The Nature Zine, Issue 2

Completed!

I can’t believe it’s been a year since the first issue of The Nature Zine. Now I have a whole new collection for you to enjoy!

NatureZineIssue2

Issue 2 is packed full of intense stories, thoughts, poems, art, photos and an ‘interview’ from multiple contributors. I’m thrilled to share with you this next run of submissions- they are all quite inspiring. People share their fears, passion, and thoughts on exploring, connecting with and studying nature. The beautiful ruffed grouse on the cover was painted by Jay Dowd, owner and tattoo artist at Consolidated Tattoo Parlor and Barber Shop in Flint, Michigan. Jay and I have gone on a LOTS of outdoor adventures together and he spends any moment that he can out in the wilderness, so of course it was a pleasure to include his painting. I really enjoy receiving submissions from all over the states (and Canada!), so please keep them coming.

My friend Matt and I collaborated on a piece together for issue 2- never too late- as we had once discussed writing of our 6 month adventure (much of which has been described here, but we now we were able to reflect on our journey and share new aspects of it all). We essentially interview ourselves- as in we came up with a few questions and then separately wrote our responses. We waited to share them until we both completed our pieces. I then meshed them together, leaving them as they were- not letting our answers influence one another.

If you are interested in a copy, I’ll send you one for free, trade or a $1-$3 donation.  Donations just help to cover the cost of copies and shipping. Plus allow me to keep up with this very enjoyable project. I’m on a student budget so anything helps. Just use the the paypal button below or email me for other options, batsnbikes [at] gmail [dot] com

Donate for a copy of The Nature Zine

Much thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project! I’m keeping Issue One in print as well, so let me know if you are interested. Both a creative outlet and a way to share our thoughts on connecting with nature, The Nature Zine will continue on with more issues.  If you are interested in contributing, please send your stories, thoughts, and art to me or contact me for more information:  batsnbikes [at] gmail [dot] com

p.s. wondering what a zine is? This should help.

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Butterflies, Rainbows and Waterfalls

Sounds magical doesn’t it? Well, it’s not magic, nature is just that incredible.

We’ve arrived back to Michigan eager to start new projects and catch up with where we left off.  However I want to do a quick run down on how the rest of the trip went and maybe provide some useful information for others visiting Iguazu Falls in Argentina.

Briefly I will jump back to where I left off – Salto, Uruguay.  If you find yourself in Salto, it’s probably because you are attracted to the idea of lounging in hot water all day… Salto is full of termas (hot springs) and is the perfect place to rejuvenate.  We were there for the termas, but also to cross back into Argentina.  We had two options: take the bus or take a boat.  The bus was a couple of dollars cheaper and a couple of hours longer.  You have to deal with everyone else crossing the border on wheels and going through customs.  The boat took less than a half hour to get our passports stamped in both countries and cross the river.  You have to walk about 20 or more blocks to the bus station once you are in Concordia, Argentina but it was worth it.  Only 5 other people were on the boat with us- it was quick and casual.

One of many... still need to identify. Any ideas?

From Concordia we took an overnight (15+/- hours) bus ride to Puerto Iguazu.  The ride was long enough to enter into a more tropical climate full of new birds and trees.  We found a really cheap and rad place to camp.  A couple has their yard set up for camping, full of beautiful vegetation and a nice covered kitchen area.  The place is called Modista, and it’s in town, maybe a 10 minute walk from the bus terminal.  It’s cheaper than all of the other camping options.

I don’t think words exist to explain Iguazu Falls.  I took around 100+ photos, none of which do them any justice.  The earliest we could get into the park was 8am, and we arrived just a few minutes after.  Skipping the little train they have to get you around to different parts of the falls, Matt and I walked down their “green trail” and it was here where we met the Toco Toucan (Toucan Grande).

As Matt pointed out an interesting spider to me, I caught a glimpse of the Toucan so very close to us and in clear view.  He let us watch him in amazement for a few minutes.  A perfect way to start our 9 hour day at the falls.  I added a few other birds to my life list and also identified a dozen or so butterflies.  As for mammals, it’s clear that humans have made an impact on the coatis (Nasua nasua) – we watched them chase people away from their tables so they could quickly snatch their food.  We also watched a couple of Azara’s Agoutis (Dasyprocta azarae) dig around in the leaf litter.

