of love. Each piece is handmade, totally original, and crafted with love and attention to detail. I actually have a bond with each of my pieces! I seek out special beads -- beads with a history or beads made with great care and workmanship. I have found these in such items as Bali glass beads, Czech Beads, Japanese seed beads, and of course what I use the most of is gemstones, all of which have a special purpose and energy." Check out her site, Flathead Jewelery Creations, to see her collection or order a custom necklace!

Let us know if you have friends who create so that we can add them to our growing community of creative Gusketeers!

Viva la Vaquita!

Though you may never have heard of them, the little white Vaquitas are one of the rarest and certainly the smallest of all whale species. And guess what? They're endemic to Baja's Gulf of California (that means this is their only habitat in the world)!

They live in the northern part of the Gulf, where the waters are warm and the small fish are plenty. They have always been a rare species, with a low population and rather elusive behavior, so much so that to this day, some Baja fishermen claim they're only legend! This, however, is quite untrue. They have been around for quite a while, and in fact are now in trouble due to overfishing in the Gulf, water pollution, and reduction of water flow in the Colorado River. They also occasionally get caught in fishermens' gill nets.

The last survey in 2008 put their numbers at just 250 individuals, which is hardly enough to maintain a stable population. It looks like the Vaquitas are once again on the decline...

There are a few organizations which are working to protect the Vaquitas, one of which is Sonora's Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO), a non-profit research institute. We know these people personally and they're doing good work not just for the Vaquita, but also for the fisheries and ecosystems of the northern Gulf, from conducting coastal estuary conservation to working with cooperatives of fishermen to rotate their fishing grounds and manage the fisheries in a more holistic way. (You can visit CEDO in Puerto PeƱasco, Sonora, for a tour of their visitor center and to get more info about the local Gulf ecosystems!)

The Mexican government has also created a protected area where the highest concentration of Vaquitas is supposed to be, so that fishing is prohibited within this area.  You can also visit Viva Vaquita, a non-profit website dedicated to raising awareness about the Vaquita's situation!

Here's a sighting of the Vaquita from 2008:

An Encounter with Vaquita. from Chris Johnson on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Article Roundup!

As much as we love turning off our computers and heading out into Baja's wildernesses, you have to admit that the Internet has some pretty interesting things to say, sometimes.  Here's a small roundup of a few items that have caught my interest lately!
  • Towards Sustainable Travel: Breaking the Flying Addiction
    • I totally sympathize with the author (Elisabeth Rosenthal) of this article! I do everything I can on a daily basis to make sure my Carbon footprint corresponds to the shoe-size of a newborn baby. And here at Gus Headquarters, we're always trying to think up new and old ways to keep our travel style Carbon neutral. But flying is one of the hardest habits to kick. How do you beat that kind of convenience? 
  • Tracking the Ancestry of Corn Back 9000 Years
    • Did you know that corn came from a Mexican grass called Teosinte? Apparently the early indigenous Mexicans were doing some pretty sophisticated breeding and domestication of the grass to get corn to the state it is today. 
  • Bryant Austen's Studio Cosmos
    • Okay, so this isn't technically an article, but check out these "high-resolution, life-size photographs of endangered whale species." Holy crap awesome. Make sure you read his "Bio" page. What a cool dude!
  • Dirt Makes Us Smarter
    • The article's a little dry, but the point comes through loud and clear: playing in dirt makes you happier, healthier, and even smarter! All right!   
  • Amazing Jellies
    • "As elegant as they are squishy." A cool educational video (in hd!) about jellies.
Happy reading!

A Saturday at El Faro

Just last weekend, the Baja Trek crew packed into Gus, picked up a bunch of our most dedicated Gusketeers, and rumbled over to El Faro Orphanage in Tijuana for a volunteer run! A great time was had by all. The kids at El Faro are hungry for love and attention and gobbled up our gift bags, toys, and hearts all in one go... They are an awesome and beautiful group of kids!

If you're interested in helping out at El Faro, drop us a line and we'll tell you when our next volunteer run will be. You can also volunteer on your own time. Just let us know and we'll connect you with the right people who can tell you what supplies are needed and when to come!

In the meantime, here are a few of our best pics from last weekend's trip:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Oaxaca Project

Our friend and fellow Gusketeer Beth just told us about this awesome project down in Oaxaca that is the brainchild of her colleague Deborah Miller.

As an EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) practictioner, Deborah works with kids in a hospital cancer wing in Oaxaca to help them tap into their emotions and create a positive frame of mind. She uses teddy bears called Tappy Bears as confidants for the childrens' worries and emotions.

Here are some of her words: "I’ve felt absolute joy, delight, pleasure, peace and pure love as I interact with these children on a daily basis. We have FUN feeling better, while learning how to feel better, learning that it’s ok to feel better, while choosing to feel good and to heal. The peels of laughter that come as we tap, visualize and joke around fill the hospital room with the delight of life. That is pure healing in my eyes."

Beyond helping the individual children in her hospital wing, Deborah has reached out to the doctors and hospital community and his helping to raise awareness about the benefits of practicing EFT: "Although Dr Quero, the head oncologist, has from the very beginning been very open to the work I do with EFT, usually the doctors are a little reserved or skeptical. Even though Dr Quero was observing results in the children and parents it was months before he actually tried EFT with me. When he did try it, he found it very relaxing and refreshing. He recommends that the use of EFT be continued in the hospital and hopes that other hospitals will do the same soon."

How cool! Way to go Deborah. We believe in what you're doing!

Check out her website here for more info: