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Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Christmas Tale Retold After 10 Years of Belize



It is Christmas Eve and I lay in my tent camped on the edge of a whitewater river in the jungle of Belize with my clients. It is now ten years on since I first came to work  here in Belize, and I find it just as alluring  now as I did then ( though perhaps a dab more normal than I thought of it back then). Sleeping in the jungle with the sounds of the multitude of life around me, the stars twinkling above me and the roar of the rapids on the river next to me; I am brought back to a group email ( no blog back then) I first wrote of this experience back in 2005. My words then echo now in my mind as I sit being present to what's around me. I have included my old email below along with some photos I have taken over the years in Belize to accompany .
I hope you all have a great New Years and... Keep exploring.





Written in 2005

Dark, wet and moody Jungle, where the rain falls so hard and for so long the ground pools even when it’s flat. The air itself becomes wet and the jungle rings with the noise of drumming everywhere. It stops suddenly, just as it started, though what is left now are the heavy drips that build from the upper canopy, drumming all the way down till large droplets strike the sodden earth. Now the sound of the river returns, a constant buzz from the nearby rapids, the frogs start calling and singing, the jungle is now alive with a new kind of music, and overture of tones and harmony that clutter, yet give symphony. A toucan flies across the gap made by the river winding through the jungle.

We are camped out on the side of the Moho River, in southern Belize's Toledo district. This trip is a four day journey through the jungle via the Moho, which runs a path


(c)Worldwildadventures-0030That leads to 5meter pool drops and an assortment of shoots, just to add excitement to the otherwise tranquil setting. We travel on inflatable two person rafts or kayaks, sometimes known as duckie's, they are stable and durable, and thus we can let our clients captain them without a guide, after a little lesson of course. All around us is life, howler monkeys in Ceiber trees, four eyed grey opossums who come to see who is in their territory at night, multitudes of birds, from eagles to Grackles (a type of black bird), to Oropendulas with their TUI like calls (for those in NZ), to the tiger Heron, who has a call a little like the gentle rumbling snarl of a tiger.

Boy I am humbled by the beauty and magnificence of this world. The two Mayan guides I work with, Pedro and Camellio, live in such a simple way and are so in tune with and knowledgeable of, the jungle we travel in, that I feel like an alien on an in hospitable planet, though boy I am super happy to be here.


Pedro is teaching me how to catch Green Iguana from the kayak. The iguanas hang out on trees along the (c)Worldwildadventures-2014river and when you surprise them on low branch they leap into the water. The trick is to paddle up slowly with your PFD of and as the jump you jump in after them, grabbing them by the tail until they stop spinning then they just relax until you let them go, quite amazing. I have not yet caught one, they are dam fast.

I found an amazing snake (in fact I found a number of them over the week), called the blunt headed tree snake, delicately long and super thin, it is a striking creamy white with large terracotta orange bands on it, its cat like eyes give away that it is poisonous, though it is extremely docile and even if it did bit it mouth is small and its fangs at the rear of the mouth (the specialises in eating frogs and their eggs, as well as insects). This particular Snake curled around one of my fingers and made itself at home staying there for 20 min's until I encouraged it to move to a tree.



(c)Worldwildadventures-0129-2Previously the trip starts on the ocean out on the Caye's (the name for the islands here) on the barrier reef of Belize (the second largest in the world). Here the sand is white and he water is warm and clear, the snorkelling great, eagle rays, morays, sea turtles and sharks, not to mention the multitudes of fish species found amongst the coral. Out here on the Caye's( pronounced Keys), brown pelicans dive for fish along with yellow and blue footed booby's, who in turn get harassed by frigate birds for their food. The frigate cannot dive for its own fish, due to the huge wings and little body, though it must resort to piracy.

On some of the Caye's live spinney tailed iguanas, a lot more ferocious than the green, however I did catch one (see attached photos). Out here we kayak from key to key or patch reef to patch reef, snorkelling and eating and drinking, catching seafood when we can. The kayaks are also set up with a sail so we can sail when the trade winds are blowing. Out on the Caye's I think of myself as more of a snorkelling guide, as that's what we do mostly, so it is very cool to spend so much time in the water and getting to know the foreign fish here.

(c)Worldwildadventures-0141   (c)Worldwildadventures-7321

However this place is amazing and has so much potential, the people are very friendly, though can be quite in your face sometimes. The Mayans further south, are simple and quite, living of their farms as they have done for centuries. It is interesting to live in a country with so much ethnic diversity, Creole, Garifuna, Mayan, and Mennonites, all different languages, and culture, though one nationality.

Any hew; I am great, merry Christmas and happy new years to you all.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

Our New Zealand Adventure Published



Adventure Kayak Magazine has published a story and photos from our Yak About Adventure Project at the start of the year. Article was written by Laura and the photos where provided by Freya, Cynthia and Myself. Freya even scored the Cover Shot, though it is not a photo from NZ. I am also proud to say that my photos have featured in every issue of Adventure Kayak this year, I am pretty stoked.





Also Published was a photo I took from my Kayak trip down the east coast of the north island of NZ with Dave Briggs.



can read the rest of the mag online here


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Urban Oasis and the Outdoor Project.


First day in the States and we ended up on a new adventure. Pulling up at Montlake park in Seattle Tara and I meet Tyson and Tyler who are part of the Out Project, and online adventure guide website. OP and TRAK had paired to promote Sea Kayaking on the site and the benefit of using TRAK kayaks for Urban adventures or more wild ones.

Today was about me making sure they were comfortable with the boats, and also to discuss how I could help them create the content they needed for the website, and along the way that meant we ended up on an Urban Kayak adventure at the same time. All four of us put on the water and paddled around the corner to a crazy little place called the arboretum, a place where idyllic Lillie pads and ducks swam about on the glassy serene waters, while busy freeways ran over top, held above the water by concrete stilts.

The place was a contradiction to the senses and extremely surreal, you eyes computed to your brain, tranquil japans garden style lake, yet your ears at some places where screaming you’re in the middle of a freeway junction, and over all you felt like you where in a part of a city that was being taken back by the wild. Tara could not handle the conflict and paddle back to the park, while the boys and I explored a bit more. I was totally fascinated by the whole situation, so bizarre yet so great for those who cannot escape the city easily to find wild beauty. It almost seemed an “ideal” situation to me... Tara scoffed at this suggestion though what I mean is “ if you are going to have a city, this is a great way to incorporate nature in to it, if we could do this to 90% of each city... we would be a huge leap further ahead towards living in tune with nature”.


It also became apparent there were some reasonably challenging waters to deal with in the urban waterways of seattle.. as we paddled through a canal between lakes, the boats where big and did not slow for kayaks, rapidly the water went from calm, to boat wake swell and rapidly shifted again to a confused sea state as waves refracted of the walls and merged with the swell making some solid calapotiss waves, your average beginner paddler could struggle with these conditions for sure.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Downwind Squamish Surf Ski Dash and immigration Comedians



Last night Tara and I crossed into the USA, thought not before we had an “EPIC” Surf Ski adventure.

I had just spent a day helping install the new amazing custom” ‘Yak Wagon” roof rack that now enables 16 x 7 feet of storage space on the roof of the bus, and after an evening paddle in Deep Cove North Vancouver, the day ended with a pleasant long sleep in the ‘Yak Wagon.

The next day, as I popped out of the bus to go find the amenities, I bumped into Bob Putnam, the owner of Deep Cove Outdoors and Canoe and Kayak Centre, and after a catch up, Tara and I were soon invited for a Downwind Surf ski Paddle....... We were supposed to cross the border today..... let me “Think” about a surf ski outing.... well traffic would probably be quite high between 3 – 8pm, so if we go paddle we could cross at 9pm lower traffic amount.... “OK Done! We are in!” I exclaimed. “now let me go tell Tara!”