I feel like I can’t really say much more, as it is best to observe rather than read about.   If you are a nerd and plan to go to Iguazu, I suggest getting a field guide before going, or a couple.  I bought an inexpensive one (Iguazu: Vida y Color) in town and found it to be very helpful.  It contains a decent collection of birds, butterflies, mammals, trees and more.  Names are in Spanish, English and scientific.

I’ll end this with a brief video I took with my camera at the falls.  You can see the great dusky swifts flying around, birds endemic to the falls!

Uruguay in just over a week…

Matt on the beach of Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

Exploring Uruguay in just over a week is not nearly enough time for this beautiful country.  However we have now reached the point where everyday we wonder what we will run out of first, time or money?  I often tend to live my life not thinking much of either of the two but now everyday we reasses our situation.

It was in Uruguay that it hit us hard that we must purchase our tickets home or try to find jobs to sustain ourselves here.  If we took the risk of trying to stay in South America then we may have taken the chance of not being able to afford our tickets home.  So tickets were bought and reluctantly we will make our way back to the U.S.  It´s probably about time I stop putting off my student loans and well…. look into more studies as well.

But enough of that….

In Rosario, Argentina we both decided we didn´t feel like being in another city and scoped out the bus station as soon as we arrived looking for a way out.  A night bus into Uruguay.  We thought, perfect this way we can also avoid the cost of sleeping in a hostel.  Matt scribbled down some numbers, comparing the cost of different bus options and estimating camping and hostel options.  We chose to take the bus that would take us to the first city on the Uruguay border, Fray Bentos.  From here, we would look for more affordable traveling options (hitchhiking!), which we managed to do from Fray Bentos to Colonia del Sacramento.

One would assume that the bus would take you to the city you have paid for, but instead we found ourselves at the Argentina Uruguay frontera at 430am being told that this was our stop.  I wasn´t able to convince them to take us a little closer to Fray, so we set about our way walking on the empty highway to Fray Bentos.  The guy at the border told us we had to walk 10km to get to Fray… I think it was closer to 8, but either way it felt like 20 with our packs and being half awake.  We laughed at the inconvenience of it all and enjoyed entering a sleeping town.  As the sun was rising and people were filtering into the streets we found ourselves in the center plaza, soon followed by the comfort of a bed in a cheap hotel after a long and draining bus ride and walk into Uruguay.

With not much time we had to limit what to visit here.  We left Fray and spent a couple of relaxing days in Colonia del Sacramento.  A bit of a tourist town being just a boat ride away from Buenos Aires, but as with most of our travels, we were visiting during the off season.  We did what we do best, walk around the town.

We made the long ride over to the other side of Uruguay to find ourselves on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean in Punta del Diablo.  Well worth the long ride, in Punta del Diablo we found nature, relaxtion, hiking, and the sound and smell of the ocean. It was nearly a ghost town in May- we were told that other parts of the year the city and beaches are full of surfers and others craving the sun and the ocean.  But we found only a  few people scattered here and there, wandering about enjoying the solitude.  The hostel we stayed at was very comfortable and we both thought it felt more like couchsurfing than staying at a hostel… it was even really cheap due to the off season.  I fell asleep and woke up to the sound of the ocean for three nights in a row.  It was difficult to leave.

Now we find ourselves in an empty hostel in Salto, Uruguay back at the border of Argentina.  Tomorrow we explore the termas the town is known for and set about for some hiking and camping.

Capilla del Monte, Argentina

Known for its mysterious energy, the mountain pulled us to Capilla del Monte. How could we resist when we heard that the town is full of “alternative” culture and that you could trek up the mountain? We translated this into hopes of vegan food and visions of Jodorowsky´s The Holy Mountain.

We arrived into Capilla del Monte by bus from Cordoba and were soon greeted by Shorty, a local dog of the town who showed us to the office of tourism. He waited outside as we grabbed a map and located camping areas.  Shorty  started to show us the way but was quickly distracted by Big Body, another local perro so we wandered around on dirt roads until we found a place. It was more a bit more than we wanted to pay, but offered a kitchen area, a pregnant cat, a cute puppy and a whole assortment of animals living on their eco farm. Plus the guy gave us a handful of walnuts from a tree on the farm and walked us over to a spot on their land where you could see the sun setting its glow on the mountain that had lured us there, Uritorco.