The fun part here is that Tara had never been in a surf Ski before, both of us had not done down wind surf ski runs before, though we both had super strong cross over skills, so we were exited by the novelty of the idea. Earlier in the week, Tara had paddled a K1 racing kayak around the lake without falling in, so combined with her solid rough water expedition and white water paddling skills, she would be all good.


(c)Worldwildadventures-1086After visiting Deep cove to discuss TRAK kayaks, I confirmed with Bob we would come, and we loaded a ski on the Wagon and off we went to Porteu Cove, here we meet the rest of the crew we were paddling with, and they all had slight nervous doubt when Tara and I told them we had not paddled surf ski’s in conditions like this, and in Fact Tara and not used either a surf ski or a wing paddle before. Bob knowing the backgrounds of both Tara and I, had a kind off sly twinkle in his eye it seemed. Tara was a little nervous about it all, though I knew she would be fine and joked with her about it.



Soon we were on the water and it was so much fun, the speed, the surfing of waves, and water in the face, along with the challenge of a different vessel in advanced conditions, all added up to 2 hours of great fun. The biggest thing I learnt this day was to read the waves 2 -3 sets in front of you, in order to predict where to steer the ski in order to keep catching and staying on surf able waves. And by god it worked, a revelation for my skill set right there, awesome.


Charging up Howe sound hooting hollering, and ripping along in 3 foot wind waves with 35 knot winds at our backs we all to soon found ourselves in Squamish estuary, ducking and diving amongst the kite and wind surfers, to get into the harbour. Soaked head to toe with big smiles and aching muscles, we helped load up the ski’s and then it was off to have beer and pizza at the local brew pub. What a fun day and yet another paddle discipline I want to indulge in.


All to soon we were back on the road and heading for the border, and at 9.20 pm we walked in to immigration after reporting at the booth, and we were greeted, not with the expected surely USA immigration officers, but by some rather human, endearing and humorous individuals. It all seemed your usual routine, until our case officer left to get our passports from the booth officer, and while he was gone another officer made a comment that we were left standing at the altar by the priest. And soon it was all on, wise cracks flying left and right. The next target was my bus... “what are you .... errr driving .... some sort of .....err caravan?” asked the officer with some sort of bewilderment as he looked at the bus through security camera monitor showing it parked outside. “or is it a..... Bus?”

On telling him it was an ex well chair transporter, he smiled and stated cautiously “ I was going to say it was some sort of..... um.....some sort of.....” “oh man don’t say it” jibed the other security officer with a look of mischief”

Our case officer said “ I was going to say it looked like some sort of “Handicapped Enabled” vehicle!”

“OH MAN YOU SAID IT” laughed the other officer, “Ha ha ha ha ha is not that bad man, look it is a tour bus it even has marketing decals on it, it looks great really!” we all laughed at the truth of both realitys of what the ‘Yak wagon was and had become”. Tara had been processed and just as I was about to be processed, the whole system crashed... and soon came a whole bunch of new jokes followed by “ don’t joke about this stuff, we are supposed to be putting across an air of high tech surveillance, we are meant to have all this fancy CSI stuff our systems don’t crash” followed by some more chuckles. Eventually the process worked while being harried along by more friendly banter, and while I went out to get money from the bus to pay for the visa waiver stamps, Tara informed me they even attempted to impersonate me and my accent...

Who would have thought we would have had a laugh at the border crossing with immigration officials, I guess there is a first for everything. Soon we were in the USA , with a fully kitted out ‘Yak Wagon, a lots f different Kayaks, and the realisation suddenly hit me.... the Yak About Adventure with TRAK Kayaks and the TRAK on Tour had really begun, this will be a lot of work, though will also be a lot of fun.

TRAK on TOUR in America Clear Background Copy