We camped there for 3 nights another tent accompanied us for a night and others stayed in the hostel rooms they offer as well, but mostly we were alone. It seemed as if every block in Capilla del Monte was home to some sort of natural food, herb or artisan store. We found granola, tofu, soy milanesa, organic mate and a handful of other items to meet our cravings.

Sunday we packed our small bags with plenty of water, snacks and a lunch for the top of Uritorco. We were told it would take 3 to 4 hours to reach the top and about 3 hours to trek back down. I managed to twist my ankle a bit a couple of days before in the city, and thought nothing like a trek up a mountain to help this situation out.

The hike, as expected gets steeper as you reach the top but overall is not very strenuous. We were happy to find that it remained rather rugged for most of the trek. Some small stretches were worn down more than others but they kept the signs minimal, arrows here and there and 7 labeled points telling you how far you had gone and how much further you had to go. We reached the top, 1,979 meters (6493ft) in 2 hours and 45 minutes. This included my hopeless attemps at trying to find birds and photograph butterflies. We also hung out just short of the top to enjoy the silence before we had to be around 10 or so other people who thought they should shout to their friends close by.

On our way up Cerro Uritorico

We reached the top and took in the view, beautiful from all angles. Three dogs also decided to spend their time a top Cerro Uritorico as well, including Mountain Mama a pregnant perro ready to birth her puppies to the mountain. Enjoying matè and soy milanesa sandwiches we took it all in for about an hour or two. It took us just under 2 hours to trek back down, I managed to only fall once but caught myself before tumbling.

The following day we cramped our legs on long bus rides making our way to Uruguay followed by an interesting entrance into the country.

Note- I left out photos of our actual hike so as to not spoil the view for someone searching about the trek.  If you want to see more they will be in the Argentina folder, see the link to My Photo Albums on the right.

To the Center of Argentina

Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina to San Juan to Valle Fértil to Córdoba.  We´ve journeyed to the center of Argentina and quickly want to make our escape.  We tire of large cities quickly and long for the dusty roads that seem to be taking you nowhere, but that´s exactly where we want to go.  It is somewhere.  These small towns are relaxed, less globalized and we can wander around aimlessly.  The locals are quick to offer directions or advice on things to see.

We camped for 5 nights, it cools down to the lower 40sF when the sun sets, and we fell asleep to the chorus of dogs and dirt bikes.  If we weren´t camping alone, we would find only one or two scattered tents in the camping area.  Camping is about half the price or cheaper than staying in a hostel.  We could probably get away with camping for free seeing as how some of the grounds are closed for the winter, but then we also risk our things not being there when we return for the night.  So instead we support the local people who supply us we with a comfortable place to sleep.

Camping Don Bosco in San Juan is the local hangout for the weekend and it involves handfuls of parties with big cookouts, bands playing and futbol too of course.  Everyone gathers in the parque-camping area and parties all day until late in the night.  I´m pretty sure we were the only people there who weren´t locals, which is the way I like things to be.

We travelled on to Valle Fértil in an attempt to visit a national parquethat is supposed to be full of rock-sand formations.  It´s difficult to get to unless you arrange a ride to get there, and then have to pay a fee to take a guided tour through the park.  It was more money than we wanted to spend so instead we wandered about some dirt roads in search of birds and other nature and found a good amount of the two.  The main road crossed the river, we opted for a shoeless entry only to find that halfway through the crossing a 50+ year-old man hopped the wet rocks across to get his donkey and arrived on the other end of the river with dry shoes.  We laughed and he smiled at us, giving us a nod.

The quiet town of Valle Fértil, Argentina.

I´ve come across some bird books that cost double what they would cost in the U.S.  so for now I have a rough list of bird names in Spanish that hopefully I´ll have time to look into soon.

We depart the city, after two nights in a comfortable hostel, this afternoon and aim for some gems around the area and then continue to head east until we reach Uruguay.  Beds are comfortable but I prefer the outdoors even if it involves having to face the cold in the middle of the night because my bladder refuses to let me make it through until the sun returns in the morning.

More photos can always be found here, or see the link on the right, Our Stuff: My Photo Albums.